What causes constipation in toddlers?
97% of children suffer from functional constipation. The causes are the same as adults – too little water and fiber in the diet and lack of physical activity. Note that it is more likely to occur when dietary fiber intake is restricted.
Did You Know?
Functional constipation means that the bowel is healthy but not working properly. It is often the result of poor dietary habits and lifestyle which occurs in both children and adults (more common in women).
Signs and Symptoms
Every child has different ways of letting you know when they are constipated. However, the symptoms are similar to those an adult would show:
- passing very hard or dry stools
- pain when defecating
- stomach aches
- changes in frequency (decreases compared to normal pattern)
What to do?
Be familiar with your child’s individual pattern and note changes in it. Worry not about the frequency of pooping. As long as your child’s stools are large and soft, and the child is comfortable before and after passing, frequency is less important. Here are a few ADD UPs that you can try at home to ease your child’s discomfort:
Choose cereals, breads and crackers with more than 5g of fiber per serving.
|Fruits and vegetables||:||
Encourage your child to eat high-fibre fruits and vegetables such as dried dates, raisins & prunes, guava, jackfruit, mangosteen, and any fruit/vegetable eaten with its peel such as pears, plums, and apples, broccoli, green beans, corn, peas and cabbage
Water is best. Natural food laxatives like diluted prune or apple juice are fine
Encourage your child to actively move and play e.g crawling, walking, running
Remember, changes in diet, fluid intake and activity level should be your first line of defense.
- The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse
- Vera Loening-Baucke, MD (2005). Prevalence, symptoms and outcome of constipation in infants and toddlers. The Journal of Pediatrics.146(3):359-363. (ABSTRACT)
- Araujo Sant’Anna AM, Calcado AC. Constipation in school-aged children at public schools in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr 1999; 29: 190-193. (PubMed)
- Anthony G Catto-Smith (2005). Constipation and toileting issues in children. Med J Aust. 182 (5): 242-246