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We all joke about bowel movements being a hot topic once you become a mom. And, well… it’s true! As parents, we are constantly keeping track of so many things, and making sure our kids have regular bowel movements is one of them! So, what happens when they DON’T? Here’s how to ease constipation in kids quickly and naturally — my tried and true methods for natural constipation relief!
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What causes child constipation?
As parents, we know just how important bathroom habits are for our kids health. But we also know that even when you’re doing everything right, your child can still get constipated! It’s common for kids to experience constipation, and my little ones are no exception. We’ve dealt with our fair share of constipation over the years and that’s because there are a number of things that can cause child constipation.
- Potty training too soon can cause constipation in toddlers: If you’re eager to get your little one out of diapers ASAP, I definitely can’t blame you. But, it’s a good thing to know that toilet training before your child is ready can cause constipation. Your toddlers, who are used to taking their #2’s in a diaper, are suddenly faced with a big change. This means they might do whatever they can to avoid getting on the toilet, even though they have to go!
- Sudden diet changes can lead to constipation: If your kids stop eating the foods they once enjoyed, it could cause digestive upset and constipation. Kids are notorious for being picky eaters—it’s a part of growing up and learning to make decisions for themselves. But, it can be problematic for their guts if there is a major change to their diet in a short amount of time!
Another reason kids experience constipation is when they are transitioning from breast milk or formula to solid foods. Be mindful that it’s a major change for your little one and that it can be stressful for their biome to adjust.
- Not eating enough fiber can make your kid constipated: Fiber, fiber, fiber. It’s an important ingredient for your kids to eat if you want them to have healthy bowel movements. Fiber helps keep their digestive tract healthy. It helps give their poop volume, so it’s easier to pass through the digestive tract. Eating a diet that’s not full of fiber? It can lead to not only constipation but other digestive issues as your children get older.
- Dehydration can lead to constipation: If your kids aren’t drinking enough water, their intestines have a much harder time passing waste. Dehydration can cause constipation in kids, especially when they’re really little. So, make sure they’re sipping plenty of water throughout the day.
- Stress can cause constipation in kids: Parents aren’t the only ones who get anxious. Our kids experience stress, too. It can happen when your little one is starting school, heading to a new daycare, moving, or really at any time. Research shows that emotional distress and everyday stress can affect your child’s digestive function and actually prevent his or her gut from having healthy bowel movements. If your child is constipated, it could be because he or she is on edge.
- Digestive issues lead to constipation: If your child suffers from a digestive disorder, like IBS, this can cause constipation. It can also start to become an issue if your child has another medical condition that affects their gut or immune system.
- It’s just a bad bathroom day: Is your digestion always ticking like clockwork? Even for those of us who have very regular bathroom habits, some days…things are just off. That’s true for you and true for your kids! Sometimes, we just don’t know what’s causing our kids to be constipated, and as long as it’s not a frequent occurrence or chronic situation, that’s OK!
Is your child constipated? Symptoms of constipation in kids
There are certain circumstances that make it obvious your child is constipated. When they’re quite young and you’re changing diapers every day, you KNOW if they’re gone #2 and exactly how many times. But, as your children get older, it can be a bit trickier to monitor their bathroom habits without flat out asking, ‘Kiddo, have you pooped today?’
Plus, every kid has unique bathroom habits. Some go once a day and that’s their normal. For others, it’s more like 2-3 times a day and that’s their standard. Whatever the case may be for your kids, here are some of the signs and symptoms that would suggest your child is constipated.
- Less frequent bathroom visits: If you notice your child is headed off to the toilet less often than his or her normal, this could mean they’re constipated.
- Hard or dry stool: If you took a peek and your child’s poop looks like a rock, it might mean he or she is constipated. Stool that’s too solid or appears dry in texture is common when constipated.
- Having a tough time in the bathroom: If you hear a whole lot of grunting when your child is on the toilet and it seems like they’re really straining to with that bowel movement, it could be constipation.
- Feeling full or bloated: If your normally ravenous child claims they’re too full to eat dinner, or appears bloated, they might be experiencing constipation.
- Pain while pooping: If your little one is uncomfortable or in pain while pooping, it’s cause for concern and could mean that constipation is to blame.
- Blood in stool: If you notice a little bit of blood in your child’s stool or on the toilet paper, it’s an indicator that there’s something going on and it might mean your child is constipated.
- Stomach pain: If your child has a tummy ache, they might need to poop and constipation is preventing them from doing so!
How can I help my constipated child poop?
If your child is constipated and you want to help them pass a bowel movement, fast, there are some things you can do that should offer fast relief. But, before you reach for the laxatives, keep in mind that kids and their digestive systems are more sensitive than us adults. Choose only kid-safe supplements and gentle home remedies for your little one.
- Hydrate! Start by giving your toddler or child water. Lots of water! Hydration is so important for healthy digestion, and when your kid is constipated, drinking water can help get things moving. When your kids are well-hydrated, so is their stool, and that makes it easier to have a healthy bowel movement. Throw an electrolyte Nuun tab into their water for even better hydration!
