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 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. This is normal when toilet training, constipation can be a sign of resistance to this and this can be difficult to overcome and may take some time.

Patience and positive reinforcement is necessary. Also, re-assessing the child's readiness for toilet training may be required. If it 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 this doesn't help, then we may need to give some medication to help the child achieve softened stools. It is best to try natural measures before using medication. The usual products for children are stool softeners or paraffin containing liquids. If the child is still constipated or in any pain, consulting your pharmacist of health care professional.