Constipation in children

Harmless but very bothersome, constipation can eventually irritate the intestinal lining and cause several health problems. 

Symptoms such as headaches, skin problems, difficulty concentrating and irritability are common.

Regardless of age, the child must have at least one bowel movement each day. The only exception concerns the breastfed baby who can have a bowel movement every two to four days without any problems. Because breast milk has a great power of assimilation, it produces less waste.

Bowel movements every 2-3 days or more are a sign of poor elimination. It is also possible to have bowel movements every day and still suffer from constipation. If the stool is hard and dry and if the elimination requires an effort, it is also a case of constipation. Furthermore, the speed of the bowel movement is important to control. Waste should leave our body as stools about 24 hours after being digested. Little test: ask your child to eat spinach during a meal and you should see green stools appear 16 to 24 hours later.

Our diet remains one of the main causes of constipation. However, stress, the transition from breast milk to bottle milk, potty training, a change in habits such as the beginning of school or the lack of physical activity are all factors that can affect a healthy elimination.

Food intolerances like gluten and dairy products can irritate the intestines and cause tension and spasms that can inhibit peristalsis.

It is important to teach our children the importance of good bowel at a very young age. Because the intestine is more active in the morning, between 5 and 7, make sure that your child wakes up early enough when he goes to school so he will have enough time to go to the toilet.     

The most important tip to relieve constipation is to drink water

Ideally, the water should be consumed at room temperature to avoid shocking the body. Choose quality water, preferably filtered or the least mineralized.

To know the amount of water necessary according to your child’s size: divide his weight (in pounds) by two and you will the ounces of water that he should drink daily. For example, your child weighs 40 pounds he should drink 20 ounces of water every day, divided in five small glasses of four ounces each.

A few tips to make your child drink more water:

  • Give him a glass of water at sunrise and a glass before each meal.
  • Buy a new and fun water bottle for kids.
  • Always bring his bottle of water with you and offer him often.
  • Prepare the quantity he should drink during the day in advance.
  • Throw in a dash of lemon, lime or orange to make it tastier.
  • Don’t forget to set an example and to drink water too!
About his nutrition

Many foods promote elimination

  • Prunes or figs. Soak prunes or figs overnight. You can also make a spread and put it on his toasts in the morning, it is delicious!
  • Figs syrup is also effective and tastes very good.
  • Fresh pears, beets, grapes, apricots.
  • Ground flaxseed and flaxseed oil. Add seeds and oil to oatmeal, unsweetened apple sauce, yogurt or morning cereals…

Give him freshly squeezed carrot juice (or buy Biotta) when he comes back from daycare or from school. Carrots help the production of bile, which may be idle during constipation.

Beware of constipating foods like bananas, cheese, rice, carobs and cooked carrots… Don’t forget to reduce his portions of cheese as it hardens the stools.

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