NHS

Constipation

Easy to treat

Constipation is a very common problem in children. Many children normally pass stools as far apart as every few days. Regardless, you should treat hard stools that are difficult to pass and those that happen only every three days as constipation.

Breastfed infants will generally have more stools per day. Their stools vary more in frequency when compared to bottle-fed infants. For example, breastfed infants produce anywhere from 5 to 40 bowel movements per week whereas formula-fed infants have 5 to 28 bowel movements per week. Switching the type of milk or formula can also cause constipation.

Many things contribute to constipation but infants and children who get well-balanced meals typically are not constipated.

Ask your Health Visitor if a laxative might help. If it doesn’t solve the problem, talk to your GP. In rare cases constipation in children and babies can be due to an underlying illness so if the problem doesn’t go away in a few days it’s important to talk to your GP.

Health Visitor says

To avoid constipation and help stop it coming back make sure your child has a balanced diet including plenty of fibre such as fruit, vegetables, baked beans and wholegrain breakfast cereals. We do not recommend unprocessed bran (an ingredient in some foods), which can cause bloating, flatulence (wind) and reduce the absorption of micronutrients. Drink plenty of fluids.

If a bottle fed baby becomes constipated you can try offering water between feeds (never dilute baby milk). If the problem doesn’t go away, talk to your Health Visitor or GP again.

1

Does my child have a balanced diet?

2

If your child is constipated, they may find it painful to go to the toilet.

3

Ask your Health Visitor or Pharmacist whether a suitable laxative may help.

Source: NICE guidelines 2009, constipation in children.

Download Word document