Child constipation is a common digestive health issue. It becomes a major concern when it obstructs bowel movements, so much so that there is limited/no movement for three or more times in a week.
What is constipation?
Constipation is passing of hard stool with pain and discomfort. It is also a condition wherein there are fewer than 3 bowel movements in a week.
Constipation in kids can also be defined as having hard, rough and dry bowel movements. Constipation causes in children can be attributed to poor diet, inadequate water consumption and low amounts of dietary fibre in the diet of a child.
What is a healthy bowel movement for a child?
A healthy and regular bowel movement in kids should be 1 or 2 times a day. In a few cases, the child may take 2-3 days before passing a normal stool. In short, it depends from one child to another and also on various factors such as diet, age, etc.
Symptoms of irregular bowel movements
- Hard, dry and difficult stools
- Painful stools
- Abdominal pain, cramps and nausea
- Poor appetite
- Cranky behaviour
- Rectal bleeding
How can I find out if my child has constipation? (Constipation symptoms in children)
As a parent, ill-health sure is a concern but if you look closer, you’ll be able to observe some or all of the following constipation symptoms in your child early-on:
- Clay-like stool consistency
- Hard pellets of stool
- A hard belly
- Streaks of blood in stool
- An increased strain and pain while passing the stool
When should I call my doctor?
- When your child has a bloody or black stool
- When the child is constipated on a daily basis
- If your child has a temperature of more than 100° Fahrenheit or 37.5° Celsius
- If there is immense dehydration and sudden weight loss
What type of child constipation treatment at home can a parent resort to?
For child constipation treatment at home, you can do the following things:
Increase fluid intake of the child and make sure they consume 3 to 4 glasses or 1-2 litres of water on an average every day.
Add a lot more fibre to the kid’s diet. Include seasonal fruits, grains and vegetables. Fibre makes the bowel movement easier.
Avoid unhealthy or junk food.
Increase physical activity and exercise, appropriate for a child based on the severity of the condition.
Tips to maintain a healthy bowel movement in your child at all times
There are several methods to treat child constipation, thereby improving healthy bowel movement:
- Probiotic supplements can help to restore the balance of beneficial microorganisms in your child’s gut.
- Increase the consumption of solid high-fibre foods like broccoli, pears, prunes, peaches and peeled apples.
- Also offer grains, oats, quinoa, whole grain breads, crackers and bran cereals which add a lot of bulk to stools that could help to pass the motion easily.
- Increase fluid intake as proper hydration is key for regular bowel movements. Water and milk are great options for keeping the child hydrated. Occasional freshly squeezed juice from prunes or peaches can help speed up a child’s colon contractions which can ultimately help bring bowel movements to return faster.
- Exercise is also an important tool to speed up digestion in a kid which helps in moving food through the body more quickly.
- Massage therapy has also proved to be useful. Gentle massages on the stomach and lower abdominal area can stimulate the bowel.
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