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How is constipation in children treated?

Your child's doctor will talk with you about specific care for your child. Some general guidelines include:

  • Changes in your child’s diet may make it easier for him to have a bowel movement by making the stool softer and “bulkier.” Children fed a variety of foods usually do not need laxatives.
  • Give your child plenty of water or liquids (as long as your child has not had fluids limited by his doctor).
  • Offer your child at least one glass (4 to 6 ounces) of fruit juice a day, such as apple, prune or grape juice.
  • Decrease milk to three glasses a day.
  • It takes time for eating habits to change how the stool is formed—sometimes up to three to five days. Add fiber to the diet gradually, but remember adding a lot of fiber all at once may cause bloating, gas or diarrhea.
  • Increasing high fiber foods in your child’s diet can be helpful. Some high fiber foods include unmilled bran, bran flakes, bran muffins, shredded wheat, graham crackers, oatmeal, high fiber cookies, brown rice or whole wheat bread. Corn and popcorn are also good fiber sources.
  • Offer your child two to three fruits and two to three vegetables a day such as prunes, figs, dates, raisins, peaches, pears, apricots, beans, peas, cauliflower, broccoli, corn and cabbage.

If your child is constipated, be sure that they are drinking an adequate amount of fluids, most importantly water. It's very important. Sometimes we will try a little bit of juice. Sometimes the sugar in the juice will help to keep fluid in the intestines, which will help with constipation.

You can also try to increase your child's fiber intake. The best sources of fiber are fresh fruits and vegetables. If none of these options work, please contact your pediatrician before starting any over-the-counter constipation medications or suppositories.

Constipation in children is usually treated with a laxative and an adjustment in fiber. Toilet training may play a role as well.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.