|Subject: Constipation problems for toddler
My 3-year-old son has had a rough go of it when it
comes to pooping! We have tried laxatives and suppositories, and that
works for a day or two, but then he becomes constipated again and he
cries so hard you feel really bad for him!
Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
Thank you for writing and for seeking help for
The first consideration is one of definition.
Sometimes a parent believes that a child must have a movement each day,
because that is how he/she was raised. It's important to recognize that
a healthy child should not be urged to move his bowels on a fixed
schedule. Frequency of bowel movement varies from one child to another,
and even from week to week for the same child (this is especially true
for breastfed babies and toddlers, who may take several days between
movements). By the way, avoidance of constipation is one of the many
benefits of breastfeeding in infancy, toddlerhood, and beyond.
Assuming that true constipation exists (the child
is uncomfortable and wants to have a movement), here are the best
preventive steps and remedies:
1. Try to avoid laxative preparations, because
they can cause his body to "forget" how to function normally.
The following more natural remedies should allow you to forgo these
2. Encourage him to drink plenty of water. This
will be easiest if he starts with a small amount, increasing a bit each
day. Aim for an eventual amount of several glasses per day. If there is
any doubt about the quality of the water, have it tested.
3. Encourage him to eat plenty of fresh fruits and
raw vegetables. Use fruit for dessert, such as a bowl of orange slices
with strawberries. Fresh fruits and raw vegetables have high water
content and roughage. Pears are known to have a laxative effect, as are
4. Use whole grain breads and bran cereals.
5. Daily exercise is very important, especially
brisk walking or jogging.
6. Licorice and dandelion teas, available in
health food stores, may be given to constipated babies or children.