SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center
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First Aid: Constipation

Constipation is a common problem in which a child may have fewer bowel movements (BMs or poops) than usual. It usually isn't a cause for too much concern.

Constipation can often be remedied and prevented with the three Fs: fluids, fiber, and fitness.

Signs and Symptoms

  • fewer bowel movements than usual
  • straining and pain during bowel movements
  • stool (poop) that's hard, dry
  • larger stools than usual
  • feeling full or bloated
  • abdominal (belly) pain
  • a little blood on the toilet paper after a BM

What to Do

  • Give your child plenty of water or juice. If your baby is constipated, ask the doctor about adding prune, apple, or pear juice to the daily diet.
  • Increase the fiber in your child's diet. Try apples, pears, oranges, beans, popcorn, oatmeal, and whole-grain breakfast cereals or breads.
  • Encourage daily exercise to encourage bowel movements.
  • Talk to your doctor before giving your child any medicine for constipation.

Seek Medical Care

If Your Child Has:

  • constipation lasting a week
  • liquid stool in the underwear when your child isn't sick
  • abdominal (belly) pain
  • vomiting
  • loss of appetite

Think Prevention!

Skip fatty, sugary, or starchy foods, which can slow the bowels down. Choose fiber-rich foods instead and make sure they're washed thoroughly. Also, making sure kids are active every day will help keep their bowels moving, too.

Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: April 2014