What to do if your child gets constipation

What to do if your child gets constipation

Your child may have more than one bowel movement each day or a bowel movement every other day. Either is normal, as long as the stool is soft or formed.

If your child has hard, dry stools or goes more than three days without a bowel movement, they may be constipated. If this happens:

  • Give your child more water or 100 percent fruit juices to drink. Good juice choices are apple, pear, cherry, grape or prune.
  • Give your child more fiber. Fiber is the part of the plant that is not totally digested. It adds bulk to the stool, which makes the stool move through the digestive system faster than normal. Good sources of fiber include:
    • cereals: bran, whole wheat flakes, shredded wheat, oatmeal or granola
    • brans and crackers: whole wheat bread, dark rye bread, corn bread, graham crackers, bran muffins, Ry-Krisp® or Triscuits®
    • fruits and vegetables: all fruits and all vegetables (especially peas, beans, corn, broccoli, apricots, peaches, pears, figs, prunes and dates). Leave skins on fruits and vegetables because they are a great source of fiber.
    • beans and nuts: baked beans, peas, corn, peanuts, peanut butter and potatoes
  • Limit rice, cooked carrots, cheese, gelatin products, milk and dairy products until the constipation is gone.

Teach your child not to wait to have a bowel movement. To create a regular bowel habit, ask your child to sit on the toilet for a few minutes after a meal or snack. Try to do this at the same time each day.

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education, Guide for the Care of Children: Ages Birth to 5, sixth edition, ped-ah-91554
First Published: 02/01/2010
Last Reviewed: 11/16/2022