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Common Pediatric Problems - Constipation

Updated: May 12, 2021

Constipation is a very common struggle for kids, especially during toilet training and early school age, so it’s safe to say that we talk about it with families ALL of the time. Here are some thoughts and tips when addressing constipation:

- It is important for kids to have at least 3 ‘unhurried’ times on the toilet each day, such as after meals when our bowels are triggered to start moving. Other great times to sit on the potty include first thing in the morning and before bedtime.

- Posture matters, so when your child sits on the toilet, be sure to have them sitting upright and their feet firmly on the floor or on a stool.

- Hydration is key to helping encourage bowel movements, so make sure that your child is drinking enough fluids throughout the day.

- In young patients experiencing constipation, we will sometimes recommend 2-4oz of dilute fruit juices, such as Pear, Apple, or Prune Juice mixed 50%/50% with water.

- Other foods that help with constipation include fruits with the hard ‘P’ sound. These foods include aPPles, Prunes, Pears, graPes, dried aPricots, to name a few. It may be silly, but you can remember this by thinking that fruits with the hard ‘P’ sound help with Poops!

- If hydration, fruits, and juices don’t quite cut it, then we may consider medication such as Miralax (Polyethylene Glycol), Lactulose, Mineral Oil or an enema or rectal suppository. If you have questions about dosing or scheduling, speak to your pharmacist or your doctor.

Often we are trying to not only teach your child to not be scared of bowel movements, but also re-train your child’s intestines to respond correctly to food moving through their GI system. This takes time, so our goal is for patients to have up to 6 months of pain-free and accident-free bowel movements before discontinuing medications or strategies. Relapses are common, so do not be discouraged if there are some periods where we are still struggling. Of course, if you have questions, please do not hesitate to call your physician.

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