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Constipation in children is incredibly common. Between the lack of exposure to fiber-rich foods, not drinking enough fluids, and the stress that comes with living in a world filled with technology, it is more difficult than ever for children to have regular bowel movements.
The good news is that there are some great ways you can help your child get relief from this uncomfortable condition! Check out this video for 3 great ways to encourage regular bowel movements in your kid.
Continue reading on for some more great tips!
What is Constipation?
One of the most common GI (gastrointestinal) problems in children is constipation. When kids have hard stools, they can’t pass as much waste through their intestines. This is because it gets stuck or locked up somewhere along the way, leading to a lack of movements and an inability to absorb necessary nutrients like vitamins A & B12. This can give children digestive and kidney diseases later down the road if not resolved.
You should take chronic constipation in children seriously. Occasional constipation is not uncommon, but if your child’s symptoms aren’t going away or they are continuously experiencing constipation, you may want to see your child’s doctor.
Symptoms of Constipation
Your child will give you some signs that they are constipated. You can typically diagnose constipation at home, but you may need to visit your child’s doctor if you’re at all concerned. Here are the most common symptoms:
- You may notice your child is having fewer bowel movements than what is normal for them. Most healthy individuals have at least three bowel movements a week, but keep in mind your child’s bowel habits may be different.
- The stools being passed are large, or your child is having hard stools.
- You may notice that your child complains of painful bowel movements.
Here’s how you can help your child reduce these symptoms of constipation in children and get things moving:
Belly Massages Can Encourage a Bowel Movement
One of the most effective ways to get a child to have a bowel movement is by massaging their abdomen in circular motions. You can do this while they lay on their back or stomach, whichever works best for them. This is great for younger children and older children alike.
If you want to add an extra element of comfort and relaxation into this process, massage oil will make your child’s skin smooth and will make them feel good.
Take a Probiotic to Promote Good Bowel Habits
Taking a quality probiotic can help your little one get relief from constipation and prevent constipation altogether. Good bacteria are essential for digestion, so if there’s not enough of it to go around – constipation can be the result.
Look for a high-quality probiotic that has plenty of lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, which can help your child have a bowel movement and relieve chronic constipation. You can find these in yogurt, although it’s best to look at the ingredient list first – if too much sugar is present, you’re better off getting them from another source.
Chiropractic Care May Encourage Bowel Movements
A chiropractor may help constipation in children by working on their spine. The adjustments in the lower back, neck and occipital ridge (the bony protrusion found at the base of the skull) are essential for proper nervous system control – including bladder & bowel movement function, which means constipation relief is possible with regular visits.
The body is made up of different systems and parts, but when one of those parts is off, it can throw everything else off. A chiropractor can help get your child’s body back into alignment, which in turn improves their nervous system and can help prevent constipation symptoms.
Include High Fiber Foods in Your Child’s Diet
One great way to get constipation in children under control is by encouraging them to eat more fruits and veggies (high fiber foods). Children can develop constipation if they have little or no fiber in their diets. The variety within this food group allows kids to meet their daily dietary needs and provides much-needed fiber, which helps stool pass through the intestines without difficulty or pain.
A good rule of thumb when looking at fruit and veggie choices is color-based: aim for highly-colored produce like reds, greens, and purples. A high-fiber diet is great for treating constipation and creating good bowel habits.
Green vegetables are excellent choices for the relief of constipation in children because they contain high magnesium levels, which helps relax the muscles within the bowel wall, allowing them to pass bulky stool and have a regular bowel movement more easily.
A few examples include spinach, kale & broccoli – although other options exist as well. A great to incorporate these into your child’s diet is by making smoothies with fresh or frozen fruits (bananas) and veggies. You can also add some yogurt if you want a thicker consistency. So, ensure your child gets enough fiber in their diet!
Encourage Daily Physical Activity
Another option to relieve constipation in children is to encourage them to get up and moving. Good exercise habits can help improve the health of a constipated child. The body needs a minimum of 60 minutes per day of physical activity – this doesn’t need to be all at once; you can break it down into smaller chunks throughout the day.
Combining exercise with bowel movement release works wonders because the muscles involved will hold less waste when they’re contracting, which means symptoms of constipation go away fast. Try taking your child outside during their playtime or after meals.
Drink Plenty of Fluids
Drinking plenty of water and other clear liquids is another relief option for constipation in children. Water offers the necessary hydration boost that helps fill up stool and keep constipated bowels moving smoothly through the colon without problem or pain. The colon absorbs water while it makes stool, so ensure your child drinks plenty of liquids. This doesn’t mean your child needs to drink a ton at once, but making sure they have several glasses throughout their day will help them stay healthy and happy.
Take a Warm Bath
It can also be beneficial if you’re able to get them into a warm bathtub before bedtime, where they’ll relax, which means bowel movements are likely to follow shortly after that. Maximize your child’s constipation relief each night by getting things going early in the evening they don’t have problems during the night.
Cut Back on Dairy and Processed Foods
You can achieve relief of constipation in children by cutting back on dairy or processed foods that may cause constipation. Foods with a high sugar content have the opposite effect of what you’re looking for when it comes to constipation alleviation, so try eliminating them – instead, opt for whole grains, which are lower in sugar and higher in fiber.
This will help your child avoid discomfort and straining during bowel movements because they’ll pass more easily without having to work too hard at anything. The bonus is avoiding blood from contact with stool due to tearing within the anus area (anal fissures), which can happen if constipated bowels don’t move properly through your child’s rectum & anus every time.
Constipation in children is more common than most people think. Whether they are younger children switching from formula or breast milk to solid foods, a toddler going through toilet training, or older children who need to get more fiber in their diet, children sometimes get constipated. Leave the pain medicines on the shelf and consider diet, exercise, and water intake when dealing with constipation in children. Constipation treated quickly will lead to a happy child and colon.
To schedule a chiropractic adjustment for your child, click the link for our online scheduling form.