Did you know that children are considered constipated when they have fewer than three bowel movements weekly? Ugh. But, really, constipation also includes problems passing stool and the size. Yes, since constipation is listed among the top 10 reasons for visiting the pediatrician, it’s analyzed often. (1)
By this standard, constipation is a very common problem in children. (2)
But what causes constipation?
Doctors have linked a variety of factors to constipation in children. The most common issue leading to constipation is diet – namely, a lack of water and fiber. (2)
Kids who eat processed foods, cheese, and white bread are also more likely to suffer from constipation. Unfortunately, a poor diet leads to nutrient deficiencies. Medications used to treat iron deficiency are also linked to constipation in children
The good news is that constipation is not normally an indicator of a more serious issue. Once you’ve checked with your doctor to rule out any other ailment, such as irritable bowel syndrome, consider the following natural remedies.
1. Dietary Changes
Before you try anything else, make sure your child’s diet is free of the foods mentioned above, especially dairy and processed foods.
Other foods to watch out for include (4):
- Unripe bananas
- Fried foods
If your child is constipated, then ensure their diet includes these foods (5):
- Frozen peas
What do these foods have in common? They’re high in fiber, which is an easy fix for constipation. (6)
2. Magnesium Supplements
Magnesium acts as a laxative, which will of course help your child pass stool much more easily. (7)
If you’d prefer to give your child naturally-occurring magnesium as opposed to supplements, give him or her plenty of the following:
- Whole grains
- Mineral water
As a bonus, magnesium is also an effective natural treatment for ADHD, anxiety, and insomnia.
3. Fish Oil Supplements
Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish oil, plays a large role in your child’s digestion (not to mention brain health!). (8)
But many kids hate the taste of fish, which can make it tricky to get them to eat enough Omega-3 fatty acids.
No problem – you can get them fish oil supplements instead. Follow the instructions of whatever supplement you buy. Typically, your child will be required to take one to two supplements daily.
Exercises for constipation involve training the stomach muscles, which will help the intestines function better, producing smoother bowel movements. (9)
One exercise is known as the flutter kick.
First, get your child to lie on their stomach and pedal with their legs as if they were swimming.
If your child is completely opposed to that method (it does look a bit funny, after all), don’t worry. Studies have also shown that 20 to 30 minutes of running, walking or swimming can help relieve your child’s constipation. (10)
5. A Warm Bath
A warm bath can help reduce the discomfort and cramping that constipation causes. Simply fill your bathtub with hot or warm water and let your child lay in this for a long soak. (11)
This method is suitable for children 1 month and older.
Adult supervision is a must for small children in the bathtub.