A small child in a green shirt and blue pants holding their stomach in pain.


Home remedies for constipation in kids

  • Pediatricians are frequently asked about kids and constipation.
  • Diet can counter constipation for most people.

It's one of the most common topics parents ask about, “How do I get things moving when my kid is constipated?” The good news is that most times, there isn’t a serious medical issue. To find relief in the bathroom, you may have to make some changes in the kitchen.

When is constipation a concern?

  • Fewer than one soft stool every day, consistently
  • Hard, dry or difficult-to-pass stool that may look like rabbit pellets
  • Pain while trying to go or stomach aches
  • Traces of blood on toilet paper

Which foods can get things flowing again?

  • Whole foods: Stick to natural foods that grow, like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and nuts. Foods that are ultra-processed with added fat, sugar, salt, preservatives and more typically remove the fiber. Avoid foods with long lists of ingredients.
  • Fiber: It comes from plants. The goal is to eat your age plus at least 10 additional grams of fiber a day, up to 25 grams per day. For example, if your little one is 5 years old, they should eat 15 grams of fiber each day. Tip: Garbanzo and lentil bean pastas are rich in fiber and protein. Add pureed veggies into red pasta sauce, pureed black beans to brownies or white chia seeds to foods like pancakes, waffles or muffins. Juice removes the fiber, so whole fruit is always better.
  • Oil: It’s slippery and helps the stool move along. Extra virgin olive oil is great for cooking and health. Tip: Make “poop chocolates.” Call them whatever you’d like; just melt and mix ½ cup of coconut oil and ½ cup of dark chocolate chips. Add them to molds and let them cool. I don’t recommend adding sugar to diets, so sub out this trick with a treat your child would already be having.
  • Magnesium: Magnesium draws water into the stool and relaxes the intestinal muscles. Magnesium-rich foods include avocados, spinach, nuts, seeds, black beans, dark chocolate and other whole foods. Try putting 1-2 cups of Epsom salts in a bath. If things still aren’t moving, ask your child’s provider about oral magnesium citrate or hydroxide.
  • Vitamin C: I recommend adding colorful fruits and vegetables. If you need more support, you can ask your provider about a supplement.
  • Water: Take half your weight in pounds and drink that in ounces. For example, if your child weighs 60 pounds, have them drink 30 ounces per day. And don’t forget a glass of water with breakfast.

What can I do outside of the kitchen?

  • Get out and play: To get things moving on the potty, your child needs to move their body. Sitting in front of the TV doesn’t help the process, but going for a walk, bike ride, dancing or just playing outside can help. Aim for at least 1 hour of joyful movement every day.
  • Massage: A gentle clockwise abdominal massage can sometimes usher things along.
  • Environment: A step stool under the toilet can help children relax so their feet aren’t dangling.
  • Routine: Let them look at a book or give already allotted screen time only on the toilet if nature is taking too long to call. I realize some may shudder at the lack of sanitation, but desperate times may call for desperate measures.

If home remedies don’t relieve constipation, contact your primary care provider. Your primary care provider and possibly a gastroenterologist or integrative and functional medicine provider can support your child’s specific needs.


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