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Constipation, Age 11 and Younger (cont.)

Prevention

Diet

A nonconstipating diet is the best way to prevent constipation. If constipation develops, a nonconstipating diet will help restore normal bowel movements.

For babies younger than 12 months:

  • Breast-feed your baby. Constipation is rare in breast-fed babies.
  • Make sure you are adding the correct amount of water to your baby's formula.
  • For babies ages 6 to 12 months, give an extra 2 fl oz (60 mL) of water twice a day. Instead of water, you can add 2 fl oz (60 mL) to 4 fl oz (120 mL) of fruit juice, such as grape, pear, apple, or cherry juice, twice a day.
  • Make sure to add only one new food at a time, and watch for signs of an allergic reaction or food intolerance.

For children age 12 months and older:

  • Make sure your child is drinking enough fluids. When the weather gets hot or when your child is getting more exercise, make sure he or she is drinking more fluid.
  • Add high-fiber foods.
    • Add at least 2 servings of fruit—such as apricots, peaches, pears, raisins, figs, prunes, dates, and other dried fruits—each day.
    • Add at least 3 servings of vegetables—such as cooked dried beans or peas (legumes), broccoli, or cauliflower—each day.
    • Children older than 4 years may be offered unbuttered, unsalted popcorn as a snack. To avoid choking, do not offer popcorn to children who are younger than 4.
  • Increase whole-grain foods, such as bran flakes, bran muffins, graham crackers, oatmeal, brown rice, and whole wheat bread. Offer your child whole wheat bread instead of white bread.
  • Make sure your child is not eating or drinking too many servings of dairy products. At age 1, a child needs 4 servings a day. Dairy products such as milk, ice cream, cheese, or yogurt can cause constipation when a child has too many servings in one day. One serving size of a dairy product is:
    • ¾ cup (6 oz) of milk.
    • 1 oz of cheese.
  • Set a good example for your child by drinking plenty of fluids and eating a high-fiber diet.

Toilet training

Constipation sometimes becomes a problem when children start toilet training:

  • Encourage your child to go when he or she feels the urge. The bowels send signals when a stool needs to pass. If your child ignores the signal, the urge will go away, and the stool will eventually become dry and difficult to pass.
  • Set aside relaxing times for having bowel movements. Urges usually occur sometime after meals. Establishing a daily routine for bowel movements, such as after breakfast, may help.
  • Make sure your child has good foot support while he or she is on the toilet. This will help flex your child's hips and place the pelvis in a more normal "squatting" position for having a bowel movement.
  • Make sure your child gets plenty of exercise throughout the day. Set a good example for your child by following healthy routines of eating, exercising, and going to the toilet.

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

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