As a parent, you may occasionally think back longingly to the “good old days” when you passed your free time relaxing in front of the television, going for that jog around the block, barbecuing with friends… and, well, probably doing anything other than evaluating your child’s stool.
However, parenthood brings with it a natural concern over your child’s health. One question you might be wondering is whether or not your child is showing signs of constipation – and, if so, what are the safest options to get things back on track?
Is My Child Constipated?
Before we talk about safe solutions, let’s first discuss the symptoms and causes of constipation. The first step is to determine what normal bowel habits look like for your child. What is normal for your child may be different from another child.
Some children have bowel movements one to two times per day, while others may go two to three days or longer before passing a normal stool. For instance, if your child is healthy and has normal stools without discomfort or pain, having a bowel movement every three days may be your child’s normal bowel pattern. If your child is having bowel movements less frequently than their normal pattern, it could be constipation.
To establish if your child is constipated, look for stools that are hard, dry, or abnormally large. Other symptoms of constipation include (but are not limited to):
● Straining, or painful bowel movements
● Abdominal pain, such as stomachaches, bloating, cramping, and/or nausea
● Stool accidents and/or soiled underwear
● Reduced appetite
● Cranky behavior
As for why your child has become constipated in the first place, well, there are a variety of possible causes. Some causes include anxiety over big life changes like starting with a new school or new diet. Your child may also feel pressured to hold in their stool rather than risk getting in trouble for having an accident. Another common cause of constipation is a diet that does not include enough fiber, or that contains foods that can cause constipation.
At-Home Relief for Constipation in Kids
Once you’ve identified that your child is struggling with constipation, it is time to take action to help them get things moving again! Start by creating a predictable bathroom routine that includes trying to poop first thing in the morning, about half an hour after a meal, and right before bedtime at a minimum. Create a safe and calming bathroom environment that includes fun distractions (like a book, toy, or coloring book), and refraining from scolding them for any accidents.
Along with these lifestyle changes, you might also consider increasing your child’s fiber and water intake. However, always make sure to talk to a doctor first about how much fiber is right for your child.
Finally, you can encourage your child to move their body around to relax any blockages. This can be done through exercise, fun activities outside (like playing tag or sports), and/or gently massaging their stomach.
Safety of Laxatives for Children
If at-home remedies aren’t enough, it may be time to consider laxative products. But with so many choices available, how does a parent decide which constipation relief is best for their child?
As with all health conditions, it’s always important to consult a doctor or paediatrician to get a more informed summary of your child’s particular situation and the choices available for your child’s age. It’s important to know the ingredients found in each type of laxative and get a sense of the potential side effects so, along with your child’s doctor, you can make an informed choice about which type of laxative is right for your child.
Laxatives are broken down into the following general categories[R1] :
● Stool Softeners: may contain the ingredients docusate sodium or docusate calcium, and work by drawing water into the bowel from surrounding body tissues, replicating a standard bowel stimulus and softening the stool. Because stool softeners increase the amount of moisture in the stool, they allow for a more comfortable bowel movement that should not require straining. Stool softeners are considered mild with few side effects.
● Osmotic Laxatives: may contain polyethylene glycol or glycerin, and work by increasing the amount of water in the intestines to allow easier passage of stool. They are generally considered a safe choice for children as well.
● Stimulant Laxatives: may contain bisacodyl or sennosides. These work by stimulating the rectal muscles, activating them to push stool out. Stimulant laxatives can have unpleasant side effects like bloating, stomach pain, and skin irritation, and are generally not the first option to relieve constipation in children.
● Lubricant Laxatives: contain mineral oil, andwork by coating stool in a lubricant, making it slippery and more comfortable to pass. Lubricants can cause respiratory difficulties if accidentally inhaled, and because they are not digestible they can cause rectal leaking and skin irritation. Due to these potential side effects, lubricant laxatives are not typically the first choice for constipation relief in kids.
No matter what, though, always consult with your child’s pediatrician before giving your child any laxative product. When discussing options for safe laxative products, consider asking your child’s doctor about DocuSol® Kids,
DocuSol® Kids Can Help!
DocuSol® Kids is a first-of-its-kind, mini enema with a non-irritating formula that functions as a stool-softening, hyperosmotic laxative by drawing water into the bowel from surrounding body tissues, replicating a normal bowel movement. This unique formulation provides children ages 2–12 fast, predictable relief of constipation within 2 – 15 minutes.
[R1]Overall, I suggest removing the ingredients and side effects and sticking with the descriptions of activity exactly as shown on the Doc Kids webpage – – or How it Works from Healthline source.