Constipation in children - causes, treatment and right diet for prevention

  • Fitterfly - Team Nutrition

  • Posted On March 05, 2018

Constipation is one ofthe most common battles between every parent, child and pediatrician. With multiple hidden causes, it is indeed a challenge to understand and address on a daily basis.

With the early morning chores, clearing bowels tops the priority in every home. Broadly constipation can be defined as inability to empty bowels over 3 consecutive days. A feeling of bloating, stomach pain, irritability, hard stools, may put the child and parent into pain and discomfort.

Constipation is usually temporary but if not addressed at early stages it can become chronic. The causes of constipation are varied and may be multifactorial. Listed are familiar causes usually seen in children:

  • Inadequate intake
  • Irregular times for eating
  • Faulty dietary habits such as inadequate fluid and fiber intake, use of highly refined and concentrated foods, low residue food.
  • Changes in person’s usual routine brought on by illness, nervous tension or a trip away from home.
  • Chronic use of laxatives.
  • Fatty foods with no veggies or fiber in daily meals.
  • Lack of exercise

The easiest home solution to correct constipation is modifying the child’s daily dietary habits.

Watch for!!!

  • Inadequate fiber intake
  • Intake of refined food products such as breads, pizzas, burgers etc. These foods are easily available and these are also a part of parent’s meals.  So, children can reach out to junk foods very easily.
  • Less vegetable and fruit intake
  • Inadequate meals and fluid intake due to busy schedules of school timings and post school activities.

Water or fluid intake contributes to bowel movements. Inadequate fluid intake can lead to hard stools, which makes it difficult or painful to pass 

Behavioral factors – Children easily get away with excuses as they wish to avoid this time consuming task and try to maximize their playtime or TV time.

What initially starts as voluntary withholding of stools, leads over time to constipation and hard stools. Let us look through some instances:

  • Changes in routine like timings for passing motions or eating food
  • Stressful events
  • Non-availability of toilets (travel etc)
  • Busy school schedule
  • Forceful toilet training (too early)

Is your little one sitting in the right posture? Western toilets Vs. Traditional toilets.

Toilet posture is also one of the contributing factors of constipation. Due to urbanization, we have changed our most of the traditional habits even toilet posture. The traditional Indian method that is squatting position improves the ability to eliminate due to complete relaxation of muscles around the colon. It reduces the chances of bloating, straining, hemorrhoids and constipation.

The modern day toilets are convenient, but they also have one drawback. The sitting posture doesn’t allow relaxation of the muscles and consequently stool movement is hindered or requires application of more force.

Symptoms of constipation

  • Going less than usual for passing motions
  • Difficulty or pain while passing the motions
  • Continuous felling of fullness or bloated
  • Straining
  • Passage of blood while passing motions

Treatment of constipation

Prevention is better than cure. Changing the dietary habits to prevent constipation will always help. Here are the few easy tips which will help us prevent and treat the constipation:

  • Be generous with fluids. Drinking enough water and other liquids is necessary as it helps stools move more easily through the intestines. . A rough guideline is to ensure atleast 70ml per kg of body weight per day in normal weather and upto 100ml per kg for humid/ hot weather. For example 10 kg child should have 700ml to 1 litre free water per day. Along with the water, different forms of liquids should also be added frequently in their diets such as soups, juices, lemon juice, coconut water, buttermilk etc.
  • Offer plenty of fluids but be wary of too much milk; it may have constipating effect in some children. Give whole fruits or raw salads instead of fruit juices
  • Let fiber find way into every meal. Including high-fiber foods (such as fruits, vegetables and whole-grain cereals) in child’s daily intake, can help prevent constipation. Fiber can't be digested, so it helps clean out the intestines by moving the bowels along. A fatty, sugary, or starchy food slows the bowels down. Slowly start increasing the fiber intake in child’s diet and make sure your child also drinks more fluids. Include these foods to improve fiber intake-whole fruits, vegetable salads, fruit salads, multigrain chapattis etc.
  • No compromise in daily physical activity. Enough exercise nudges the bowels into action, so encourage your kids to get plenty of physical activity. Increasing physical activity can be as simple as going out for playing i.e outdoor games, playing catch, riding bicycle or using staircase instead of lifts.
  • Clock your timely meals. Eating is a natural stimulant for the bowels; regular meals will help kids to develop routine bowel habits. We can schedule breakfast a little earlier to give your child a chance for a relaxed visit to the bathroom before school.
  • A habit soon becomes a routine. Many times, child fights the urge to go to the bathroom, let him or her sit on the toilet for at least 10 minutes at about the same time each day.

These small changes in dietary, behavioral habits and lifestyle will help most kids feel better and also get the bowels moving the way they should.  

About Fitterfly:
Fitterfly is a child nutrition and fitness company started by renowned doctors, pediatric nutritionists, fitness experts and technologists. Our team of child dietitians provides all information about constipation in children such as information about foods causing constipation, foods to prevent constipation, diet plans for treatment of constipation and laxative free treatment of constipation. 

To know more download and use ‘Fitterfly’ app from play store or app store or write to us at nutrition@fitterfly.com or just call us at +917045065225

About Fitterfly:

Fitterfly is a wellness company run by doctors, nutritionists and wellness experts with an aim to empower people with knowledge and tools for good health. Our qualified Nutritionists at Fitterfly provide detailed customized guidance according to your child’s age, health condition, cuisine and personal preferences. To know more download and use ‘Fitterfly’ app from play store or app store or write to us at nutrition@fitterfly.com or just call us at +917045065225

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Disclaimer: All information here, including text, images, tables, videos and any other content is for your knowledge only and we do not guarantee any specific result by following these recommendations as it may vary from person to person. The information is not a substitute for qualified medical advice from a doctor or other medical health expert.