Constipation has become common in children, and not only is it uncomfortable, but it also can affect what and how much food a child eats! Learn how to ease your kids constipation so they can eat and feel well…
For kids who are selective eaters, getting in enough fiber and fluids can be a challenge. Many kiddos who turn their noses up at fruits and vegetables aren’t just picky, they’re also constipated.
Being constipated is uncomfortable!
When things get backed up, kids often aren’t as interested in food, they may be lethargic and cranky. This only makes their selective eating habits that much stronger.
Letting constipation go on too long can lead to painful bowel movements, withholding of stool, and both urine and stool accidents. So, what’s a parent to do?
Fortunately, there is help!
Annette Thomas MSPT and Jessica O’Connell MBA, RD, LD are the powerhouse mom professionals behind The Constipation Gurus for Kids. They provide a collaborative approach to constipation, encopresis and enuresis using natural, non-invasive solutions that actually work.
The Gurus have helped hundreds of children overcome constipation and experience bowel and bladder regularity. They’re here today to share their knowledge of constipation and provide 5 ways to help.
#1: Focus on Fluids to Ease a Child’s Constipation
Drinking more water is the #1 thing that will help your child’s constipation.
By the time food digests and makes it’s way through the GI tract, water has been removed and the stool can end up being very dry and hard. This is painful for your child to push out. Drinking plenty of fluids helps keep as much moisture in the stool as possible to help prevent this.
How Much Water Do Kids Need to Drink Everyday?
For toddlers, the goal is 16-24 oz., 4-8 year olds should aim for 56 oz. and 9-13 year olds should be getting more than 70 oz. of fluids each day. That’s A LOT of water. About 20% of these fluid recommendations can come from foods, but the rest should be from a beverage, preferably water.
Water rich foods can also help your child reach his goals. Offer things like lettuce, cucumbers, watermelon, strawberries, tomatoes, and cantaloupe.
Give this hydrating slushie a try:
- 2 cups of watermelon, chunked and frozen
- 1 cup frozen strawberries
- Half a cucumber, peeled and frozen
- Juice of half a lime
- Honey to taste
- Place frozen watermelon, strawberries, and cucumber in a blender. Blend on high
- Add just enough water to help blend smooth, starting with 1/4 cup
- Squeeze the juice of half of the lime into mixture
- Add honey to taste and blend again
- Enjoy as a slushie or pour into popsicle molds and freeze
#2: Understand the Types of Fiber
We all know we should be eating lots of fiber, but did you know too much fiber, or not the right kind of fiber, can actually make constipation worse? Soluble fiber like oats, beans, lentils, chia seeds, nuts, apples, and strawberries dissolve in water and act like a sponge.
It’s really beneficial for lowering blood sugar and cholesterol, but can actually make constipation worse by drawing water into the food, away from the stool. Insoluble fiber on the other hand, acts like a broom, helping food move through the GI tract without absorbing water.
Sources of insoluble fiber include whole grains, veggies like zucchini, broccoli, carrots, avocados, and leafy greens.
Other foods that might help are fruits high in sorbitol, a natural osmotic laxative: these include plums or prunes, pears, cherries, dates, apricots, and peaches. Berries and kiwi can also be very beneficial for keeping the stool soft and moving things along. If the only fruit your child eats is strawberries (soluble fiber), don’t panic! Just stay on top of fluids.
#3: Proper Potty Posture
Did you know there’s a right and wrong way to sit on the toilet?
If your child (or you) struggles with constipation, learning the proper potty position is critical. Your child’s feet should be supported with a stool (no dangling legs) and knees should be higher than her hips. Legs should be apart and your child should lean forward with a neutral spine.
#4: Work with a Pediatric Pelvic Floor Specialist
A pediatric pelvic floor specialist can help your child retrain the pelvic floor muscles so that they can hold and release stool and urine at appropriate times.
Stretching, strengthening, and breathing mechanics are taught to help with healthy bowel and bladder function.
The pelvic floor is made up of muscles and ligaments that support the bladder, rectum, and other pelvic organs. It plays an important role in having a bowel movement.
When these muscles are out of sync, it can prevent your child from having a bowel movement which can lead to constipation. A pelvic floor therapist can help retrain these muscles to work together in a coordinated manner.
#5 Get to the Root Cause
There are so many reasons your child might be constipated, but getting to the root cause is the only way to begin solving it. Some common reasons include:
- Your child’s diet is high in processed, low nutrient dense foods
- He isn’t sitting properly on the toilet and the rectum is not at the ideal angle to allow for easy defecation.
- She may have an undiagnosed food allergy or sensitivity
- He may be afraid of the stool falling into the toilet
- She isn’t drinking enough water
- He is actually contracting his pelvic floor muscles rather than relaxing and letting the stool come out
- She might not be able to feel the urge or sensation to go to the bathroom.
Whatever the reason, knowing the root cause will help guide you to the right solution.
Overcoming Constipation with More Help
Annette and Jessica have helped so many kids overcome their struggles with constipation. As moms, they know how overwhelming it can be and how helpless you feel watching your child struggle with this.
Doctors often recommend Miralax without determining the reason your child is constipated.
Miralax only softens the stool, it doesn’t help the child connect the urge to go with actually going. Many parents don’t want their child on Miralax at all. We understand all of these things and have solutions that work when nothing else has.
Check out the Constipation Guru’s new online course: Poop Boot Camp by clicking here.
Grab a Free Printable of these 5 Ways to Ease Constipation!
Annette and Jessica have a free printable of these steps that you can snag and have sent right to your inbox!
Click here to get the 5 Ways to Ease Constipation Printable
More about the Constipation Gurus!
Annette is a pediatric pelvic floor specialist and helps kids retrain their pelvic floor muscles to relax and contract appropriately to allow your child to poop with ease. Jessica is a registered dietitian who believes in a natural approach that helps keep stool soft and offers nutrition strategies that work for your child and family.
Annette and Jessica own The Constipation Clinic at Therapy Square in Epping, NH where they work with kids in person who struggle with constipation. They also offer virtual consults and a private Facebook subscription. To learn more about what Annette and Jessica do or to work with them, visit their website www.constipationgurus.com. Also follow them on Facebook and Instagram @TheConstipationGurusKids
More on Kids with Constipation
How to Overcome Chronic Constipation in Children
Surprising Natural Remedies for Constipation in Children that Work
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Something I just realized and want to share! I routinely encourage my son who struggles with constipation to drink water throughout the day, and he will when I ask him, but the quantity that he drinks never seems to change. I took a drink out of his water bottle and realized how hard it was to suck the water out! As a mom, I was so focused on buying leak proof water bottles and not on the flow. Needless to say he will be getting a different water bottle!
Thanks for sharing with the rest of us! That could be a simple solution that could make a difference for so many parents.
Interesting! I’m a dietitian and have never heard that soluble fibre isn’t helpful for constipation. I always believed that water drawn into the bowel was a good thing? If you have any references to support this guidance that would be so helpful. Thanks.
With the article written by The Constipation Gurus, we did reach out to them, so they can provide you with the response for you question! Just wanted to let you know!
Check out these articles that talk about the benefit of insoluble fiber for constipation. Feel free to reach out directly if you have more questions.