Constipation in Children

How often should my child have a bowel movement? — It depends on how old he or she is:

●In the first week of life, most babies have 4 or more bowel movements each day. They are soft or liquid.

●In the first 3 months, some babies have 2 or more bowel movements each day. Others have just 1 each week.

●By age 2, most kids have at least 1 bowel movement each day. They are soft but solid.

●Every child is different. Some have bowel movements after each meal. Others have bowel movements every other day.

How will I know if my child is constipated? — Your child might:

●Have fewer bowel movements than normal

●Have bowel movements that are hard or bigger than normal

●Feel pain when having a bowel movement

●Arch his or her back and cry (if still a baby)

●Avoid going to the bathroom, do a “dance,” or hide when he or she feels a bowel movement coming. This often happens when potty training and when starting school.

●Leak small amounts of bowel movement into the underwear (if he or she is toilet trained)

What if my child gets constipated? — In most children with mild or brief constipation, the problem usually gets better with some simple changes. Have your child:

●Eat more fruit, vegetables, cereal, and other foods with fiber

●Drink some prune juice, apple juice, or pear juice

●Drink at least 32 ounces of water and drinks that aren’t milk each day (for children older than 2 years)

●Avoid milk, yogurt, cheese, and ice cream

●Sit on the toilet for 5 or 10 minutes after meals, if he or she is toilet trained. Offer rewards just for sitting there.

●Stop potty training for a while, if you are working on it

When should I take my child to the doctor or nurse? — You should have your child seen if:

●He or she is younger than 4 months old

●He or she gets constipated often

●You have been trying the steps listed above for 24 hours, but your child has still not had a bowel movement

●There is blood in the bowel movement or on the diaper or underwear

●Your child is in serious pain

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