Constipation in Children
Constipation is a common occurrence in children. Often, they will “hold it in” because they are too busy playing, they don’t want to use a public bathroom, or they are afraid of having a painful bowel movement. The longer the child holds in the stool, the harder it becomes and the more difficult it is to pass. Other causes of constipation may be related to your child’s diet and/or activity.
Treating and Preventing Constipation
Increase your child’s fluid intake. Fluids keep the stool soft. Avoid drinks with caffeine and added sugar like sodas. Have your child drink more water. Pure fruit juices should also be consumed. Apple juice, grape juice, and pomegranate juice are particularly helpful in preventing constipation in children. To get your child to drink more water, dilute their juices with it.
For fast relief, have your child drink some warm prune juice.
Fiber increases the bulk of stools, makes them softer, and helps move them through the intestines. Most Americans, children and adults, do not include near enough fiber in their diets. Besides treating and preventing constipation, fiber has many other health benefits.
Foods high in fiber include unprocessed wheat bran, whole-grain bread, fresh and dried fruits, vegetables, and beans. Popcorn is a fun food for children that is also high in fiber but, instead of adding butter and salt, add some diced dried fruits such as raisins or apples.
To get your child to eat more vegetables (and increase their fluid intake), make a healthy homemade vegetable soup.
Gradually increase your child’s intake of fiber to prevent bloating and gas.
Limit saturated fats and avoid trans fats (including hydrogenated oils). Many processed foods contain hydrogenated oils. When your child is constipated, limit “constipating foods” such as meat, cheese, ice cream, and chips.
It is unsure if whether physical activity prevents constipation in children. However, it does appear that many people who are less physically active do suffer from chronic constipation. Even if physical activity does not help, it definitely has many other health benefits so be sure your child does not spend all their free time in front of a TV or computer.
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