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Constipation in Children: When to Worry

Constipation in Children: When to Worry

Just like adults, kids can also get constipated. And while most cases of infrequent bowel movements are harmless and can be treated at home, it would still be useful for parents to know when to head to the hospital. Constipation in children when to worry?

The Symptoms of Constipation in Kids

Children experience constipation when they have infrequent bowel movements (fewer than three in a week) or hard, dry stool.

According to Rome 4 Criteria for Functional Constipation in Children, at least two of the following symptoms must be present for at least a month:

  • Less than 2 defecations a week
  • History of excessive stool retention
  • History of painful or hard bowel movements
  • History of large-diameter stools
  • Presence of a large fecal mass in the rectum
  • One episode a week of incontinence in toilet-trained children

However, before you worry about constipation in children, please remember that each has their own bathroom habits.

Very young babies may poop a couple of times a day, depending on whether they have breastmilk or formula milk. At 6 weeks, many breastfed babies may not pass stool daily, but you can still safely say they are not constipated (as long they don’t have a hard and dry stool).

constipation in children when to worry

Some older kids may go more than once a day, but others will only pass stool once every other day. Since the number of bowel movement varies, experts advise parents to watch out for the following signs and symptoms of constipation in children:

  • Fewer-than-usual bowel movements
  • Painful or difficult passage of stool
  • Bloating and abdominal pain
  • Straining during bowel movements
  • Seeing a little blood on the toilet paper or the surface of their stool
  • Pasty or liquid stool in their underwear
  • Persistent vomiting
  • High-grade fever
  • Abdominal tenderness
  • Guarding on the abdominal area
  • Abdominal Distention
  • Jaundice

How to Manage Constipation at Home

Constipation in children when to worry? Are you looking for natural laxatives for children to ease their constipation? If that’s the case, you’ll be happy to know that simple practices encourage bowel movement in kids. They are as follows:

Give them plenty of fluids

The first step is to give them plenty of fluids. The amount of fluids kids need vary depending on their age and weight. As there is constipation, they are advised to have more fluids.

Most school-age children need about 1.5 to 2 L of fluids per day. Older and bigger kids probably need 2 to 3 L of fluids per day.

Continue giving them a high-fiber diet

When you start to worry about constipation in children, think of high-fiber foods and remember that they promote the passage of stool.

Don’t forget to give your child at least 2 servings of fruits daily, especially fruits with skin, such as papaya, prunes, raisins, and plums. At least 3 servings of veggies per day are also crucial. As for carbohydrates, they should have the wholegrain variety whenever possible.

Just a quick reminder: when adding high-fiber foods to your kid’s diet, do so slowly in the span of a few weeks.

Get them moving

Included in the home remedies for constipation is physical activity. Experts say that exercise nudges the bowels into action.

If your child is constipated, encourage them to move. Their exercise doesn’t have to be complicated. Playing outdoors, riding a bike, or kicking a ball here and there will already be good for their health.

Let them have prune juice

Are you looking for natural laxatives for children? Then look no further because reports say prune juice might just work for some kids.

Infants older than 6 months can have 2 to 4 ounces of prune juice per day, while older and bigger kids can probably have more.

In case they don’t like the taste, you can mix prune juice with other fruit juices such as apple and cranberry. You can also freeze it to make ice pops.

constipation in children when to worry

Promote healthy bowel habits

It’s best to take a break from potty training first until constipation stops. But once the condition resolves, you can practice the following measures.

  • Urge the child to sit on the toilet for about 3 to 5 minutes after breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Guide them to do this even if they passed stool moments before.
  • Reinforce good behavior with encouragement or age-appropriate praise and rewards for practices like pooing in the toilet and sitting on the toilet (even if they didn’t poo).
  • Remind and encourage your child to go if they feel the urge.

And, of course, ease their worries and difficulties about using the toilet. Some kids worry about falling or hurting themselves, so you can help them by having a stool to rest their feet on.

A stool also makes it physically more comfortable for them to have bowel movements since they can squat better.

Constipation in Children When to Worry?

In most cases of you shouldn’t worry about constipation in children. But they could also indicate an underlying health condition. For this reason, bring your little one to the doctor if their constipation is accompanied by:

  • Blood in stool
  • Lack of appetite or not eating
  • Weight loss
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Fever
  • Pain during bowel movements
  • Part of the intestine is protruding from their anus
  • Persistent vomiting
  • High-grade fever
  • Abdominal Tenderness
  • Guarding on the abdominal area
  • Abdominal Distention
  • Jaundice

Finally, another sign for when to worry about constipation in children is if it lasts for more than 2 weeks. Be sure to visit their pediatrician if it lasts that long.

Learn more about Digestive Problems in Children here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. Updated Jun 08
Medically reviewed by Ruben Macapinlac, MD, DPPS