Constipation

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Care at Home

  • NORMAL STOOLS: * Once children are on a regular diet, their stool pattern is like adults. The normal range is 3 per day to 1 every 2 days. * Kids who go every 3 days often drift into longer times. Then symptoms start. * Kids who go every 4 and 5 days almost always have pain with passage. They also have lots of straining.
  • DIET FOR INFANTS UNDER 1 YEAR OLD: * For infants over 1 month old only on breast milk or formula, add fruit juice. Give 1 ounce (30 ml) per month of age per day. Pear or apple juice are okay at any age. (Reason: Treating a symptom.) * For infants over 4 months old, also add baby foods with high fiber. Do this twice a day. Examples are peas, beans, apricots, prunes, peaches, pears, or plums. * If on finger foods, add cereals and small pieces of fresh fruit.
  • DIET FOR CHILDREN OVER 1 YEAR OLD: * Increase fruit juice (apple, pear, cherry, grape, prune). Note: Citrus fruit juices are not helpful. * Add fruits and vegetables high in fiber content. Examples are peas, beans, broccoli, bananas, apricots, peaches, pears, figs, prunes, or dates. Offer these foods 3 or more times per day. * Increase whole grain foods. Examples are bran flakes or muffins, graham crackers, and oatmeal. Brown rice and whole wheat bread are also helpful.  Popcorn can be used if over 4 years old. * Limit milk products (milk, ice cream, cheese, yogurt) to 3 servings per day.
  • STOP TOILET TRAINING:   * Put your child back in diapers or pull-ups for a short time. * Tell him that the poops won't hurt when they come out. * Praise him for passing poops into a diaper.   * Holding back stools is harmful. Use rewards to help your child give up this bad habit. * Avoid any pressure or punishment. Also, never force your child to sit on the potty against his will. Reason: It will cause a power struggle. * Treats and hugs always work better.
  • SITTING ON THE TOILET (IF TOILET TRAINED): * Set up a normal stool routine. * Have your child sit on the toilet for 10 minutes after meals. * This is especially important after breakfast.
  • WARM WATER FOR RECTAL PAIN: * Warmth helps many children relax the anus and release a stool. * For straining too long, have your child sit in warm water. * You can also put a warm wet cotton ball on the anus. Move it side to side to help relax the anus.
  • CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF: * Constipation lasts more than 1 week after making changes to diet * Your child becomes worse 
  • FLEXED POSITION: * Help your baby by holding the knees against the chest. This is like squatting for your baby. This is the natural position for pushing out a stool. It's hard to have a stool lying down. * Gently pumping the lower stomach may also help.
  • WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: * Constipation is common in children. * Most often, it's from a change in diet. It can also be caused by waiting too long to stool. * Passing a stool should be pleasant and free of pain. * Any child with pain during stool passage or lots of straining needs treatment. At the very least, they need changes in diet.
  • WHAT TO EXPECT: * Most often, changes in diet helps constipation. * After your child is better, be sure to keep him on high fiber foods. * Also, have your child sit on the toilet at the same time each day. * These tips will help to prevent the symptoms from coming back.

Disclaimer

The information contained in these topics is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.

Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider before starting any new treatment or discontinuing an existing treatment. Talk with your healthcare provider about any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Nothing contained in these topics is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment.

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