Adults know how uncomfortable constipation can be. Imagine what it would be like for a toddler to have constipation. Perhaps you don’t even realize that your toddler has constipation. The toddler doesn’t understand what is going on or how to tell mom. So, let’s explore more about what to give a toddler for constipation. Choosing the right foods for toddler constipation is the key to providing relief. Additionally, learn what foods should toddlers avoid when constipated.
Put the fear aside first. It is perfectly normal for your child to experience constipation. Once in a while, it is quite normal. In any case, you should be alarmed if constipation lasts longer than two weeks. It is considered chronic constipation and you should consult a pediatrician.
An infrequent bowel movement that is fewer than three in a week is called constipation. Most toddler constipation can be treated at home and it lasts for only a short period of time. The right food can provide quick relief. Nevertheless, in order to treat, you must be aware of the child’s symptoms of constipation.
Infants who are breastfed or given only fluids rarely experience constipation. Constipation may develop only when they begin eating solid foods.
Constipation Symptoms in Toddlers
On average, toddlers have bowel movements at least once per day. A child who fears pain often tries to hold back their bowel movement. Often times you’ll see them holding on to their buttocks while crossing their legs. Additionally, they make faces as they try to hold the stool.
The following constipation symptoms in toddlers should make you alarmed:
- Having fewer than three bowel movements a week
- Hard, dry, and difficult to pass bowel movements
- Large unusual stools
- Bowel movements that cause pain
- Pain in the stomach and hard feeling in the stomach when touched
- The presence of liquid or pasty stool in your child’s underwear – a sign that stool is backed up in the rectum
- Hard stool with blood on the surface
Causes of Constipation
There are many reasons why children get constipated. The following are the most common causes of constipation in toddlers:
- Diet. One of the main causes of constipation in toddlers could be the diet. Processed food, dairy products, sweets, and low-fiber foods can cause constipation.
- Withholding. It could be caused by pain during bowel movements. Due to large or hard stools. It is natural for them to avoid repeating the uncomfortable experience.
- Changes in daily routine. Routine changes, such as travel, weather changes, sleep, etc.
- Cow’s milk allergy. Cow’s milk may cause allergies in some children.
- Medications. Constipation may occur as a result of certain medications.
- Hereditary. It is possible for children to develop constipation due to hereditary reasons.
- Toilet training. Some children dislike having to train themselves to go to the toilet. The tendency is to hold onto their bowel movements so as to avoid having to use the toilet.
What to Give Toddler for Constipation?
It may be uncomfortable for toddlers to be constipated, but it does not necessarily indicate an underlying health disorder. Anyway, let’s be mothers not bothered by what to give a toddler for constipation anymore. Let’s check out some of the best foods to relieve toddlers from constipation.
1. High Fiber Foods for Toddler Constipation
Fiber-rich foods promote good digestive health. In order to maintain a healthy lifestyle, fiber-rich diets are highly recommended for adults as well. Foods high in fiber relieve constipation. Toddlers are no different.
You need to plan a fiber-rich diet for toddlers based on their age and gender. Every day, they should consume between 14 and 30.8 grams of fiber. For toddlers less than a year old there are no fiber guidelines.
Good sources of fiber are:
- Whole grains: oatmeal, whole wheat bread or pasta or spaghetti, and bran flake cereals
- Legumes: black beans, lentils, soybeans, kidney beans, and chickpeas
- Nuts: peanuts, almonds, and pecans
- Fruits: oranges, apples with the skin, berries, and pears
- Vegetables: broccoli, carrots, green peas, and collard greens
Below are a few examples of foods with high fiber content and their grams weight:
|Food||Grams of Fiber|
|Apple with skin||3.5|
|Pear with skin||4.6|
|Peach with skin||2.1|
|Raspberries (1 cup)||5.1|
|Broccoli (1 stalk)||5.0|
|Carrots (1 cup)||4.6|
|Cauliflower (1 cup)||2.1|
|Kidney Beans (1/2 cup)||7.4|
|Lima Beans (1/2 cup)||2.6|
|Navy Beans (1/2 cup)||3.1|
|Whole Grain – Cooked|
|Whole wheat cereal (1 cup flakes)||3.0|
|Whole wheat bread (1 slice)||1.7|
Slowly introduce toddlers to fiber-rich foods. Don’t increase your fiber intake all at once. It can complicate the situation for the toddler.