- Fill ‘Em up with fiber: I know it can be tough to get your kids to eat anything that even seems healthy, but fiber doesn’t have to be gross or unappetizing. Serve up a dish made with baked beans, sneak some flaxseed into your baked goods, or give your little ones a big bowl of fiber-filled fruit. Choose apples, pears, or bananas to help treat constipation in kids.
Oatmeal is known to be a great food to eat when you’re battling constipation. This is because oats are high in both soluble and insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber helps food to pass more quickly by adding bulk to the stool, and soluble fiber dissolves in water and forms a gel-like material that helps stool pass more easily. Oatmeal with fresh fruit (more good fiber!) and a drizzle of maple syrup is a favorite at our house! Also, apples and bananas are great with oatmeal and for constipation!
- Grab a gentle laxative: If you’re intimidated by the term ‘laxative,’ I don’t blame you. It brings to mind stomach cramps, painful elimination, and more. But, there are some incredible laxative products on the market now, and one of my favorites is safe, gentle, and perfect for your constipated kid. Gryph & Ivyrose Belly Works – Herbal Digestion Support offers excellent support thanks to tried and true herbs! Sprouted rice provides fiber and a bunch of minerals and vitamins. Asian yam encourages regular, pain-free bowel movements. Licorice root soothes the stomach and promotes healthy digestion.
- Moms, your kids need magnesium! Did you know that magnesium is also a natural laxative for kids, too? It’s an important mineral your kids should consume every day, but it’s especially helpful if your child hasn’t had a bowel movement and needs a little extra help! I like to give my kids a liquid Magnesium supplement called Pure Encapsulations Magnesium Glycinate Liquid. I mix it into oatmeal for the ultimate anti-constipation meal.
How to prevent constipation in kids
Wondering how to help prevent constipation in the first place? There are lots of things you can do to support your kids digestive wellness. Of course, a healthy, balanced diet is the best way to help prevent constipation in kids. But, I know it’s not always easy to convince a finicky toddler to eat all their veggies. Here are some other ways you can help your kids have frequent and healthy bowel movements.
- Make probiotics an everyday staple: It can be tempting to only reach for probiotics when your kid is constipated. But, adding them to their everyday diet is a great way to help prevent constipation in kids. They deliver healthy bacteria that support overall gut function and help ensure your child’s digestive tract is balanced and healthy. I give them to my kids every day, and if one of them is constipated, I bump up the dose and give them two a day until they’ve pooped.
One of my favorite kid-friendly probiotic supplements is Gryph & Ivyrose Children’s Chocolate Probiotics. They’re packed with 3 billion live bacteria per serving…and they’re chocolate flavored. If I forget their daily probiotics — they remind me!
- Get chiropractic care: My family has been going to a chiropractor regularly for years! We have found chiropractic care to help with a number of things, constipation included. Misalignment in the spine can interrupt communication between the nervous system and the large intestine. An adjustment might be just what your child needs to get everything aligned and working properly! (We have several chiropractors we highly recommend throughout the Madison area! If you don’t currently have a chiropractor, send us a message and we can help you find one near you!)
- Help your kids de-stress: If your kid is anxious and stressed, it can affect their bowel movements and lead to constipation. Help them develop healthy stress-relief habits now, to help prevent constipation, and other health issues from happening as they get older. You can also add a mood-support supplement to their diet. I like Charlotte’s Web Hemp Gummies: Calm. They’re hemp gummies that are so soothing and the perfect thing to add to your daily routine if your little one is a little anxious.
- Stick to a schedule: Routines aren’t necessarily glamorous or fun. But they are an effective way to help your kid know what to expect. Not only is this a great way to help them stress less, but it’s also good to establish set eating times, sleeping routines, and bathroom breaks. Help prevent constipation by serving meals at the same time each day — and remind your child to use the bathroom frequently.
- Stay active! Exercise helps prevent constipation. Really! Make sure your little one isn’t spending too much time on the couch or in front of the TV to help with healthy bowel movements. Regular activity keeps their metabolism strong and can help relieve uncomfortable constipation symptoms if your kid is currently backed up.
Constipation In children: When to worry
Occasional constipation is common. It’s something that many children — and adults! — face from time to time. On average 1 out of every 20 visits a child makes to the doctor is constipation-related. But, if your child is experiencing constipation for more than a couple of weeks and you’ve tried everything listed above without much improvement, seek medical help. In rare instances, constipation can be a symptom of a more serious kid’s health issue, so take your child in to get their gut checked.
Here are some of the most severe constipation symptoms that require a visit to the doctor, ASAP.
- Fecal impaction
- Bladder control issues
- Bleeding from the rectum
- Large amounts of blood in the stool
- Severe abdominal pain
- Weight loss
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Ask Our Team for More Kid’s Constipation Questions
With these things in mind, I hope you’ll be able to eliminate constipation and help your kids have healthier poop habits. I know it’s not a topic we often want to discuss, but poop, pooing, messes, accidents, and everything in between make up a big part of life when you have little ones. And supporting your children’s digestive wellness is an important part of their overall health!
If you want help choosing gut supplements for your constipated kids, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team. We’re here to help you choose the best poop-moving support for your child. Contact our team here.