By Dr. Anukriti Singh|4 - 5 mins read| May 03, 2024

What is constipation?

Constipation means passing stools less frequently than normal. It is a very common problem in children around the world. It can be prevented and treated with lifestyle changes such as regular exercises and drinking more water.

Constipation includes-

  • Passing stools less than two times a week
  • Difficulty in passing stools as they are hard or dry
  • Feeling of fullness or that poop is stuck

What are the signs and symptoms of constipation in children?

Children who develop constipation usually complain of stomach ache and fullness of the tummy. They may also lose their appetite. The common signs and symptoms observed in a child with constipation are:

  • The child goes to bathroom less than usual
  • The child complains that they have pain when passing poop or trouble when going to the bathroom
  • The child is feeling full or bloated
  • The child has to strain to poop
  • The child can pass a little blood with stool
  • The child may at times have underwear stained with bits of poop

What causes constipation in children?

There are a wide range of reasons due to which a child may develop constipation. The reasons may range from a simple lack of good diet to a sign of underlying disease. Some common causes are:

  • A child can have Constipation due to a poor diet. Children who do not have enough water and fibre in their diet are more prone to developing constipation.
  • Children who do not eat fresh foods but rather have more processed foods, cheeses, white breads, and meats may become constipated more commonly.
  • Some medicines can also be responsible for the development of constipation. These medicines include antidepressants, pain medicines, and iron tablets.
  •  Constipation is fairly common and completely normal when the diet of a child changes. When a baby changes from breast milk to baby formula, or from baby food to solid food, they may develop constipation. 
  • Toddlers who are toilet training can become constipated, especially if they’re not ready.
  • Stress also is responsible for development of constipation. Children can get constipated more often when they’re anxious about something. 
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is also a reason for development of constipation in children. When a child with irritable bowel syndrome is stressed or eats certain trigger foods, stomach upset develops. 
  • Constipation can also be a sign of other medical illnesses. You should consult  your doctor if the constipation lasts for a long duration of 2 to 3 weeks.

What can I do to prevent and manage constipation in my child?

Management and prevention of constipation in children can be achieved by making small and easy lifestyle changes. Here are some tips for an appropriate lifestyle:

  • Make sure that your child has more liquids. Drinking enough water and other liquids helps in the movement of poop through the intestines. The age and weight of children determine the amount of liquid needed per day. As a general rule of thumb 3-4 glasses of water is enough for toddlers and school going children. If your infant is constipated when solid foods are being introduced you can add a little amount of juice each day in the diet.
  • Make sure your kids eat more fibre in the diet. High-fibre foods which include fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain bread are very helpful in preventing constipation. Fibre is not digested in the body but it helps to move the bowels along. Enough water should also be taken with fibre. Foods high in fibre include apples, pears, beans, oatmeal, oranges, ripe bananas, whole-grains breads and popcorn to name a few.
  • You should encourage your child to be active and to get enough exercise. Physical activity helps the bowels become more active. Simple activities such as walking, playing catch, riding bikes can be a good stimulant.
  • Your child should have a regular meal schedule. Having regular meals may also help kids develop routine bowel habits.
  • Constipation is not a dangerous condition and can be resolved with the above mentioned measures. But if it persists for a long duration or you notice other symptoms in your child as well, it would be a good idea to visit a healthcare professional for ruling out underlying causes.

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About The Author:

Dr. Anukriti Singh

Last Updated: Fri May 03 2024

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