High fiber-rich foods for toddler constipation is the Key
2. Plenty of Water
It is very important to drink more water. Constipation can be relieved by drinking water along with fiber-rich food. Drinking water also helps toddlers stay hydrated. Maintaining good hydration is essential for preventing constipation issues, as well as keeping your toddler healthy.
In addition to drinking water, allow them to drink fluids such as fruit juice, vegetable juice, and clear soups. The amount of fluids the toddler should drink will depend on their size, their health, and their activity levels. It is okay for them to drink water in small or medium quantities but throughout the day.
3. Apple Cider Vinegar
As a quick remedy for many ailments, apple cider vinegar has been used for centuries. Parents have also used this for constipation in toddlers. But, there is no scientific evidence that it helps constipation. The fact remains that it is a natural laxative food that appears to be effective for constipation. ACV contains a water-soluble fiber called pectin that promotes digestion. It also contains a tiny amount of magnesium, which supports bowel movements.
Here is a simple recipe that you can try:
- 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons of maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons of cranberry juice
- 2 cups of water
All the ingredients should be mixed together and given to the toddler. Try small quantities to see if there are any improvements. Even though this is considered food, take precautions.
There is insufficient evidence to confirm apple cider vinegar’s safety and effectiveness as a treatment for constipation. It would be a good idea to consult a pediatrician before using ACV to treat constipation.
4. Prune Juice
The phenolic compounds in prune juice and the high sorbitol content help to relieve constipation. The natural laxative properties of these substances prevent constipation.
Pruning juice is safe for toddlers over the age of 1 to drink in small amounts to relieve constipation. For children under one year of age, it is certainly not recommended. Therefore, you should be extra careful when choosing prune juice for constipation.
Prune juice may also cause allergic reactions in some children. Additionally, prune juice’s high sorbitol content may cause abdominal gas and bloat.
Pruning juice for toddlers with constipation is generally safe if they are over 1 year old. As long as they are not allergic to prune juice. Gradually increase the dosage by starting with smaller doses. The dose for constipation should not exceed one cup per day.
5. Olive Oil
Were you surprised to see olive oil on this list of ways to treat constipation in toddlers? Can olive oil be used to treat constipation in toddlers? The answer is NO. The laxative effects of olive oil are only mild.
But olive oil may be used to massage the baby’s abdomen to relieve constipation. Olive oil is an ideal oil for tummy massage for toddler constipation. Using your hands, warm the olive oil and gently massage it over the child’s belly. Massage gently with only light pressure.
Olive oil enemas are effective in treating severe constipation, according to a study in 2021. In conclusion, 75 percent of the children with chronic constipation found relief as a result of olive oil enemas. Yet they warrant further studies in this area.
6. Karo Syrup
Karo syrup is a corn syrup derived from cornstarch. Used to make food sweet and prevent crystallization of sugar.
Karo syrup helps to prevent stool hardening by retaining water in the stool. In accordance with the American Academy of Pediatrics, doctors recommend 1 to 2 teaspoons of Karo syrup per day for babies over 1 year of age.
Karo syrup for constipation in toddlers is effective if used at the correct dosage. In the past, dark corn syrup was used to treat constipation. The dark corn syrup, however, has changed from what it once was. As a result, most people use regular Karo corn syrup. Also, here is what the Karo website says about using the syrup to relieve constipation in infants:
7. Gripe Water
Natural supplements such as gripe water could be helpful for toddler constipation. Gripe water is made from ginger and fennel. Both ginger and fennel seeds are excellent for digestion. Fennel and ginger make the colon more comfortable. Muscles are relaxed, digestion is boosted, and bowel movement is facilitated. Gripe water is believed by many mothers to alleviate stomach pain, vomiting, and constipation.
