What can I do if my child is constipated?
There are many things you can do to help your child:
- Diet. You can start by increasing the amount of fluid your child drinks each day. If your baby is eating cereal, you can try adding a little prune juice to it. If you have an older child, make sure she or he is drinking plenty of water. You can also give your child prune juice, bran cereal, fruits and vegetables to increase the amount of fiber in his or her diet and help your child pass a stool. Avoid giving your child candy and refined sugars.
- Bowel habit training. Teach your child to go to the bathroom when he or she first feels the urge to have a bowel movement. You can help your child establish a regular bowel habit by asking your child to sit on the toilet for at least 10 minutes at about the same time each day, preferably after a meal. Make sure your child can place his or her feet firmly on the floor while sitting on the toilet. If this is not possible, put a footstool in front of the toilet. While your child is sitting on the toilet, you might let your child read a story book or listen to the radio.
- Medicine. Many laxatives are available to treat constipation in children. The choice of laxative depends on the age of your child and how serious the constipation is. Ask your family doctor to suggest a brand name and tell you how much to use.
- Start a reward program. Begin rewarding your child for just sitting on the toilet. For example, if your child sits on the toilet at the planned time, reward your child with a favorite activity. If your child has a bowel movement, give your child praise and a reward. Avoid using food as a reward. Young children may like to be awarded with stickers or stars on a chart. Older children may like to add up points for a larger reward, such as a trip to a movie theater or the park.