Constipation is a common problem in kids of all ages. Almost 1 out of 20 children is fighting with constipation. It is a condition when bowel movement becomes less frequent and stool becomes difficult to pass, which can cause pain and discomfort. Every child has different bowel patterns; some children have bowel movement 1 to 2 times a day, while other children go once in two to three days. Constipation is not just about how often your baby poops, but it’s also about how difficult it is for your baby to poop. As long as your child is healthy and passes normal stool without any pain or discomfort, having a bowel movement every third day is normal. Breast milk is easy for babies to digest, so it’s rare for babies on breastfeed to have constipation. While formula milk is thicker than breast milk, it takes a long time to pass through the digestive tract and may cause constipation. Generally the problem of constipation starts when the baby starts eating solid food. Especially in the present scenario, where kids are becoming more prone to processed and refined foods, constipation is becoming a common occurrence. Most of the packaged foods have additives that are difficult to digest by a small baby, which has just started on solids.
Symptoms of constipation in babies:
- Less than three bowel movement per week
- Stool that is dry, hard and difficult to pass
- Crying during bowel movement
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
- Feeling of bloating or uncomfortable
- Holding behavior such as crossing legs, clenching teeth, refusing to sit on the toilet, turning red in the face.
- Trace of liquid stool in your child’s underwear.
- Blood on the surface of hard stool.
There are things that may contribute to different causes of constipation in children, like change in their routine, eating and drinking habits. Some kids avoid having a bowel movement during their school time which is one of the biggest causes of constipation in children. Some other common causes of constipation in children are as mentioned below:
Causes of constipation in children:
Diet: Diet is one of the main causes of constipation in children. Eating foods that are high in fat and low in fiber may cause constipation in kids. Fiber absorbs water and causes stool to be large, softer and easier to pass. Increasing fiber intake helps cure constipation. Also the change in diet of small babies from breast milk to formula or when they start having solid food may lead to constipation.
Less fluids: Dehydration leads to constipation in many cases. The food you eat goes from your stomach to colon (large intestine), if you don’t have enough water in your body, the colon soaks up water from food waste, which dries out the stool making it hard in consistency and makes it difficult to push out of the body.
Withholding: Sometimes children refuse to have bowel movement because of pain in passing stool or they do not want to interrupt their play time. Some kids are not comfortable in using public toilets or school toilets hence, ignore their urge to bowel movement when they are out. All these reasons of withholding lead to constipation in kids. It is also observed, when parents begin toilet training too early; kids may become rebellious and hold in stool.
Change in routine: Change in kid’s routine like travelling, first time going to school or change in weather may result in constipation in kids.
Medication: There are certain medicines and dietary supplements that may contribute to one of the main causes of constipation in children.
Genetics: This may also be one of the causes of constipation in children. If any member of the family has constipation history, kids of that family are more likely to develop constipation, this comes under genetic factors.
However, constipation is easy to control and does not result in long term health problems if treated on time. However, if not taken seriously, over the period of months or years, it may become chronic. So, if your baby is suffering from this issue, try these easy home remedies for constipation to help them out.
Home remedies for constipation:
Exercise: Exercise and physical activity is equally important for both kids and adults. Lack of physical activity may leads to constipation. Physical activity helps with digestion by helping the intestinal muscles push stool through the digestive system. Always encourage your kids to play outdoors for at least an hour every day, this will stimulate their bowel movement.
Drink plenty of water: keep your child hydrated as mild dehydration can also cause constipation. Water is required to digest food and remove waste through the digestive tract. Increasing water content inside the gut can help soften stool and stimulate bowel movements. Give lots of water at regular intervals to your child for proper digestion. Other healthy drinks like coconut water, buttermilk, lemonade also contribute to a healthy digestive system.
Warm bath: Giving your child a warm bath can relax their abdominal muscles which may provide them relief from constipation. Soaking in warm water can also relax the anus and help release the stool.
Have enough dietary Fiber: Including fiber rich food to your kids diet helps in constipation. Food rich in dietary fiber is easier to pass through your digestive system and is considered one of the most effective home remedies for constipation. Fiber are of two types: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fibers are soluble in water whereas insoluble are not. Lack of soluble fiber in the diet makes stool hard and difficult to pass.
Follow the routine: Encourage your child to follow the morning routine of sitting on the toilet seat first, even if they don’t pass stool. This helps them to establish a healthy habit of going to the toilet before going to school and eventually they will start pooping also.
Abdominal massage: Try to gently massage your kid’s lower abdomen in a clockwise direction, do this a few times throughout the day this will help in digestion and activate baby’s bowel movement. Wait for 45 minutes after feeding before massaging your baby.
Apart from using the above home remedies for constipation, for long term relief you should make some dietary changes in your kids diet by adding fiber rich food in their daily diet chart. According to National Institute of Health (NIH) the fiber requirement of children depend upon age and sex. Generally they require 14 to 30.8 grams of fiber per day (kids above one year of age).
