Children who have constipation are difficult to poop, and the poop is hard and sluggish. It is also common to get stomach upset. Often it will be better if the child drinks more and eats high fiber foods, but sometimes drugs that soften the poo may be needed.
How often child poop varies from child to child and depends on what the child has eaten. The fact that a child does not poop so often becomes a problem only when the child is feeling ill.
- 1 Symptoms
- 2 When should I seek care?
- 3 Common causes of constipation
- 4 What can I do for myself?
- 4.1 Massage the stomach
- 4.2 Replace breast milk replacement
- 4.3 Give fruit puree
- 4.4 Increase flavor portions slowly
- 4.5 Give more fluid to drink
- 4.6 Provide fiber rich and soluble foods
- 4.7 Give less of stuffing food
- 4.8 Encourage the child to move
- 4.9 Try to get regular habits
- 4.10 Have the child squat or support the feet
- 4.11 Create peace and quiet in the toilet
- 4.12 Look over the child’s existence
- 4.13 Continue with the procedures
- 5 Treatment
- 6 What is constipation?
- 7 What happens in the body?
- 8 Investigations and investigations
A constipation is when you poop less than three times a week. This applies to both children and adults.
Children may have one or more of the following symptoms when constipated:
- The buoy is hard and sluggish.
- The child has difficulty in pooping.
- It hurts to poop, and the child can therefore become sad or not want to poop.
- The baby’s stomach is stretched.
- The child has a stomach ache and therefore may not want to eat.
The hard buoy can cause the child to have small cracks around the rectum. The cracks can bleed and leave blood traces on the pouch or on the toilet paper. That it hurts can also make the child not want to poop.
The hard pus in the rectum can irritate the mucosa of the rectum. This can cause the child to get mucus in the pouch.
The child may also need to urinate more often, or may urinate. This is because the hard poop presses the bladder.
Children who only eat breast milk are very rarely constipated.
Can get loose poop in the underwear
If the child has been constipated for more than a week, there may be loose poop in the underwear. It is then common to think that the child has diarrhea instead of constipation. But it is loose poop that runs past the hard lump of poop found in the rectum.
Sometimes, healthcare professionals use the word stool incontinence when children get poop in their underwear.
When should I seek care?
If a child has one or more of the following symptoms, contact a child care center, pediatric clinic or health care center.
- The child eats only breast milk and poohs small hard balls.
- The child has had trouble pooping for a week or more.
- The child has recurring problems with constipation.
- The child has alternating constipation and diarrhea.
- The child is sad because it hurts when they are to poop.
- The child has stomach pain at the same time as constipation.
- The child has difficulty bouncing and does not gain weight.
- The pouch contains blood.
You can seek care at any healthcare center you want throughout the country.
Seek care immediately
Seek immediate medical care, regardless of time of day, if the child has difficulty bumping and has one or more of the following symptoms:
- The baby has a lot of stomach ache.
- The child is cold sweated and has a tense stomach.
- The child vomits.
- The child has blood and mucus in the pouch and does not feel well.
Seek care at a health center or on-call reception. If this is not possible, seek medical attention at an emergency room.
You can always ask at a child care center or health center if you are thinking about your child’s eating or toilet habits. You can also always call and get medical advice on phone 911.
Common causes of constipation
That a child gets constipation can depend on various things. Often the constipation is caused by the child’s routines and eating habits. Many children may also experience temporary constipation with constipation in connection with any type of conversion:
- It is common for children under one year to get constipation when they start eating more and more regular food, from having previously eaten breast milk or breast milk replacement. Breast milk replacement is also called breast milk replacement.
- The child may become constipated when they stop using diapers and start going to the toilet or pot.
- Many children suffer from constipation when they start at preschool or school.
Food and drink affect the stomach
The baby may become hard in the stomach if they eat too little fiber or too much stuffing food, or drink too little. But high-fiber foods can also cause the child to become constipated if they do not drink enough.
Resist poop need
When the child is around two years old, the child can learn to resist the signals that indicate that they are needy. The child can then decide for himself whether to pounce.
Many times the pooping becomes private, and children like to be in a safe and used environment when they poop. Therefore, they may refrain from barking if they are at someone else’s home, at preschool or school. Children can also avoid pooping if they are away. If the child is not allowed to poop it can lead to the child avoiding pooping, despite wanting to.
Sometimes the child can be so busy and inside their play that the child resists the reflex to poop, because they do not want to stop playing. If this happens often, it can cause the child to have constipation problems.
Ulcers in the rectum
Hard poop can sometimes cause small wounds or cracks in the rectum opening that hurt when pooping. The child may have had such wounds before and will remember the pain. Therefore, the child, consciously or unconsciously, may not hesitate to be scared because they are afraid that it will hurt.
Too little movement
Children who sit still a lot can get constipation. This also applies if the child has slept a lot in a bed, for example if they have been ill.
