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. Do not give plain water to a baby younger than 2 months.
- 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 glycerin suppository 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.