Dealing with the Difficult Cycle of Child Constipation
An incidence of constipation in a child can become a chronic problem rather easily if it is not handled properly from the beginning. If a child passes a hard stool that is painful, he will not want to go through that experience again. Consequently, he may begin to hold his bowel movements in, causing him to become more constipated. The stool will become hard and painful to pass, and the cycle will simply begin repeating itself over and over again. It is important for a parent to gain control of the situation as quickly as possible so that the child will willingly sit on the toilet and the stools will soften and become less painful to pass. This can be done both through diet and behavior modification.
Dietary Changes to treat your Child's Constipation
The first course of action in treating your child's constipation is to modify his diet to include more fiber and cut back on foods that create constipation. High fiber foods include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, especially corn, tomatoes, sweet potatoes and peas. You can also increase the fiber in your child's diet by offering a large selection of whole grain cereals and cereal bars, graham crackers and whole wheat bread. Increase fluids that your child is drinking by offering additional helping of juices and water. Vegetable soup will give your child a double dose of constipation treatment, with a large serving of vegetables as well as an extra serving of fluids.
While you are increasing the fiber intake in your child's diet, cut back on the foods that are known to cause constipation. These can include milk products like yogurt and cheese, and some fruits and vegetables like cooked carrots or bananas. If you are concerned that milk might be contributing to your child's constipation, talk to your doctor before taking your child off of milk entirely. There are many nutrients in milk that a child's growing body needs, and if you decide that he must refrain from milk entirely, he will need to get those nutrients from other foods and supplements.
Behavior Changes to treat your Child's Constipation
Another method for treating constipation in children is behavior modification that gently encourages your child to use the toilet regularly. This can include putting your child on the toilet for ten minutes after meals twice a day, when the bowels are primed for the elimination function. You can also offer reward incentives to your child for successfully going to the bathroom, like offering stickers after using the toilet. To take the fear of hard stools away from your child, your doctor may suggest or prescribe a stool softener that will make it easier for your little one to go to the bathroom without pain.