Worry and stress
Sometimes constipation can be a symptom of the child feeling stress or worry. For example, it may be in connection with a relocation, that a related person is ill or that it is uneasy and messy in the preschool or school.
Sometimes constipation can be a symptom of a disease:
- food allergy to the protein gluten, called gluten intolerance or celiac disease
- food allergy to cow’s milk protein
- hypothyroidism, which means that the child has too low metabolism
- invagination, a form of bowel obstruction when the child also has a lot of pain
- Hirschsprung’s disease, a very unusual and congenital disease that causes severe constipation.
Do not change your child’s diet yourself if you think constipation is due to food allergy, but seek care at a pediatric emergency room or health center.
It is common for children with developmental disabilities to have constipation. This may be due to the developmental disorder, that the gastrointestinal tract reflexes do not work properly, that the child drinks a little and has difficulty eating, or that the child is not so physically active.
What can I do for myself?
What you can do depends to some extent on the child’s age and what the child eats. Often, the constipation goes away by itself after a few days, but sometimes it can take longer.
Massage the stomach
Children who eat both breast milk and breast milk replacement can sometimes get constipated. If you notice that the child is trying to poop without anything happening, you can remove the diaper and gently massage the baby’s stomach clockwise. Stop massaging if you notice that your child doesn’t like it.
Replace breast milk replacement
If your child is eating breast milk replacement, you may want to try replacing one or more targets with another manufacturer of breast milk replacement. Talk to a nurse at the childcare center, they can give advice on what replacements make the pooch softer.
Give fruit puree
If the child is six months or older you can give a little puree of prunes, figs or pears. You can make your own or buy ready-made fruit purees at the grocery store. There are also beverages of prunes or pears you can give.
Increase flavor portions slowly
Children who start eating food from just eating breast milk or breast milk replacement can get constipation if they get too large portions of taste. If your child becomes constipated when you start giving flavor portions, you can reduce the portions to gradually increase them again.
Give more fluid to drink
Try to make sure the child drinks enough fluid, and that there is fluid to drink when they are thirsty. Choose water and not sweet drinks.
Provide fiber rich and soluble foods
If your child eats regular food, you can give your child soluble and high fiber foods:
- vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, beans and peas
- fruit, especially prunes, figs, apricots and pears
- whole grain products such as whole grain pasta
- grain bread
- coarse grits like oats and wheat bran
Use whole grain products in cooking. For example, you can use whole grain flour in pancakes and in bread if you bake yourself. You can also mix in different coarse grains or seeds in muesli.
Keep in mind that the child needs to drink more when eating high-fiber foods. The baby can get stomach ache, gases in the stomach and more constipation if they eat more fiber without drinking enough. This is especially true if the child is under six. But too much fiber can also cause diarrhea.
Give less of stuffing food
Reduce the amount of stuffed foods if you know your baby eats a lot of them. Examples of foods that have a stopping effect are:
- food with a lot of white flour, like pasta, light bread and pancakes
- white rice
You can read more about food for children in the articles Baby food up to one year and Baby food 1-6 years. There is also more information about food for children on the American Food Agency’s website:
- Food for children under one year
- Food for children between one and two years
- Food for children over two years
Encourage the child to move
Try to get the child to be physically active. Moving the body helps the intestines to work and makes it easier to poop. Children who are six years and older are recommended to be physically active for at least one hour in total per day.
Try to get regular habits
It is good if the child is allowed to sit down in peace in the toilet or pot every day, preferably at about the same time. Then the child can eventually get into a regular habit and it becomes easier to poop. If the baby uses a diaper, you can remove the diaper before putting the baby on the pot or in the toilet.
Often, a reflex will buoy after a meal. Sometimes the reflex comes during the meal itself. You can encourage the child to try to poop then, but don’t moan. Choose the meal when you have plenty of time and do not need stress.
Have the child squat or support the feet
It is easier to poop if the child can take support with his feet. If your baby is using diapers, for example, you can try to get them to squat. Children sitting in the toilet may need a footstool to support their feet.
Sometimes children who use diapers can get up when they are pooping. The child gets more difficult to poop properly when standing up, and it can therefore cause the child to become constipated. The constipation can decrease when the child starts using the potty or go to the toilet.
Create peace and quiet in the toilet
Some children just want to poop in an environment they feel safe in. If you notice that your child, for example, just wants to poop at home, you can try to give it the opportunity, so that the child can get poop in peace and quiet.
If the child thinks it is difficult or difficult to bump into preschool or school, you can talk to the staff about it, and try to find solutions. For example, it may be that the child can go to a toilet where it is a little calmer. Be sure to ask the child if it is good that you talk to the staff. If the child wants, they can join in and talk.
When you are not at home, you can accompany the child to the toilet to provide security. It can be, for example, if you are distant or at home with others. If your baby is using a diaper, you can go away for a while together to a place where it is calmer.
