Download Word document

Constipation

Common and easy to treat

Constipation means passing hard poos, with difficulty and less often than normal. Babies can have a poo several times a day or once every few days. Babies often appear to strain and go red in the face when having a poo - this is normal. In children, having a poo anything from 3 times a day to once every other day can be normal so long as the poos are soft and easily passed. Sometimes bad constipation can cause a child to dirty their pants.

It is not always clear why children become constipated but it is important to get it treated because if a child is constipated they may find it painful to go to the toilet. This creates a vicious circle; the more it hurts, the more they hold back, the more constipated they get. Once a child is really constipated they may stop wanting to go to the toilet altogether. Ask your Health Visitor if a stool softener might help. If it doesn’t solve the problem, 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.

One

Has you child stopped wanting to go to the toilet altogether?

Two

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

Three

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

Source: NICE guidelines 2009, Constipation in children.