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Treating Constipation in Children

by Dani Health on October 10, 2011 · 4 comments

Treating Constipation in Children

One of the main ways to prevent and treat constipation is by modifying your child’s diet. This includes decreasing foods that are constipating, including cow’s milk, bananas, yogurt, cheese, cooked carrots and other foods that are low in fiber. For children that drink a lot of milk, soy milk is a good alternative, as it is usually much less constipating than cow’s milk.

Another important dietary change is increasing the amount of fiber in your child’s diet. How much fiber does your child need? The usual recommendation is that children should have 5-6 grams of fiber plus their age in years each day. So a 5 year old should have 10-11 grams of fiber each day.

It can be helpful to learn to read nutrition labels to choose foods that are high in fiber. Fruits and vegetables, especially if they are raw and unpeeled, are good choices. Vegetables that are particularly high in fiber include beans, especially baked, kidney, navy, pinto and lima beans, sweet potatoes, peas, turnip greens and raw tomatoes.

Other foods that are good for children with constipation include vegetable soups (lots of fiber and added fluid), and popcorn. Extra bran can also be helpful, including bran cereals, bran muffins, shredded wheat, graham crackers, and whole wheat bread.

It is also important to increase the amount of fluids that your child is drinking. He should have a minimum of 2-3 glasses of water or fruit juices each day. Apple juice, pear and prune juice, or other juices high in sorbitol, are good choices.

Dietitian Recommendations:

1. Try switching to a different cereal. Nature’s Path Instant oatmeal and/or All-bran Guardian cereal are good choices.
2. Limit dairy to 2 servings/day (1 serving is 1 cup milk, 3/4 cup yogurt, 50g cheese)
3. Increase fruits + vegetables to 5 servings/day (1 serving is 1 fruit, 1/2 cup juice, 1/2 cup vegetables, 1 cup salad)
4. Aim for 4 servings of whole grains (1 servings is 1 piece bread/toast, 1 serving cereal, 1/2 cup rice or pasta, 1/2 bagel, 1/2 pita or tortilla.
5. Drink a minimum of 4 cups (1000ml) water and/or juice each day.

**IMPORTANT** Introduce these changes over 2-3 week period. A large increase in fibre, all at once, will worsen constipation.
This information may not apply to treating constipation in infants and toddlers.

Danielle Van Schaick, BASc, RD
Dani Health & Nutrition Services
www.danihealth.com

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Jayne Embree October 27, 2011 at 1:43 pm

Prune juice has proven to be a great aid for constipation with my child. We also give him prunes occasionally, if he has not had much fiber in his diet that day.

I found, with previous clients who had toileting issues, that there are a lot of other things you can do to help:

-model good eating habits;
-keep up their fluid intake;
-have them sit on the toilet 20 minutes after a meal;

Nana M. October 29, 2011 at 6:18 am

Recommending high fibre, low fat, and a diet that includes soy milk is completely wrong and dangerous. Constipation in children shows that dietary enzymes are out of balance. Lacto-fermented foods – foods that have been consumed for thousands of years (and I don’t mean just high priced, sugary yogurt) are full of natural probiotics. These vegetables, fruits and beverages can simply and quickly be made in your own kitchen and they are proven to be the key to digestive and overall health. Every country on the planet has a tradition of eating some form of lacto-fermented food. In corporate North America we have been brainwashed to feed our families the exact opposite of healthy foods. We’ve become dietary fat-phobics and we have moved so far away from healthy eating that is unbelievable. Please give this free site a look: (http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com). There are articles on why soy is dangerous, why we must soak our grains, why consumption of saturated fat is vital to our health, along with so much more. The host is a Chapter Leader for the Westin A. Price Foundation (a non-profit). There is also a cookbook linked to the foundation – Nourishing Traditions (by Sally Fallon) – it has references to scientific studies that back all the advice.

Angela March 10, 2012 at 11:23 am

This adivce is just as good as any, because you may or may not find something new that you did not know. Lactose(Dairy), i am convinced, is constipating. One glass a day is fine, im sure. The nutrients we are recommended to have that Milk is suposed to provide, can be found in other forms. Except getting a young one to consume it in the other forms, can be a challenge. Enzymes in yogurt are super wicked for our body! use your own descretion towards what you think/feel is best for your child/toddler. If things are not working and your little ones passing of stools is a problem, then yes, consider their diet. Also, when a little one has had problems with this since birth, then it will develope a pychological problem and your little one will simply just not want to “go”.

Gill at Matraea Mercantile October 25, 2012 at 2:13 pm

My eldest child is taking a medicine now that can cause constipation. We have found that cutting back his dairy intake and increasing his water and fruit and veg has helped tremendously. Thanks for the tips!

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