How to Care for Your Child with Constipation

This leaflet will provide you with information about Constipation causes, symptoms, treatment and home care advice.

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What is Constipation?

Constipation occurs when a child has a hard poop and/or does not regularly go to the toilet. Constipation is a common problem in children

  • Most children with constipation do not have an identifiable underlying medical problem causing their symptoms.
  • Infants who are breastfed have more bowel movements than those who are formula-fed.

What are the symptoms of Constipation?

Your child may:

  • Have fewer bowel movements than usual (two or fewer per week)
  • Have hard or bigger than average poop
  • Feel pain when having a bowel movement
  • Arch his or her back and cry (if still a baby)
  • Avoid going to the bathroom.
  • Have a small amount of blood when they poop due to straining and pushing to get the poop out.
  • Leak small amounts of bowel movement into the underwear

How is Constipation treated?

Constipation generally resolves with:

  • Simple changes in diet or behaviour.
  • Drinking enough fluids
  • Regular toilet time
  • Sometimes medicines may be required.

Home care advice:

1. Encourage your child to:

  • Eat more fruit, vegetables, cereal, and other foods with fibre
  • Drink some prune juice, apple juice, or pear juice
  • Drink plenty of water (about 950 mls per day for children over two years old)
  • Avoid milk, yoghurt, cheese, and ice cream during the constipation period

Sit on the toilet for 5 or 10 minutes after meals if he or she is toilet trained. Offer rewards just for sitting there.

2. Stop potty training for a while, if you are working on it

When should I seek medical advice?

Seek medical advice if:

  • Your child is younger than four months old
  • Your child has recurrent constipation
  • You have been trying the steps listed above for more than 24 hours, but your child has still not had a bowel movement
  • Your child Has a lot of blood when pooping or on the diaper or underwear
  • Your child is in severe pain