Constipation is not only uncomfortable and unhealthy for kids, but it can also set in motion terrible pooping habits. Even the smallest bout of constipation can mess with potty training invalidating all the time and hard work you have invested in training your tiny human.
What babies eat day to day can play a role in how smoothly their system operates, and when it comes to constipation, it’s fiber-rich foods to the rescue. According to The Department Of Health and Human Services, one out of 20 visits to the pediatrician is due to constipation. Fiber is key here because it makes stool soft and bulky, making it easier to pass through the body. Little kids need 19-25 grams of fiber per day, while older ones need 25-30 grams. Still, most kids only get about 13 grams per day, which is way below the proposed 14 and 31 grams of daily fiber intake as recommended by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Diseases.
The good news is you can always manage toddlers’ constipation at home with natural remedies and lifestyle changes. Read on to learn about the signs and symptoms of this common problem, its causes, and healthy food choices you can offer to help your child feel better.
Signs and symptoms of constipation in toddlers
Most of us know constipation is characterized by infrequent bowel movements and dry hard stool, but the signs and symptoms in children aren’t always identical to those in adults.
Here are some signs and symptoms in toddlers to help you not miss-attribute constipation to something else.
- No bowel movements for several days.
- Hard and dry poop that is very difficult to pass.
- Pain during bowel movements.
- Liquid or clay-like stool in your child’s underwear or diaper. This indicates that stool is backed up in the rectum.
- Traces of blood on the surface of hard stool.
- Cranky behavior.
- Poor appetite.
Causes of constipation in toddlers
Constipation is a widespread phenomenon with children, and a one-off bout shouldn’t be a major cause of concern. But if it is a frequent occurrence and causes considerable physical and social discomfort, you need to pursue potential causes and work towards your child’s healthier digestion.
Below are some of the causes and contributing factors in toddlers’ constipation.
- Limited physical activity.
- Switching from breastfeeding to formula.
- Low/ poor intake of dietary fiber.
- Low fluid intake. Dehydration.
- Medications such as antacids and antidepressants.
- The presence of ADHD disorder.
- Presence of a medical situation affecting the rectum or anus.
- Family history of constipation.
- Introducing solids for the first time.
Healthy foods that help prevent constipation in toddlers
Here is a list with detailed information on the best home remedies and recipes to offer to treat constipation in toddlers and other babies. Some of these foods may be difficult to get into your baby if they are a picky eater, and if that’s the case, don’t lay down the law but rather introduce them in a fun, playful way.
Dry fruits, nuts, and seeds
- Raisins. Raisins and/or dry grapes are a natural source of laxatives that are good for treating constipation. Both black and golden dry grapes are good for treating constipation, depending on availability. For younger babies, you can give dry grapes water which helps to pass stool easily.
- Apricots. Mashed or pureed dried apricots are an old remedy used for constipation relief. You can give it in puree form or simply soak it overnight and offer the juice to your constipated toddler the next morning.
- Flax seeds. Flax seeds are a long-time remedy for constipation as they are rich in dietary fiber. Soak the flax seeds in water, make a paste, and then add to your baby’s food to treat constipation.
- Walnuts. These are the most easily available constipation home treatment remedies as they are rich in soluble fiber and can be given in powdered form or whole to toddlers.
- Dates. Another reliable source of laxatives, dates, are rich in fiber which helps in bowel movements. Mix mashed dates previously soaked in water with milk or water and give to your baby.
- Figs. Rich in fiber content that helps promote bowel movements, figs can be consumed by toddlers in the dried or ripe form mixed with water or milk to treat constipation.
Fluids and juices
- Water/warm water. Water helps rinse the body to get back to working again. Works best when given warm early in the morning. Also, try to offer a sip at regular intervals when your toddler is constipated.
- Pineapple juice. A great remedy for preventing and treating constipation, you can offer pineapple juice to kids in the morning along with breakfast.
