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Clinical Reference Systems: Pediatric Advisor 10.0
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Constipation - Brief Version

What is constipation?

When your child is constipated, your child may:

  • Have a hard time having a bowel movement (BM).
  • Have a painful BM.
  • Go 3 or more days without a BM.

This could happen because your child:

  • Does not eat enough fiber.
  • Drinks or eats too many milk products.
  • Remembers painful BMs. That can make some children hold back.

How can I take care of my child?

For babies less than 1 year old.

  • If your baby is less than 2 months old, try giving 1 teaspoon of dark Karo syrup twice a day.
  • If your baby is over 2 months old, give fruit juices (such as apple or prune juice) twice a day.
  • If your baby is over 4 months old, you can add strained, high-fiber foods twice a day. Cereals, apricots, prunes, peaches, pears, beans, or peas are good fiber foods.

For children over 1 year old.

  • Feed your child fruits or vegetables at least three times a day.
  • Give more foods rich in bran and fiber. Try bran flakes, bran muffins, shredded wheat, graham crackers, oatmeal, brown rice, or whole wheat bread.
  • Do not feed your child excessive milk products, like milk, ice cream, cheese, and yogurt.

For children who are toilet trained.

  • Have your child sit on the toilet for 10 minutes after meals. This will help your child have a BM every day.

Call your child's doctor right away if:

  • Your child starts to have very bad rectal or stomach pain.

Call your child's doctor during office hours if:

  • Your child has not had a BM after you have fed your child fiber foods and reduced milk products for 3 days.
  • You are using suppositories or enemas for your child.
  • You have other concerns or questions.

Written by B.D. Schmitt, M.D., author of "Your Child's Health," Bantam Books.
Copyright 1999 Clinical Reference Systems