Constipation is more a problem of “how hard the stool is” as opposed to “how often it comes out”. If your child is stooling infrequently, but when he does stool it comes out soft (like peanut butter), you need not worry. Signs and symptoms of constipation include: painful stooling, hard ball-like stools, blood streaks on the stool, and abdominal pain. Constipation is not dangerous, however it should be treated in order to make the child comfortable and to prevent withholding of their stool. Constipation is best relieved by first using natural means. If the natural means fail to relieve the constipation then medications may be necessary.
Making sure your child has enough fiber in his diet is the first step. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children between the ages of 2 and 19 should eat their age + 5 grams of fiber each day. For example, a 3-year-old should be eating (3+5) 8 grams of fiber each day. Some high fiber foods include the following: Apples with skin (3.5g), Pears with skin (4.6g), 1 cup of Raspberries (5.1g), 1 stalk of Broccoli (5g), 1 cup of Carrots (4.6g), ½ cup of Kidney Beans (7.4g), ½ cup of Navy Beans (3.1g), and 1 cup of Whole-Wheat Cereal (3g).
- Two natural laxatives are prune juice and DARK Karo Syrup (found at the grocery store). If they are still bottle feeding, you can add 1 teaspoon of prune juice/Karo syrup in their bottle for every 1 ounce of formula or milk. You can do this 4x/day. You can give older children 4-8 ounces of juice in a cup. Apple and grape juice also work well. Allow 1-2 weeks for results.
- If your child goes longer than 4-5 days without stooling, you can then use 1 infant’s (<1 year) or regular glycerin suppository (>1 year) or pediatric Fleets enema as needed. Try not to overuse suppositories and enemas, as children can become dependent on them.
- Mix 2 teaspoons of Miralax (over-the-counter) in their food or drink 2x/day for 1-2 weeks.
- 2. Once the patient has been stooling well for 1 month, try decreasing the dose of their medication by ¼ to ½ teaspoon per dose. If after 1-2 weeks they are doing well, you can decrease the dose of their medication by ¼ to ½ teaspoon per dose again. Repeat this process until the child no longer requires the medication.
- 3. If your child goes longer than 4-5 days without stooling, you can then use 1 infant’s (<1 year) or regular glycerin suppository (>1 year) or pediatric Fleets enema as needed. Try not to overuse suppositories and enemas, as children can become dependent on them.