Constipation Treatment in Children

Depending on the circumstances, your child’s doctor may recommend:

A high-fiber diet with plenty of fluids

This means loading your child’s plate with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, high-fiber cereals, whole grain breads, and a variety of beans and other legumes, like chickpeas and lentils. Two good sources of fiber that kids are often happy to eat are trail mix and popcorn with minimal salt or butter. Foods containing probiotics, like yogurt, can also promote good digestive health. While focusing on fiber, don’t forget fluids. Your child should be drinking plenty of water throughout the day, along with some milk. Limit sugary drinks in children.

A stool softener to clear the bowels

These are safe in children, but should be used under the supervision of your pediatrician. Two common mistakes that parents make when giving their child a stool softener for constipation is not using a large enough dose, or stopping it too soon. For example, you might think that you can stop giving a stool softener after your child’s first normal-looking bowel movement, but stopping too soon may just set your child up for another bout of constipation. Some children may need to stay on a stool softener for a few weeks. Your doctor can advise you on the right dosing schedule for your child.

A laxative or enema

If an accumulation of fecal material creates a blockage, your child’s doctor may suggest a laxative or enema include polyethylene glycol and mineral oil to help remove the blockage. Never give your child a laxative or enema without the doctor’s OK and instructions on the proper dose.

Regular toilet time

Encourage your child to use the toilet first thing in the morning and after every meal or snack.

Other tips

Gently massage your child’s belly. This may help relieve discomfort.
If your child is having rectal pain because he or she is unable to have a bowel movement, you can try a warm bath in the tub. This may help relax the muscles that normally keep stool inside the rectum (anal sphincter) and help pass the stool.