- Lemon water. This is the simplest home remedy method known to manage constipation effectively. Mix 1tbsp lemon juice into a glass of water and give your child. This combination acts as natural lubricants and stimulates bowel movements.
- Orange juice. Orange juice is also another home remedy full of fiber that is great for treating constipation.
- Warm milk. Warm milk is great in regulating bowel movements, especially when mixed with a teaspoon of ghee and offered to toddlers before bed. The combination makes it a strong Ayurveda.
- Papaya. Papayas are one of the most ancient remedies for relieving constipation. It works best when taken along with breakfast as puree, mashed, or cut up pieces, but too much papaya can lead to diarrhea.
- Peaches. Peach juice is very useful in preventing and reducing toddler constipation. Peaches can also be offered as mashed, puree, or chopped.
- Plums. Plums are loaded with fiber that helps treat constipation, and the dietary fiber in them helps to water stool.
- Pear. These are another great fruit that helps alleviate toddlers constipation. Make it according to your child’s preference but do not mix it with apples.
- Prunes. Given as puree, juice, or as such, depending on your baby’s preference, prunes are your first friend in relieving toddler constipation.
Vegetables and fruits
- Spinach. Spinach is a great constipation remedy that clears the intestines and regulates bowel movements. Cooked spinach is edible in any form, but spinach soup works best in toddlers.
- Broccoli. Broccoli is an excellent source of soluble fiber, and other than being a perfect finger food, it is also great for relieving constipation.
- Guava. Guava is the richest source of dietary fiber and a natural remedy for constipation. I prefer offering it in the morning along with breakfast in the form of puree, sliced, or mashed, depending on the child’s age.
- Oatmeal. Oats and Oatmeals work greatly to relieve constipation as it has both soluble and insoluble fiber. Cooked oats can be served as porridge or in any other convenient form.
- Barley. Barley porridge or barley water works best for constipation relief.
- Dalia. Best known as Cracked wheat (Amazon link), it contains the outer bran of wheat, which is a wonderful source of dietary fiber that prevents constipation and also helps in easier digestion.
Check out the chart below for other healthy foods rich in fiber and great for your constipated toddler.
|Food per ½ a cup||Fiber (grams)|
|Whole wheat flour||7.2|
|Whole wheat spaghetti||3.2|
|Popcorn (1 cup)||1.2|
|Whole wheat bread||1|
Tips to get rid of constipation at home
As a parent, if you think that your toddlers’ constipation does not necessitate a trip to the doctor, you can try out these at-home remedies to help your little one move stool effortlessly.
- Offer high fiber foods to toddlers at every meal. A diet high in fiber will help your child’s system to always form a soft bulky stool.
- Encourage your toddler to drink more fluids. Fluids, especially water, will help soften your baby’s stool. Amazon has some inexpensive, fun sippy cups to help entice your young one to appreciate water.
- Maintain a potty routine. To avoid missing out on play-time fun, toddlers tend to hold their stool. After their meals, try enforcing a regular schedule for sitting on the toilet, so they have more opportunity to relieve themselves.
- Offer Probiotics. Probiotic supplements and probiotic-rich foods like yogurt can restore a beneficial balance of bacteria in your toddler’s intestines when their digestion is off, which may relieve constipation.
- Keep active. Activities such as rough-and-tumble play, running or jumping, or even pillow fights count as physical activities that can prompt young ones metabolism to move stool through their system, helping to stop constipation in the process.
Foods to avoid during toddler constipation
- Avoid BRAT- Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toasted Bread.
- Avoid foods that contain white flour, white sugar, and any processed food.
- Highly salted foods.
- Fried foods.
- Dairy products.
- Red meat.
Including lots of fiber in your baby’s diet can help them feel better and healthier. If your little one’s constipation is severe or has been going on for a long time, talk to your pediatrician.
He may recommend fiber supplements, laxatives, or stool softeners to help with quick relief on your munchkin and for your peace of mind.