Constipation in Children

It is common to find constipation in children, possibly to the extent that nearly ten percent of children have the condition at any one given time. Constipation is a term that is used to describe the passing of hard stools, or bowel movements that are not frequent enough. The definition of this condition is dependent upon how often the child usually passes bowel movements, and their normal consistency. Some children pass stools normally only once every two or three days.

Children and infants who are constipated are not treated like adults are, because their bowel movement patterns may not yet be established. Most children who get constipated don’t have a disease that causes the constipation. In rare cases, some disorder may cause children and infants to have more than minor problems with bowel movements.

Many other things can possibly add to the condition of constipation. The most often seen reason in an 18 month or older child is actually avoiding the toilet, for several reasons. They may be involved in play, and not want to take the time for proper toileting. At school, children may worry that the bathrooms aren’t clean, or about having too little privacy. Newborn constipation can be addressed by gentle massaging of the stomach in a circular pattern or giving extra liquids, either water or fruit juice. In fact, if you had constipation when pregnant you may be able to apply some of the same non-medication methods of relief.

Children may have previously had a frightening or painful experience that causes them to wish to avoid the toilet. Their brain may learn to ignore even repeated urges to use the bathroom, by their colon. As long as the stool remains unmoved within the colon, it will pull water from the stool, which makes it dry and hard. This stool will be even more painful or difficult to pass, which results in the child holding it in.

When you change a child’s diet, it may affect his bowel habits. Diets high in fiber don’t work as well in children as they do in adults. Children and infants who eat meals that are well-balanced are normally not constipated.