By Dr. Ritu Krishnatreye, BHMS
Toddler constipation remedies
Constipation in toddlers can wreak havoc in a mother’s life.
Studies have found that the most common reason for a parents to rush their child to the pediatrician is because of constipation problems.
Many times this trip to the doctor is unwarranted. Missing a bowel movement for a day or two does not necessarily mean that your child is constipated. What does indicate constipation in a toddler is when the child passes hard, dry stools.
The following mom-approved remedies will help you deal with your kid’s constipation. Lets start with the toddler constipation remedies that should be tried first, then move on to laxatives.
The above two reasons are why fiber is one of the best toddler constipation remedies.
Here are some foods that are rich in fiber.
If you are having trouble getting fiber into your toddler’s diet, ask your pediatrician about giving your child a fiber supplement.
Giving your toddler too many fiberless foods means there will be less room for some of the foods listed above.
Unless your toddler gets raw, unpastuerized milk, it may be best to limit the intake of dairy to minimum three servings per day.
However, yogurt and kefir contain probiotic strains that are gut healthy and aid with digestion, acting as wonderful toddler constipation remedies.
There is no doubt that most kids love sweets. But it is best to keep a check on the sweets given to a toddler.
Sweets consist of refined sugar and refined flour. Sugars feed the yeasts and other bad bacteria in the gut, which then displace the good bacteria needed for proper digestion. Refined flour contains no fiber. Sugars and refined flour are a recipe for constipation.
To add insult to injury, sweets contain very few nutrients needed to help your little one grow up strong and healthy.
Busy toddlers may not stop often enough to drink, leading to lack of water in the digestive system, dehydration and constipation. Give water or other fluids to your child at regular intervals. Water acts as one of the greatest remedies available.
Use fun tactics, like giving the toddler a drink in a decorated glass. Offer a variety of fruit juices to get them to drink more fluids. Keeping a toddler well hydrated goes a long way to prevent or relieve constipation.
It has been proven that a sedate lifestyle can cause constipation. A toddler’s little body needs the opportunity to exercise. TV and play pens can limit needed exercise.
So look for ways to help your toddler get the exercise his or her body needs. This will keep the digestive system healthy and active, as well as help in building coordination and strong muscles.
Many children avoid going to the bathroom because of anxiety or fear.
If your toddler is reluctant to sit on the potty, try to learn the reason and then try to overcome it.
Once your child is ready for potty training, take note of the times of day that your child normally has a bowel movement, then have your child sit on the potty around those times.
This will help your child to develop regular bowel movement habits.
Many times, a toddler’s constipation is severe enough that something should be done to bring immediate relief while you work on putting in place diet and lifestyle changes.
Here is a list of laxative remedies that can provide short-term relief.
Stimulant laxatives are quite effective.
They work by increasing peristalsis, the wave-like contractions of the colon that moves stool along. Some of the popular brands of stimulant laxatives are Little Tummy’s, Senokot, Bisco-Lax and Ex-lax.
Long term use of stimulant laxatives cause the body to become dependent on them for peristalsis. They can also cause severe cramping. For these reasons they should only be used for occasional relief.
These laxatives have an osmotic effect on the colon – they pull extra water into the colon. This results in softer, moister stools that are easier to pass.
Some of the examples of osmotic laxatives for kids include Fleet Pedia-Lax, Enulose, Generlac and Magnesium Citrate. Because of their large dose of salts, these should only be used occasionally.
A magnesium supplement is another way to get this osmotic effect, but on a longer term basis.
Besides helping to keep stools moist and easy to pass, magnesium is a needed nutrient for building strong teeth and strong bones.
Taking a daily mineral supplement like Ionic Sea Minerals at 1 drop per 4 pounds of body weight not only provides magnesium to keep the bowels functioning properly, but also contains valuable trace minerals.
As the name indicates, stool softeners work by making stool soft and slippery. Hard, dry stools are different to pass and require straining and effort.
When a child has experienced difficult to pass stools they may try to delay going, which only causes the problem to become worse. Examples include Laevolac or Lactulose, and Lax-sachets.
These laxatives work by lubricating both the stool and colon walls. The lubrication makes it easier for stool to pass through the gastro-intestinal tract.
Enemas and suppositories are used only in cases of rectal fecal impaction.
Use with great care, and only with the guidance of your pediatrician. Fleet Enema and Microenema are the common enema products.
Dealing with your child’s constipation can be troublesome.
The best approach is lifestyle and dietary changes. However, for immediate short term relief a laxative may be needed. Make sure you consult your child’s pediatrician prior to giving any laxative.