What Can I Give My child for Constipation?

Constipation in children can be difficult and complex. Firstly, we must clarify constipation. Constipation is defined as "difficult" or infrequent passage of faeces. This means the stools are hard and difficult to pass, or it has been quite some time since last passing a stool.

It is important to note that not everyone, particularly children, pass stools every day. Some babies, particularly when breastfed only pass stools once a week. During toilet training this can be a sign of resistance, which can be difficult to overcome. Patience and positive reinforcement is necessary. Re-assessing the child's readiness for toilet training may also be required. If the infrequency is not associated with toilet training, several questions need to be asked: -

  • How long since the child has gone to the toilet?
  • Are they showing signs of wanting to go?
  • Are they straining?
  • Are "pebbles" being passed?
  • Are they in any pain?
  • How regular are they usually?
  • Are they on any medication (as some can cause constipation)?
Usually, the first step is to increase fluid intake (ie. water). If the child is going every few days and the stools are not hard, then this is OK. If they are straining and in pain, increase fluid and products containing fibre. Prune juice is also good. If the child is still constipated or in any pain, consult your pharmacist or health care professional.