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Children's Health

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Constipation, Age 11 and Younger - Prevention

Diet

A nonconstipating diet is the best way to prevent constipation. If constipation develops, a nonconstipating diet will help restore normal bowel movements.

For babies younger than 12 months:

  • Breast-feed your baby. Constipation is rare in breast-fed babies.
  • Make sure you are adding the correct amount of water to your baby's formula.

For children age 12 months and older:

  • Make sure your child is drinking enough fluids. When the weather gets hot or when your child is getting more exercise, make sure he or she is drinking more fluid.
  • 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.
  • Set a good example for your child by drinking plenty of fluids and eating a high-fiber diet.

Toilet training

Constipation sometimes becomes a problem when children start toilet training:

  • Encourage your child to go when he or she feels the urge. The bowels send signals when a stool needs to pass. If your child ignores the signal, the urge will go away, and the stool will eventually become dry and difficult to pass.
  • Set aside relaxing times for having bowel movements. Urges usually occur sometime after meals. Establishing a daily routine for bowel movements, such as after breakfast, may help.
  • Make sure your child has good foot support while he or she is on the toilet. This will help flex your child's hips and place the pelvis in a more normal "squatting" position for having a bowel movement.
  • Make sure your child gets plenty of exercise throughout the day. Set a good example for your child by following healthy routines of eating, exercising, and going to the toilet.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 14, 2014
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.
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