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Foods That Help Relieve Constipation in Kids

By Dr. Jessica E Gardner, Tidewater Children’s Associates

Children can experience constipation for many reasons. Fortunately, making a few diet and lifestyle changes can help treat and prevent this common problem.

Constipation occurs when children have problems passing stools or have hard stools. Going to the bathroom may be painful. Sometimes children will be unable to pass stools despite pushing and straining. Symptoms often vary by age.

Signs your child may be constipated:

  • Newborns: Firm stool.
  • Older children: Hard compact stools with three to four days between bowel movements.
  • Any age: Large, hard, and dry stools associated with painful bowel movements.
  • Episodes of abdominal pain that are relieved after a larger bowel movement.
  • Soiling between bowel movements.

A child may become constipated for many reasons such as diet, lack of exercise, emotional issues, an underlying physical problem, or they may simply be too busy. Always talk to your child’s pediatrician first before giving your child a laxative or stool softener.

Remember, children under the age of 1 should never be given honey or any sort of syrup. These products can lead to botulism, a potentially paralyzing disease that may be fatal.

Fiber-Rich Foods that Help Relieve Constipation

Children 1 — 4 years of age

  • Apples (cooked)
  • Applesauce
  • Broccoli (cooked)
  • Bulgur wheat
  • Carrots (cooked)
  • Hummus
  • Kidney Beans
  • Lentils
  • Oatmeal
  • Pears (canned)
  • Peas
  • Raisins
  • Refried Beans
  • Wheat Germ
  • Whole Wheat Bread

Children 4 years old and older

Include all food on the list above but older children may have fruits and vegetables cooked or raw.

  • Almonds
  • Flax Seed
  • Oranges
  • Peanut Butter
  • Popcorn

Over-the-counter fiber gummies may help children 4 and older who are in significant discomfort, but they are not a good long-term substitute for fiber from fresh foods. In addition to eating a diet high in fiber, encourage your child to drink more water and limit drinks with caffeine. Encourage them to be more physically active. Physical activity helps to move bowel contents through the body.

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About CHKD Medical Group

About CHKD Medical  Group Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters has been the region’s most trusted name in pediatric care for more than 50 years. As members of CHKD Health System, our pediatricians work closely with CHKD’s full range of pediatric specialists and surgeons. They also share a commitment to quality, excellence and child-centered care. With 18 practices in 29 locations throughout the region, a CHKD pediatrician is never far.