Having said that, a study in 2015 suggests that gripe water may be associated with increased vomiting and constipation in babies. For this reason, it is very important to consult a pediatrician before giving gripe water to infants.
8. Magnesium Citrate
Magnesium citrate is a laxative that helps in reducing constipation. It is a stool softener for kids. Magnesium citrate relaxes bowels and pulls in water to the intestines. As a result of the water in the intestines, the stool gets softer and bulkier. That allows stool to pass through easily.
Children younger than 2 years of age should not take magnesium citrate. According to the Lexicomp Drug information, the dose shouldn’t exceed 3 oz. Those with conditions like nausea or vomiting, stomachaches, or kidney disease should not use this laxative. Generally safe, but some may experience side effects. Consult your doctor before taking magnesium citrate for constipation.
What Foods to Avoid If Child is Constipated?
You should avoid giving your child foods that could worsen constipation. Make sure foods that lack fiber are not given. Here are a few examples:
- Fast food
- Dairy food (in case dairy allergy can constipation worse)
- Underripe bananas
- Sugar and refined carbohydrates foods such as white bread, pasta, and rice
- processed foods such as hot dogs
- Snack or frozen foods
Other Tips that Help Ease Constipation
- Tummy massage – Relax the abdominal muscles that support the bladder and intestines by massaging them gently. A bowel movement is stimulated by this process.
- Increase level of activity – To stimulate digestion, allow them to exercise or play. It’s important to move the body to prevent constipation and promote bowel movement.
- Chiropractic care. The chiropractor has been successful in treating toddler constipation. Research from 2008 has suggested that chiropractic care is beneficial for pediatric patients with chronic constipation.
Tips to Prevent Constipation
Here are some tips to prevent toddlers, babies, and children from getting constipated:
- Toddlers under 6 months should not be given solid food.
- Maintain a diet high in fiber
- Drink plenty of water every day.
- Be sure your child is engaging in physical activities and not sitting around the house all day.
- Ensure that the child has bowel movements and encourage him to do so.
When to See a Pediatrician
Consult a pediatrician if constipation symptoms last more than two weeks. Furthermore, if your toddler has other symptoms, it may include:
- no appetite to eat
- swelling of abdomen
- experiencing pain while bowel movement
- unusual weight loss
Constipation in toddlers is a normal occurrence and only lasts a short time. Make sure you start with the right foods after understanding the symptoms.
Food with the right amount of fiber and plenty of water is a quick relief for toddler constipation.What to give a toddler for constipation?
The best foods for toddler constipation are fiber-rich foods and drinking plenty of water. The right amount of fiber matters based on the child’s age gender and other condition.
A child’s physical activity is another factor that pays off with quicker results. A natural remedy for constipation with suggested foods which does not work could be a symptom of something else. Therefore, if constipation becomes chronic, you should see your pediatrician.
11 Sources (Citations)
Noble Home Remedies relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations for accuracy and reliability while avoiding tertiary references. Our editorial policy provides more information about how we ensure our content is accurate and up-to-date.
- Constipation – https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/constipation/symptoms-causes/syc-20354253
- Constipation in children – https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/constipation-in-children/symptoms-causes/syc-20354242
- Eating, Diet, & Nutrition for Constipation in Children – https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/constipation-children/eating-diet-nutrition
- Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015-2020 Eighth Edition – https://health.gov/sites/default/files/2019-09/2015-2020_Dietary_Guidelines.pdf
- Constipation in Children – https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/abdominal/Pages/Constipation.aspx
- Authenticating apple cider vinegar’s home remedy claims – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29224370/
- Effect of dietary fiber on constipation: a meta-analysis – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23326148/
- Chemical composition and potential health effects of prunes: a functional food? – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11401245/
- The usefulness of olive oil enema in children with severe chronic constipation – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33812657/
- Infant Constipation – American Academy of Pediatrics – https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/diapers-clothing/Pages/Infant-Constipation.aspx
- Magnesium citrate: Drug information – http://somepomed.org/articulos/contents/mobipreview.htm?14/60/15309
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