Foods that can help in treating constipation:
Apple: Apples are an easy way to boost the fiber content of your diet and cure constipation. One medium size apple with skin contains 4.4 gram of fiber. Apple has both soluble and insoluble fibers. Soluble fiber absorbs water and helps to soften stools; while insoluble fiber also helps the movement of stool through the digestive tract by adding extra bulk. According to a study, pectin in apple can accelerate the movement of the stool through the intestine and aid in constipation. (Why to eat one apple and banana everyday?)
Kiwi: Kiwi is not only rich in fiber but also contains a natural digestive enzyme actinidin which has positive effects on gut motility and bowel habits. With around 2.3 grams of fiber per kiwi fruit it helps in softening and increasing bulk of stool and also increases frequency of bowel movement. Kiwifruit have been shown to relieve constipation and improve bowel movement frequency in a number of clinical studies. This is because they are high in both soluble and insoluble fibers, which work together simultaneously. (How good is Kiwi for immunity?)
Prunes: Prunes also known as dried plums are commonly used for treating constipation. They are rich in fiber, with around 2 grams of fiber per 1 ounce. Prunes also have soluble and insoluble fibers. The soluble fiber in prune called cellulose, increases the amount of water in the stool and makes it easy to pass. Prunes also contain sorbitol and phenolic compounds that maintain gut health and may provide gastrointestinal benefits. (How to find that your child’s digestive system needs help?)
Yogurt: Yogurt contains living microorganisms known as probiotics which are also called good bacteria and helps to improve gut health and soften stool. The good bacteria produce short chain fatty acids and lactic acid that may improve bowel movement. It helps to regulate a child’s digestive system and decreases bloating, diarrhea, constipation. (What are some easy probiotics for kids?)
Broccoli: Just ½ cup of cooked broccoli contains 2.8 grams of fiber which aids in constipation. Rich in insoluble fiber making it an excellent food for smooth digestion. Sulforaphane, a compound present in broccoli may prevent the development of harmful microorganisms in your gut and digestive system. Broccoli is also loaded with vitamin C which plays a significant role in building immunity and promoting overall health. (Can you feed broccoli everyday for allergies?)
Chia seeds: according to a study by the US national library of medicine, chia seeds are of the most fiber dense food and about 40% of its weight is just fiber. It has insoluble fiber which helps to bulk up stool and thus prevent constipation. Chia seeds are also high in healthy fat, protein and cell protecting antioxidants.(How to use chia to detox the body?)
Whole grains: Whole grain delivers a variety of important nutrients that includes fiber, manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, zinc and iron. Whole grain includes oats, brown rice, whole wheat, quinoa, barley and rye. All of these are high in fiber and a great choice to prevent constipation. Just one ounce of wheat bran cereal gives you 10 grams of fiber. (How does this help with menstruation pain and anxiety?)
Nuts: Nuts are another fiber powerhouse, which help ease constipation. Almonds, pecans and walnuts have more fiber than other nuts. Just one ounce of almond contains 3.5 grams of fiber. One ounce of pecan contains 2.7 g fiber and one ounce of walnut has 1.9 gram fiber. Choose nuts that are dry roasted, rather than roasted in oil. Also high in healthy fats, potassium, sodium, calcium, protein and antioxidants these nuts contribute towards, getting a healthy body. (How much Walnut everyday is good for brain?)
Sweet potatoes: The high fiber content of the sweet potatoes help in preventing constipation and promotes a well-functioning digestive tract. According to a study, dietary fiber found in sweet potatoes such as cellulose, lignin and pectin helps in maintaining gut health and improves digestion. It also contains vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin E, potassium, magnesium, calcium that helps in overall health of your baby. (Easy sweet potato fries recipe)
Lemon: Lemon contains citric acid, a natural laxative that helps stimulate your digestive system and fights the toxins in your digestive tract. Lemon is also loaded with vitamin C that is helpful in treating indigestion. Vitamin C softens the stool and ensures an easy passage for food. Offer your child a glass of warm water with lemon juice in it to prevent constipation.(How to use lemon to keep healthy eyesight?)
Recipe for Quinoa Peas Meal
- ½ cup quinoa boiled in equal water
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 small onion chopped
- ½ cup peas
- 1 pod garlic and ginger chopped
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- lemon juice fresh
- green chilli chopped (optional)
- Chopped handful coriander
Heat oil in pan. Add cumin ginger garlic and onion. Saute for a minute. Add peas. Add salt. Add chillies. Cook for 3 min. Add boiled quinoa (no water at all). Cook for 5 min. Add lots of lemon juice to taste spicy salty and sour. All flavours! Garnish with coriander. Serve!
You can make the herbs and nuts chocolate and savoury spreads at home or ORDER | 0% preservative
(shipping in India only)
Read more blogs: