Constipation is very common in kids. How frequently a child has a bowel movement depends on their age and diet. For instance, breastfed infants tend to have more bowel movements than formula-fed infants. When a child is constipated, they could have less bowel movements than normal or they could have large, hard bowel movements that are difficult or painful to pass. A common cause of constipation in children is withholding, which means they are trying not to have a bowel movement because it would be painful to pass. This only worsens the cycle. Children also commonly become constipated if they are in a new location where they do not feel comfortable stooling, such as a new school. If your child is older than 4 months, you can try treating the constipation with fruit juice and high-fiber foods like fruits and vegetables. Also make sure your child is drinking enough fluid for their age. (For children over 1 year old, this is 32 oz per day.)
Come to the doctor's office if…
- There is blood in your child's stool.
- Your child is also having severe abdominal pain or rectal pain.
- Your child is vomiting or has a swollen belly.
- You've tried giving high-fiber foods and fruit juice, but your child is still constipated.
- Your infant less than four months old is having fewer than 3 bowel movements per week.