Treating Constipation in Children
Call 911 if your child is constipated and:
- Has severe abdominal pain
- Has fever
- Is vomiting
- Has a swollen abdomen
- Is listless
Constipation, or passing hard, painful stools, is a common problem in young children. Mild cases can be treated at home.
Call Doctor If:
- Your child has ongoing signs of constipation.
1. Increase Fluids
- For infants 4 months or older: add small amounts of fruit juice, such as prune, pear, or apple juices.
- For children 1 year or older: offer fruit juices and more water.
2. Increase Fiber
- For infants 4 months or older: add baby foods such as peas, beans, prunes, peaches, plums, and apricots.
- For children 1 year or older: add fruits, vegetables such as peas, beans, and broccoli, and whole-grain foods such as brown rice, whole wheat bread, graham crackers. Four to five prunes a day is also a very good source of fiber.
- Cut down on candies and sweets. Limit milk and cheese to 16-20 ounces.
3. Encourage Good Habits
- Get your toddler to sit on the potty or toilet after meals.
- Have your toddler stay on the potty or toilet for 10 minutes each time.
- Have your toddler keep her feet on the floor when she's on the potty. Use a foot stool if she is on the toilet.
- Reward your child for having a bowel movement.
- If anxiety about toilet training is playing a role in constipation, switch back to diapers temporarily.
4. See Your Pediatrician
- If symptoms continue, there is blood in the stool, or continued abdominal pain even after a bowel movement, call your pediatrician.
- Never give a laxative to an infant or child without talking to a pediatrician first.