Look over the child’s existence
Try to find out if something in your child’s life can cause constipation, such as stress. Then investigate if there is anything you can do about the situation.
Continue with the procedures
Continue with the routines and give the child fiber rich food and liquid when the child can poop again. Although the constipation has let go, the child can remember how hurt it did, and can therefore consciously or unconsciously refrain from barking. It can cause constipation to return.
The child may need medication if it does not help change the habits or if the child has had constipation problems for a long time. Most often it is so-called emollient, which attracts water to the poop. It makes the pooch softer and the bowel can work better.
Pure laxatives should be used with caution and used only on prescription. There are non-prescription medicines for constipation that you can buy at pharmacies. Ask for advice at the health care center, childcare center or pharmacy before using any medicine for constipation.
Sometimes the child may need to use drugs for a year or more. If your child needs to use medicines for an extended period of time, the treatment should always be done in consultation with a doctor at the pediatric clinic or at the health center.
If the child has pain and cracks in the rectum opening, there is a stunning ointment. You lubricate the rectum before the baby should poop. Ask the staff at a pharmacy.
Solvents that soften the poo
There are medicines that the child can eat and that give softer poop. It can be good if the child does not want to eat high fiber foods. But before giving such a medicine, you should ask for advice at the child care center or at a health center.
Do not stop using this medicine prematurely. Although the poop has become soft and it is possible to poop, the child can remember how bad it did, and therefore avoid poop. Then the constipation can come back.
There are various so-called microlavings or minilavans. Ask at a pharmacy. You can use these enema if the baby has a hard lump in the rectum that needs to be dissolved. The effect comes after five to twenty minutes.
Sometimes the constipation can be so troublesome that the bowel needs to be cleared with a larger enema at a pediatric clinic or a medical center.
Never attempt to resolve a constipation yourself by inserting, for example, a fever thermometer into the child’s rectum. You can then damage the rectum. This is especially true for children under one year.
For some children, it may take more than a year for the body to adjust, and for the child to forget how bad it was to poop. If the child feels a great fear of pooping due to the pain, the child may need to receive call support from staff at a pediatric clinic. Parents can also receive support so that they can then support the child.
What is constipation?
Constipation is when the baby is pooping less often than three times a week, and that the poop is then hard and difficult to get.
Pooh in children receiving breast milk or breast milk replacement
Children who only eat breast milk poisons a lot and rarely get constipation. They may poop several times a day, once a week, or sometimes every other week. But even though it can take a long time between times, it is not constipation, but when the baby is pooping, the poop is loose and comes in large quantities.
Many children usually groan and take hold when pooping. Sometimes the child can be sad and dissatisfied just before, without constipation.
The pee in children who only receive breast milk is soft as ointment, or loose with firmer parts in it that may resemble melon kernels. The color is yellow, sometimes greenish. It smells a little sour.
Children who receive breast milk replacement, or both breast milk and breast milk replacement, usually poop every or every other day. The pouch is usually firmer than in children who only receive breast milk. Sometimes children who receive breast milk replacement may be constipated.
Pie in children who eat regular food
When children begin to eat foods other than breast milk and breast milk replacement, the consistency and appearance of the poo changes. It is more and more similar to the poop of an adult. When the child is around three years of age, they usually poop one to three times a day.
What happens in the body?
A constipation begins with the intestinal contents being transported too slowly through the large intestine to the rectum. The intestinal contents consist of processed food residues and bacteria.
In the large intestine, the intestinal mucosa absorbs the last of the water from the intestinal contents. As things get slower, the colon can absorb more water. The intestinal contents then become dry and hard. When it comes to the rectum, it collects in a hard lump that hurts to poop out.
When the rectum is full, it sends a signal to the brain, and the child feels needy. But if the child avoids pooping because it hurts, this reflex disappears and more hard poop accumulates in the rectum, and it becomes even more difficult for the child to poop.
Investigations and investigations
The child may need to be examined to find out what constipation is due to. You and the child are first told about the problems, what the child eats and how often the child is pooping. Then the doctor does a body examination. The child is also measured and weighed, to see how the child grows.
Sometimes the doctor needs to examine the baby’s rectum with a finger, to see if there is hard poop that stops in the rectum. The examination can help the doctor decide which treatment is best. The child may also need to have blood tests.
The child’s right to understand
There is no age limit when a child is allowed to participate in a care situation. The child’s right to decide for himself depends on the child’s maturity. The older the child, the more important it is for them to be involved in their care.
In order to be active and make decisions, it is important that you understand the information you receive from the healthcare staff. Ask questions if you don’t understand. You can also ask to have the information printed to read it peacefully.
You may have the right to get help from an interpreter if you do not speak English. You also have the right to receive interpreting assistance in case of hearing loss.