Constipation, Age 11 and Younger
Constipation, Age 11 and Younger
Constipation can usually be treated
effectively at home.
- Make sure your child is drinking adequate amounts
- If you are switching from breast milk to formula, give
your baby no more than
1 fl oz (30 mL) to
2 fl oz (60 mL) of water and no
more than 2 times each day for the first 2 to 3 weeks. Be sure to give your
baby the suggested amount of formula for feedings plus the extra water between
feedings. Do not give extra water for longer than 3 weeks unless your doctor
tells you to.
If your child is older than 6 months, add fruit juices, such as apple, pear, or
prune juice, to relieve the constipation.
- After age 6 months, give
0.5 Tbsp (7 mL) to
2 Tbsp (30 mL) of prune juice.
Increase the amount slowly over time.
- At age 9 months, add
1.5 Tbsp (22 mL) to
3 Tbsp (45 mL) of strained
prunes per day.
- If fruit juices do not help, add baby foods with a
high fiber content twice a day. High-fiber baby foods include cooked dried
beans or peas (legumes), apricots, prunes, peaches, pears, plums, and spinach.
- For children age 12 months and older, add high-fiber foods.
A diet with enough fiber (20 to 35 grams each day) helps the body form soft, bulky stool.
- Give your child at least 1 cup of fruit a day. Choose whole fruit instead of fruit juice.
- Give your child at least 1 cup of vegetables a day.
- Increase the amount of high-fiber foods, such as bran flakes,
bran muffins, oatmeal, brown rice, beans, and unbuttered, unsalted popcorn.
Offer your child whole wheat bread instead of white bread.
- Limit foods that have little or no fiber, such as ice cream, cheese, meat, and processed foods, if your child gets constipated easily.
massage your child's belly. This may help relieve discomfort. You can also have
your child lie on his or her back, legs flexed onto his or her belly, and
rotate his or her legs in a clockwise direction.
- If your child is
having rectal pain because he or she is unable to have a bowel movement, 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.
- If your child is age 6 months or older and the warm bath does not
work, use 1 or 2 glycerin suppositories to lubricate the stool, making it
easier to pass. Use glycerin suppositories only once or twice. If constipation
is not relieved or develops again, discuss the problem with your doctor.
- Do not give laxatives or enemas to children without
first talking to your doctor. Children should not need an enema or laxatives to
have a bowel movement.
Symptoms to watch for during home treatment
Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home
- Constipation or changes in the stool persist
after 48 hours of home treatment in a baby younger than
- Constipation persists after 1 week of home treatment in a child age 3 months to 11
- Rectal pain develops or increases.
- Blood in the stool develops or increases.
- Your child's symptoms
become more severe or frequent.
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
August 2, 2012
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