Child Constipation

Constipation in children is usually diet related and can be treated by dietary changes. A diet rich in fibre is recommended, including whole foods, such as beans and vegetables. Fruits which can be eaten with the skin are preferable, e.g. apples as well as raisins, figs, prunes and high-fibre muffins. Give about a half a gram of fibre per kg of body weight, not exceeding 35g. Add the fibre gradually over several weeks to avoid bloating and gas. Olive oil `is also beneficial. Teach the child to chew properly. This will aid digestion and waste elimination.

Things to avoid

Avoid processed foods, high fat content foods and lots of sugar. Instead of fizzy drinks, children should drink water and diluted fruit juices, these help soften the stool. Dilute apple, pear and prune juice with water and offer it frequently to the child throughout the day.  Excessive dairy product should be avoided, including whole milk, hard cheese, ice-cream and yoghurt. Limit daily milk to 250 ml. Too much milk is often sufficient cause of constipation. Laxatives and enemas are not recommended as they are too strong and may harm a child?s stomach.

Toilet Routine


A daily toilet routine is essential. The child should go to the toilet within 30 minutes after each meal. Do not rush the child.

Massage


This is a possible alternative. Gently massaging the belly in a clockwise direction can help to relax the muscles and promote bowel activity.

Medication

Constipation may be a side-effect of certain medication. A course of antibiotics can also upset the balance of the normal gut flora.


Breast Fed Babies


Little babies who are breast fed may tend not to excrete solids for a few days at a time. This is normal and not a cause for concern. Apply almond oil or Vaseline to the baby?s rectum to assist excretion.