11 Natural Remedies for Children’s Constipation

Long term constipation can be a common problem with children and often occurs when they ignore the urge to visit the toilet. This may happen because they are either busy at play, don’t like ‘to go’ at school or away from home or associate number twos with previous painful experiences. When your child isn’t regular their stool becomes hard, dry and painful to pass and can cause anal fissures where the skin cracks or breaks as well as haemorrhoids. This creates a fearful situation where your child holds on for as long as possible making the next bowel movement another terrifying experience.

If you ignore the urge, the urge goes

Food bubbling away in the large intestine for days or weeks on end is essentially going ‘off’ and less than ideal for the health of the gut wall. This also creates a situation for the hordes of friendly bacteria, where they get outnumbered of bad bacteria causing a condition called dysbiosis. The digestive tract tube will stretch to accommodate the build-up of wastes until it is chock-a-block. To help increase the limited storage area, addition liquid and toxins from the putrefied stool are absorbed through the gut wall, back into the bloodstream where they an cause harm to your child’s overall health and wellbeing. These toxins go on to circulate around the body and can negatively impact any system or organ such as the skin, immune system or brain function.

Your child may still be constipated even if they are pooping every day. For example, poop that resembles ribbon coming out in a thin strip. This type of poop is what we call an overspill, the bowel is so compacted that a passage is created to remove the squishy stuff in the middle. ‘Rabbit poop’ is another type of constipation where small pellets are passed but the majority of stool is compacted and stuck to the gut wall.

Check your child’s poop transient times

Try this easy home test as a general rule of thumb to check your child’s transit time.   Simply add sweet corn or corn on the cob to their meal.  Measure the time it takes between eating the corn and its eventual elimination. 

✅ If less than 12 hours, the contents are moving too quickly which interferes with the absorption of nutrients.

✅ Normal transit time is 12 to 24 hours.

✅ Longer than 24 hours indicates they are constipated or food is moving too slowly.

Remedy’s for Constipation 

1. Stool Softeners

If your child is ‘backed up’ stool softeners can be the best first step.  Their loosening action takes the pain factor out of the equation.  Continue with this approach until you think the backlog has cleared and your child is relaxing around toilet time.  

2. Establish a regular toilet routine

Sit your child on the toilet to begin training their bowel to open at the same time each day.  It’s very important to make this time as enjoyable as possible by staying with them and either reading or chatting.  Nothing may happen in the first few attempts and that’s OK, it’s all about creating a good habit.

3. Hydration

To help everything move along, make sure your child is drinking enough water.  Dehydration is a common cause of constipation and one that is easily fixed.  The human body is 70% water and if you child isn’t drinking enough, the resultant poop becomes dry and hard, hence painful and difficult to pass.  Your child should drink 35mls per kilogram of body weight (1.2 fl.oz of water for every 2 ½ lbs they weigh).

4. Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a safe and effective way to relieve constipation.  If you give your child more than they can absorb, it softens the stools to encourage bowel movements.  

5. Adequate Exercise

These days, kids are often sedentary.  Get them playing outside to keep everything moving. Riding their bike, jumping, running and playing games are all fun outdoor activities.

6. Top 12 foods to relieve constipation

Pears, prunes, figs, beets, papaya, spinach, okra, flaxseeds, rosehips, oatmeal, celery and cultured natural yoghurt are all beneficial.

7. Dietary Fibre

Include more fibre in their diet to bulk up the poop.  Types of food high in dietary fibre include fresh fruit, vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds.  If your child isn’t keen on these foods, blend the vegetables to make either smoothies or popsicles.  

8. Beetroot and carrot Juice

This blend is an excellent natural cure for constipation because it increases gut motility to help poop move along the large intestine. 

9. Massage

Massage your child’s tummy area in a clockwise direction.  Use large circular movements around the outskirts of the tummy reaching up to just under the ribcage to stimulate the large intestine.

10. Posture

With a footstool in place, the feet have a platform to rest on rather than left dangling, consequently the knees are positioned above the hips.  This posture allows for easier passage of the poop from the large intestine.

11. Positive Reinforcement

Remove the fear around poop especially if they are soiling their underwear.  Fill out our Poop Diary at the end of this chapter and keep it light-hearted – maybe add a few stickers and have fun with the different types and names for poop.

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FIONA STOCK | THE CHILDREN’S NATUROPATH

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To make a natural therapies appointment with Fiona Stock, paediatric naturopath in Melbourne, Email hello@thechildrensnaturopath.com to book a consultation at her health and wellness clinic to assist you and your child on the journey to better children’s health.

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