Constipation can happen to anyone. It can happen to adults as well as to children. Although it is not a serious condition that can send you to the emergency room, it is also something that should not be taken for granted especially when it affects toddlers. As a nurse, I completely understand the importance of regular bowel movement. And since constipation is more common among small children, parents ought to know what to do if their toddler suffers from constipation.
Just like diarrhea in toddlers, toddler constipation may also be hard to detect because there is no such thing as normal bowel movement for them. Your child may pass a stool every other day or only twice a week, while other children may do it more frequently. The frequency of their bowel movement normally depends on their diet and physical activities.
There are signs that your child could have constipation. One obvious sign is bowel movement that is less frequent than its usual schedule. Another sign is when you notice your child having difficulty in passing stool. Lack of activity could also be a sign of constipation. If you notice any of these signs, there are simple things that you could do to soothe your child’s condition.
First is to increase your child’s fiber intake. I also personally recommend doing the same among adults who often have constipation. Foods that are rich in dietary fiber such as leafy vegetables promote bowel movement. At the same time, avoid giving bananas, squash, carrots and other foods that have a binding effect because they could make the stool harder and difficult to pass. Also, encourage your child to drink more water to help keep the stool soft.
Engaging your child in physical activities such as crawling, walking and playing can promote bowel movement. It would also help if you will massage your child’s belly, just below the navel. Using your fingers, apply a firm and gentle pressure around that area for around three minutes. Also, encourage your child to potty as soon the he or she feels that it is almost coming out. If he rarely feels the urge to potty, you could also let him sit down in the toilet for at least five minutes after meals. And make it a pleasant experience by storytelling while he is doing it. That way, he will be able to develop a habit of regular bowel movement.
If your child is still having constipation after trying these remedies, you should give your child a more appropriate treatment. Some doctors recommend over-the-counter medications that can soften the stool, or mineral oil that acts as lubricant when passing out stool. If your child suffers from frequent constipation, laxatives and suppository may also be useful. But as much as possible, resort first to natural home remedies before giving your child any medicine. Oftentimes, you could see the result of natural remedies after several days of applying it and just about the time you are almost giving up.