Toddler Constipation Remedies


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.


Changes in Diet Are Usually the Best Remedy

Fiber is important

  • Fiber helps to increase the bulk of stool. It is this bulk that stimulates the colon to contract and move the stool along.

  • Fiber helps to store moisture in the stool, which helps to keep it moist and soft.


Foods that increase fiber in your toddler’s diet

The above two reasons are why fiber is one of the best toddler constipation remedies.

Here are some foods that are rich in fiber.

  • Apples with their peels, and most other fruits

  • Dried fruits may be a great choice for toddlers, including prunes, plums, raisins and apricots

  • Broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and most other vegetables

  • Whole wheat bread and any other whole grain product

  • Whole wheat crackers, whole grain cereals

  • Yummy nuts and seeds

  • Lentils, peas and most beans

If you are having trouble getting fiber into your toddler’s diet, ask your pediatrician about giving your child a fiber supplement. 


Limiting foods that contain little or no fiber

Giving your toddler too many fiberless foods means there will be less room for some of the foods listed above.

  • Limit the amount of processed foods that your toddler eats, since these usually have little or no fiber. This includes chips, cakes and muffins, cookies and candy.

  • If your toddler is eating baby food, check the label to make sure it contains some fiber.

  • Pasteurized dairy products, including milk, ice cream and cheese, not only have no fiber but may also be difficult to digest.

    The reason that diary is difficult to digest is that the enzymes contained in milk to help break it down are killed during the pasteurization process.

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. 


Limit the intake of sweets

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.


Keeping toddlers hydrated

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. 


Encourage physical activity

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. 


Overcoming psychological hang-ups

Many children avoid going to the bathroom because of anxiety or fear

  • Perhaps previous bowel movements were painful.

  • Maybe it was the tension they felt as they were required to sit on the potty until they went.

  • Perhaps it is because they feel some anxiety about using an unfamiliar restroom. 

  • If your child is playing, he may not want to stop for a potty break.

If your toddler is reluctant to sit on the potty, try to learn the reason and then try to overcome it.


Working with your child’s biological clock

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.


Short-term Remedies for Immediate Relief 

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

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.


Osmotic laxatives

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


Stool softeners

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. 


Lubricant Laxatives

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

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. 


Conclusion, toddler constipation remedies

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. 


(Return from Toddler Constipation Remedies to Chronic Constipation in Toddler)


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