Home Care Advice for Constipation
- Normal Stools:
Diet for Infants Under 1 Year:
- Once children are on a regular diet (age 1 year), the normal range for stools is 3 per day to 1 every 2 days.
- The every 4 and 5 day kids all have pain with passage and prolonged straining.
- The every 3 day kids usually drift into longer intervals and then develop symptoms.
- Passing a stool should be fun, or at least free of discomfort.
- Any child with discomfort during stool passage or prolonged straining at least needs treatment with dietary changes.
Diet for Children Over 1 Year Old:
- For infants over 1 month old only on breast milk or formula, add fruit juices 1 ounce (30 ml) per month of age per day. Pear or apple juice are OK at any age. (Reason: treating a symptom)
- For infants over 4 months old, also add baby foods with high fiber content twice a day (peas, beans, apricots, prunes, peaches, pears, plums).
- If on finger foods, add cereal and small pieces of fresh fruit.
Stop Toilet Training: Temporarily put your child back in diapers or pull-ups.
- Increase fruit juice (apple, pear, cherry, grape, prune) (note: citrus fruit juices are not helpful).
- Add fruits and vegetables high in fiber content (peas, beans, broccoli, bananas, apricots, peaches, pears, figs, prunes, dates) 3 or more times per day.
- Increase whole grain foods (bran flakes, bran muffins, graham crackers, oatmeal, brown rice, and whole wheat bread. Popcorn can be used if over 4 years old.)
- Limit milk products (milk, ice cream, cheese, yogurt) to 3 servings per day.
Sitting on the Toilet (if toilet trained): Establish a regular bowel pattern by sitting on the toilet for 10 minutes after meals, especially breakfast.
Warm Water for Rectal Pain: Warmth helps many children relax the anal sphincter and release a stool. For prolonged straining, have your child sit in warm water or apply a warm wet cotton ball to the anus. Move it side to side to help relax the anus.
- Reassure him that the poops won't hurt when they come out.
- Praise him for the release of stools.
- Avoid any pressure, punishment or power struggles about holding back poops, sitting on the potty or resistance to training.
Call Your Doctor If:
- Help your baby by holding the knees against the chest to simulate squatting (the natural position for pushing out a stool). It's difficult to have a stool while lying down.
- Gently pumping the lower abdomen may also help.
- Constipation continues after making dietary changes
- Your child becomes worse
And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms.
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Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information. For more information, click here.
Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D. Clinical content review provided by Senior Reviewer and Healthpoint Medical Network.
Last Review Date: 6/1/2011
Last Revised: 8/1/2011 2:54:43 PM
Content Set: Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker
Version Year: 2012
Copyright 1994-2012 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.