Constipation in children:

by Dr Khadijatou Aboulmaali M. Sid Ahmed on October 25, 2018

How often should my child have a bowel movement?

It depends on how old he or she is:

  • In the first week of life, most babies have 4 or more bowel movements each day. They are soft or liquid.
  • In the first 3 months, breastfed infants have about 3 soft bowel movements per day. Some breastfed infants have a bowel movement after each feeding, whereas others have only one bowel movement per week. Infants who breastfeed are rarely constipated.
  • Most formula-fed infants have two to three bowel movements per day, although this depends on which formula is given. Some soy and cow’s milk-based formulas cause harder bowel movements
  • By age 2, most kids have at least 1 bowel movement each day. They are soft but solid.
  • Every child is different. Some have bowel movements after each meal. Others have bowel movements every other day.

How will I know if my child is constipated?

Your child might:

  • Have fewer bowel movements than normal
  • Have bowel movements that are hard or bigger than normal
  • Feel pain when having a bowel movement
  • Arch his or her back and cry (if still a baby)
  • Avoid going to the bathroom, do a “dance,” or hide when he or she feels a bowel movement coming. This often happens when potty training and when starting school.
  • Leak small amounts of bowel movement into the underwear (if he or she is toilet trained)

Why constipation develops?

  • Transition to solid diet from breast milk or formula to solid foods.
  • Toilet training as child may try to avoid going to the bathroom (called withholding).Children who have experienced a hard or painful bowel movement are even more likely to withhold.
  • School entry as some children are reluctant to use the bathroom at school because it is unfamiliar or too “public,” and this can lead to withholding.

What if my child gets constipated?

In most children with mild or brief constipation, the problem usually gets better with some simple changes. Have your child

  • Eat more fruit, vegetables, cereal, and other foods with fiber
  • Drink some prune juice, apple juice, or pear juice
  • Drink at least 32 ounces of water and drinks that aren’t milk each day (for children older than 2 years)
  • Avoid milk, yogurt, cheese, and ice cream
  • Sit on the toilet for 5 or 10 minutes after meals, if he or she is toilet trained. Offer rewards just for sitting there.
  • Stop potty training for a while, if you are working on it

When should I take my child to the doctor ?

You should have your child seen if:

  • He or she is younger than 4 months old
  • He or she gets constipated often
  • You have been trying the steps listed above for 24 hours, but your child has still not had a bowel movement
  • There is blood in the bowel movement or on the diaper or underwear
  • Your child is in serious pain

If you have concerns that your child is having constipation, please visityour child’s pediatrician to discuss risk factors and ways to achieve a normal bowel habit

If you would like to talk, feel free to reach out to us. An LifeWorks therapist would be able to help.

Corina Saramet
Corina Saramet
Psychologist - English,Romanian,Spanish
Master Degree in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Bucharest, Romania
Nashwa Tantawy
Nashwa Tantawy
Psychologist - Arabic, English
M.A. in Counseling Psychology from The American University in Cairo
Jyotika Aggarwal
Jyotika Aggarwal
Clinical Psychologist - English
M.A.(Clinical Psychology), RE-CBT - Experience: 7 Years
Sailaja Menon
Sailaja Menon
Counseling Psychologist - English
CAGS (Multicultural Counseling), Johns Hopkins University, USA - Experience: 25 Years
Salma Mahmoud
Salma Mahmoud
Psychologist - Arabic and English
Master's in Psychology, BA Psychology - Experience: 12 Years
Iva Vukusic
Iva Vukusic
Clinical Psychologist - English, Croatian and German
Master of Psychology, Training of Trainers (ToT) Community
Dr.Marwa Abd El Hamid
Dr.Marwa Abd El Hamid
Clinical Psychologist - Arabic and English
Ph.D. in Psychology Ain-Shams University - Experience: 16 Years
Dr. Sravani Behara
Dr. Sravani Behara
Specialist Psychiatrist - English, Hindi and Telugu
MBBS, MD - Experience: 12 Years
Dr.Bassem Badr
Dr.Bassem Badr
Consultant Psychiatrist,Holistic Approach - Arabic and English
Master of Science in Neuropsychiatry - Experience: 25 Years

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