Curing Constipation In Toddlers
Just like with babies, the biggest cause of constipation in toddlers (and older children and adults too) is diet. Here are some dietary adjustments you should make to help prevent constipation in your toddler:
- Give your tot 3–5 pieces of fresh fruit per day – make fruit the go-to snack for all family members and replace breakfast cereals with fresh fruit in the mornings
- Reduce overly processed foods like sweet and savoury treats, bread that can stay ‘fresh’ for a long time due to preservatives, pasta bakes, pizza, etc. – there’s just not enough fibre in them; instead there are many ingredients that contribute to drying out of stools
- Increase lightly cooked or raw vegetables if your tot is old enough – just watch for choking
- Remember that legumes (chickpeas, beans, lentils) and lesser-used wholegrains like millet and spelt are excellent providers of fibre and protein
- Don’t try to give fibre that has been stripped from other foods and processed into a separate product – this just causes bloating
- Increase water and rooibos tea intake and avoid most other drinks like processed fruit juices, coffee and cola
If your tot has constipation, implement these strategies:
- Play active games with her regularly, like dancing, running, jumping, swimming and roly-poly games
- Apply some lubricating oil around her anal area when she needs to pass a stool to make the process easier
- Rub her lower back as she strains
- Massage the midpoint of the underside of her left heel with your index finger knuckle for 2–3 minutes twice a day
- Place her in a warm bath when she seems to need the loo but can’t go – being in water stimulates bowel action
It may be necessary to clear Baby’s bowel using a paediatric glycerine suppository first if the constipation has become chronic, but be careful not to become reliant on laxatives; the more you use them, the lazier the bowel will become. Rather opt for homeopathic remedies for digestive discomfort or probiotics to help maintain a natural balance in the gut, as these don’t have laxative effects. If none of the treatments suggested here help, or your tot has a problem with recurring constipation, a doctor may need to check that there isn’t perhaps another underlying cause.
Little ones who are tense, anxious, or sensitive tend to struggle with constipation more often. Try to help your tot relax, and reflect on whether your stress might be carried over to her. It can also help to give her a homeopathic remedy to help ease her anxiety.
Sometimes the rush in homes early in the morning can be part of the problem. The early morning is the body’s natural excretory time for most people – however, if one is rushing around to get the day started, toilet urges are often ignored and become suppressed. By the time the urge returns, the stool may be so dry that it is difficult to pass – just another way constipation starts! It might be necessary to wake up earlier so that she has enough time to go to the toilet before the day really begins.
If your tot’s natural time to need the loo to pass a stool is later in the day, try to create a quiet, relaxed atmosphere and read to her while she sits on the loo. It’s not a ‘milestone’, so don’t put pressure on her, and don’t try and keep her in place for longer than 5-10 minutes.