Getting back into your usual routines after a busy holiday season can be tough, and that goes for your little ones, too. Today we’ve got some helpful tips from our friends at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles that can offer relief for your child’s occasional constipation.
Constipation is a common problem for many children. Did you know that making simple changes to your child’s diet can often make a big difference? Bowel patterns are different for each child, but you can watch for patterns of less frequent bowel movements than normal — for instance, if stools are very hard and dry or if there is pain. Here are some nutrition and lifestyle tips to try if you feel your child is suffering from constipation.
- For young infants, talk with your pediatrician about giving small amounts of prune or pear juice for a short period of time. For older children, the focus should first be on adding in high-fiber foods every day. Some great choices include peas, broccoli, potatoes (with skin) and all types of beans.
- For fruit, keep the peel on when possible, and include fruits like apricots, apples, pears, berries, plums or raisins.
- For grains, choose whole-grain and high-fiber breads and cereals. Try changing your child’s bread to whole wheat, and choosing whole-grain pasta and brown rice more often. Be sure to check the fiber content found on the food label and pick the highest amount when possible.
- Drink more water. Have your child carry a water bottle to school and keep one handy in the car and when out of the house.
Finally, make sure they stay active! Exercise helps move all our muscles, including those that help us make bowel movements.
If left untreated, constipation can cause pain and discomfort, and even lead to soiling between bowel movements, occasional bleeding and more serious health complications. Constipation can cause children to hold it in because of the pain, making the problem worse over time. In more severe cases, your child may require additional medication as prescribed by your pediatrician. But making some healthy changes to your child’s diet, including fiber-rich foods and more water, can go a long way in helping keep them regular.
~Michelle Brotherwood, RD, CDE, Clinical Dietician II
Michelle received her Bachelor of Science in human nutrition and completed a dietetic internship at Ryerson University, Toronto. She has been practicing for 12 years and is a certified diabetes educator with a focus on cystic fibrosis. She joined CHLA’s pediatric pulmonary department in 2012.
This post is solely for informational purposes. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for medical advice. Before undertaking any course of treatment or dietary/health changes, you should seek the advice of your physician or other health care provider.