How to help a child with constipation

Child with constipation

How to help a child with constipation

Child with constipation

If your child has had constipation at some point, you are certainly not alone. 

Constipation will affect up to a third of children at some point in time. But that doesn’t make it normal. Just common. It is a sign that something isn’t right with your child, and something you should get to the bottom of (excuse the pun!).

How often should a child poop

Babies will do between 5 and 40 poos per week (remember the good old days of changing poopy nappies in the middle of the night!).

As kids get older, the bowel motions get fewer.  The actual definition of constipation in kids is less than two poos per week.  As an adult, can you imagine if you only passed a bowel motion twice a week? 

How would you feel?  Pretty grumpy, sluggish and probably in pain.

As a Naturopath, we aim for at least one bowel motion per day for optimal health.

Signs of constipation in kids

Not being able to do a poo at least every second day is a sign of some sort of issue. 

For a child with constipation it isn’t just about the frequency.  It also about the size and form of the stool.  

Extremely large poos that threaten to block the toilet indicate constipation.

Poo accidents in a toilet trained child can be overflow.  This is just the liquid which can escape around the sides of a large stool mass which is stuck in the bowel.   This is called impaction. Other signs of impaction are tummy pain, bloated belly, behavioural issues and lack of appetite or fussy eating.

Once a child has experienced the pain of passing a really large stool, they may develop some withholding behaviours.  This is where they try to avoid doing a poo, in case it hurts again

Signs that your child might be withholding (keeping their poo captive)

  • Going stiff
  • Clenching buttocks
  • Tip toe walking leaning against furniture
  • Curling up in a ball.

Quick relief for a child with constipation

If your child has constipation, the quickest relief can actually come from making one small (free) change. 

Stop dairy. 

That means no cheese, yoghurt, milk. 

In a study of 70 children with constipation, 80% had their constipation resolve completely by removing dairy. 

No medication. No supplements.  No tests.

These children did not have IgE allergies to dairy (the type you do skin prick testing with an allergist)

Flower remedies

These energetic medicines are wonderful for kids because they have no flavour. You just put some drops in their water bottle. Because there is such a big connection between emotional issues and withholding in children, flower remedies can give immediate relief.

Lactulose

This is available very cheaply in the chemist. Whilst it is sold as a laxative, it is actually a prebiotic, so its really good to rebalance your child’s gut flora.  Start with a small dose and increase gradually. It also tastes great.

Constipation in children home remedies

  • Setting toilet time (just a couple of minutes) at the same time every day (after breakfast is good) to help retrain the bowel.
  • A foot stool at the toilet to help get them into the correct position.
  • More fibre from nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables.
  • Kiwi fruit and blackberries are particular good for keeping bowels regular.
  • More water, drank between meals, not with meals
  • Exercise – walking, skipping, running are all good to stimulate bowel movements
  • Vagus nerve stimulation – there are some fun things you can do with kids to stimulate their vagus nerve and improve their digestions.  Singing or humming before meals are two ways
  • Probiotic foods – sauerkraut, kvass.  Avoid dairy probiotic foods like yoghurt and kefir until you determine if dairy is an issue.

If you struggle to get nuts, seed and veggies in to your child, here are a few child friendly suggestsions

Four ingredient chia pudding

Chocolate milkshake

Nutella bread

Need more help for your child with constipation?

Don’t try to go it alone.  Let me support you on this journey to restore your child’s health. Have a chat with me and see if I am the right person to do this.

You might also enjoy