Constipation refers to infrequent and hard bowel movements. A child is said to be constipated when he faces difficulty in the passage of stool. Constipation is a common problem among children, and is usually a temporary condition. A majority of children face constipation due to poor diet, insufficient water intake, lack of physical activity and poor toilet training.
If constipation is not treated in the initial stages, it may become a more complicated problem going forward. While severe constipation can be treated only by medication, the mild cases can be cured effectively using simple home remedies.
Remedies For Constipation in Children
Include More Fibre in Your Child’s Diet
Food is one of the most important determinants of a healthy bowel system. A change in diet is sometimes the only necessity to treat constipation in children. A high-fibre diet helps to soften faecal waste and eases elimination. High fibre foods include fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grain. Dried fruits like apricots, prunes and figs are also high sources of fibre. Guavas, pears and oranges are considered to help in reducing constipation.
Among vegetables, spinach and beans are the best foods that can be given to reduce constipation. While including fibre in your child’s diet is the best way to fight constipation, do not over-do it. Increase fibre content gradually, supplemented with lots of fluids.
Increase Your Child’s Water Intake
Increasing intake of water is a panacea for many diseases for both adults and children. In the case of constipation in children, consuming sufficient water helps in loosening stools. Encourage your child to have adequate water between meals, especially during the hot months of the year.
Include other Fluids in Your Child’s Diet, in Addition to Water
Drinking plenty of fluids is an important factor in reducing constipation in children. Encourage your child to drink apple juice, grape juice, mixed fruit juice and prune juice with water. Ginger tea and a glass of warm milk before bed also helps in reducing constipation.
Caffeine results in worsening constipation. It has been opined by many that too much of cow’s milk creates constipation. Soya milk is a better option, which is equally nutritious, but less constipating.
Increase Your Child’s Physical Activity
Physical activity helps in digestion and also helps in the movement of digested food through the intestines. Regular activity is essential to prevent as well as cure constipation in children. Encourage your child to engage in walking, running, cycling and swimming regularly.
Plan a Routine for Your Child
Help your child in developing a routine in visiting the toilet. It is important in maintaining consistency in the time at which your child has his bowel movements. This helps his body to adjust to the routine and reduces constipation over a period of time.
Teach Your Child to Relax
When children are too busy with their schedules or are under stress, constipation sets in. It is important to teach children deep breathing exercises and yoga. Children usually fear the pain during bowel movements and tend to hold their bowels. This worsens constipation. Talk to your child on the importance of regular bowels.
Another relaxation technique which aids in relaxing muscles and reducing constipation is to give a gentle belly massage. Rub the belly between the belly button and lower by lightly pressing your fingertips in circular motion.
Having a glass of warm water with half a lime and half teaspoon of salt helps in preventing constipation. Having a teaspoon of honey with water helps in relieving constipation pains. Letting your child relax in a warm bath for about 15 minutes also helps in easing bowel movement. Sometimes, pressing a warm, moist cloth on the anus also helps in bowel movement.
While the above remedies work in the long run, it should be remembered that continuous constipation can be a sign of a serious problem. A paediatrician needs to be consulted if the child suffers from constant or frequent constipation.