Mother teaching her kid how to wash handsConstipation may be a common problem in many children, but it isn’t actually much of a concern. This is mainly because it often gets better with the right diet and home remedies. It can also be prevented with healthy eating and fitness habits.

What are the signs I should look for?

Having difficulty pooping is one basic sign that your little one is constipated. But then again, there is no exact definition of normal bowel activity in kids. A child who doesn’t go every day, for instance, is not necessarily constipated. Some, on the other hand, may have a bowel movement twice a day, while others may go every other day or once every two days.

It is important to know the signs of constipation and what you can do to help your child get relief. Reputable pediatric clinics in Salem share some of the signs and symptoms of constipation in kids:

  • Belly or abdominal pain
  • Poop that is hard and dry (doesn’t pass easily)
  • Pain or straining during bowel movements
  • Fewer bowel movements than normal
  • Stool mark or stains in their underwear

Why is my child constipated?

Two kids using crayonsThere are several factors that can cause kids to become constipated. It may be due to their diet, certain medications, as well as ignoring the urge to go to the bathroom (when they really need to).

  • A low-fiber diet. If your child’s diet doesn’t have enough fiber and water, constipation may be likely. The same is also true if your child eats lots of meat, white bread, and processed food. Take note that fiber-rich food helps the bowels move, with water and other fluids assisting in the process.
  • Certain medications. Some medicines, such as antacids and pain medications, can cause constipation. This also the case for some iron-deficiency medications and antidepressants.
  • Avoiding the urge to go. Some kids ignore internal urges because they are too busy doing other things or don’t want to use a public restroom. Withholding will only make it more difficult to go later.
  • Stress. This can also cause constipation, especially when children are anxious about problems at home or school. Studies suggest that emotional issues can affect the digestive system, which may then cause stomach conditions such as constipation or diarrhea.

How can I treat (or prevent) constipation?

Here are several ways to manage constipation in kids:

Increase their fiber intake. Make sure that your child is eating enough fruits, vegetables, grain, and other fiber-rich food such as apples, ripe bananas, oranges, and oatmeal. Kids also need to drink more water, especially when you’re adding fiber in their diet.

  • Encourage them to get plenty of exercise. This is important not only to have regular bowel movements but also to avoid other health conditions such as being overweight. The exercise can be as simple as riding a bicycle, walking in the park, or playing catch.
  • Have a regular mealtime. Regular meal schedules may help children develop regular bathroom habits. Just make sure to serve healthy (especially fiber-rich) food and avoid soda and caffeinated drinks.
  • Get them into the habit. After a meal is an ideal time for getting children into the habit of having regular bowel movements. You can have them sit on the toilet for about 10 minutes at the same time every day.

Constipation is not much of a concern, but if the common remedies don’t seem to work, it is best to call a doctor. You should also talk to your child’s pediatrician about using laxatives or other over-the-counter medicine.