Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Children's Health

Font Size

Constipation,Age 11 and Younger - Home Treatment

Constipation can usually be treated effectively at home.

  • Make sure your child is drinking adequate amounts of fluids.
  • If you are switching from breast milk to formula, give your baby no more than 1 fl oz (30 mL) to 2 fl oz (60 mL) of water and no more than 2 times each day for the first 2 to 3 weeks. Be sure to give your baby the suggested amount of formula for feedings plus the extra water between feedings. Do not give extra water for longer than 3 weeks unless your doctor tells you to.
  • If your child is older than 6 months, add fruit juices, such as apple, pear, or prune juice, to relieve the constipation.
    • After age 6 months, give 0.5 Tbsp (7 mL) to 2 Tbsp (30 mL) of prune juice. Increase the amount slowly over time.
    • At age 9 months, add 1.5 Tbsp (22 mL) to 3 Tbsp (45 mL) of strained prunes per day.
  • If fruit juices do not help, add baby foods with a high fiber content twice a day. High-fiber baby foods include cooked dried beans or peas (legumes), apricots, prunes, peaches, pears, plums, and spinach.
  • For children age 12 months and older, add high-fiber foods. A diet with enough fiber (20 to 35 grams each day) helps the body form soft, bulky stool.
    • Give your child at least 1 cup of fruit a day. Choose whole fruit instead of fruit juice.
    • Give your child at least 1 cup of vegetables a day.
    • Increase the amount of high-fiber foods, such as bran flakes, bran muffins, oatmeal, brown rice, beans, and unbuttered, unsalted popcorn. Offer your child whole wheat bread instead of white bread.
    • Limit foods that have little or no fiber, such as ice cream, cheese, meat, and processed foods, if your child gets constipated easily.
  • Gently massage your child's belly. This may help relieve discomfort. You can also have your child lie on his or her back, legs flexed onto his or her belly, and rotate his or her legs in a clockwise direction.
  • If your child is having rectal pain because he or she is unable to have a bowel movement, try the following:
    • A warm bath in the tub. This may help relax the muscles that normally keep stool inside the rectum (anal sphincter) and help pass the stool.
    • If your child is age 6 months or older and the warm bath does not work, use 1 or 2 glycerin suppositories to lubricate the stool, making it easier to pass. Use glycerin suppositories only once or twice. If constipation is not relieved or develops again, discuss the problem with your doctor.
  • Do not give laxatives or enemas to children without first talking to your doctor. Children should not need an enema or laxatives to have a bowel movement.

Symptoms to watch for during home treatment

Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home treatment:

  • Constipation or changes in the stool persist after 48 hours of home treatment in a baby younger than 3 months.
  • Constipation persists after 1 week of home treatment in a child age 3 months to 11 years.
  • Rectal pain develops or increases.
  • Blood in the stool develops or increases.
  • Your child's symptoms become more severe or frequent.
1

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 02, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
Next Article:

Today on WebMD

child with red rash on cheeks
What’s that rash?
plate of fruit and veggies
How healthy is your child’s diet?
 
smiling baby
Treating diarrhea, fever and more.
Middle school band practice
Understanding your child’s changing body.
 

worried kid
fitArticle
boy on father's shoulder
Article
 
Child with red rash on cheeks
Slideshow
girl thinking
Article
 

babyapp
New
Child with adhd
Slideshow
 
rl with friends
fitSlideshow
Syringes and graph illustration
Tool
 
6-Week Challenges
Want to know more?
Chill Out and Charge Up Challenge – How to help your tribe de-stress and energize.
Spark Change Challenge - Ready for a healthy change? Get some major motivation.
I have read and agreed to WebMD's Privacy Policy.
Enter cell phone number
- -
Entering your cell phone number and pressing submit indicates you agree to receive text messages from WebMD related to this challenge. WebMD is utilizing a 3rd party vendor, CellTrust, to provide the messages. You can opt out at any time.
Standard text rates apply