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    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:

    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.

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by Roy Benaroch, MD on September 11, 2015

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