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Constipation

How to relieve your child’s constipation

Is your child finding it hard or even painful to poop? Doing the number two less often than usual? If so, junior might be suffering from constipation. It’s a condition that’s pretty common for toilet-training toddlers and school-going kids alike. Here’s a handy guide to all you need to know about constipation in young children.

Signs and symptoms

Because pooping patterns and frequencies differ from child to child, there’s no hard and fast rule to determine if one is constipated. Here are some signs that can help you decide if there’s cause for concern:

Symptom 1

Difficulty in pooping, or pooping irregularly1

Refusing to go to the toilet2

Refusing to go to the toilet2

Poop stains on your child’s underwear1

Poop stains on your child’s underwear1

Unable to control bowel movements3

Unable to control bowel movements3

Producing unusually solid or lumpy stools3

Producing unusually solid or lumpy stools3

Experiences anal pain and/or has bloody stools1

Experiences anal pain and/or has bloody stools1

Complains of tummy ache or is unable to eat2

Complains of tummy ache or is unable to eat2

Bristol Stool Scale: Identifying your child’s poop

Here’s a useful visual guide to gauge if your child is constipated by looking at his or her poop. Normal faeces that can be passed out easily should look like Types 4 to 6. Types 1 to 3 are hard-to-pass dry lumps that can cause pain.

Type 1: Hard lumps that look like nuts

Physical constipation

Type 1: Hard lumps that look like nuts

Type 2: Sausage-shaped or lumpy stools

Functional constipation

Type 2: Sausage-shaped or lumpy stools

Type 3: Looks like a sausage but with many surface cracks

Functional constipation

Type 3: Looks like a sausage but with many surface cracks

Type 4: Looks like a sausage or snake, and is soft and smooth

Normal Poop

Type 4: Looks like a sausage or snake, and is soft and smooth

Normal Poop

Normal Poop

Type 5: Soft blobs with clear cut edges

Type 6: Fluffy pieces with ragged edges or mushy stool

Normal Poop

Type 6: Fluffy pieces with ragged edges or mushy stool

Type 7: Watery with no solid pieces, or is entirely liquid

Diarrhoea

Type 7: Watery with no solid pieces, or is entirely liquid

Key cause of constipation: Holding back the poop

Some kids dislike being on the toilet bowl. As such, they hold back their stools and over time, this can lead to constipation. Here’s how:

Child refuses to go to the toilet.

Child refuses to go to the toilet.

Buttock muscles are squeezed tightly to hold back the stools.

Buttock muscles are squeezed tightly to hold back the stools.

Faeces is pushed up into the rectum valve.

Faeces is pushed up into the rectum valve.

Stools accumulate, harden and constipation occurs.

Stools accumulate, harden and constipation occurs.

Other causes of constipation

Children can get constipated for a variety of reasons. It’s literally quite hard (pun unintended) to pin it down to just one cause. Here are some possibilities:

Not ready for toilet training or unable to control bowel movements.1

Not ready for toilet training or unable to control bowel movements.1

Taking medication such as cough mixture and diarrhoea medicine that can cause dry stools.1

Taking medication such as cough mixture and diarrhoea medicine that can cause dry stools.1

Feeling emotionally stressed by changes in the family environment1,2, such as having a newborn sibling.

Feeling emotionally stressed by changes in the family environment1,2, such as having a newborn sibling.

Having a disorder that’s related to the colon, rectum or other bodily functions.1

Having a disorder that’s related to the colon, rectum or other bodily functions.1

How to relieve your child’s constipation

The good news is, most children with constipation can find relief easily. For instance, feeding them fibre-rich foods such as fruit and vegetables, making them drink more water to relieve their constipation. Alternatively, you can consider supplementing your child’s diet with formula that supports digestion.

 

Another way is to encourage your child to adopt good toilet habits that can help ease the pooping experience. This includes:

Adopting a comfortable posture for their legs and feet while sitting on the toilet bowl2

Adopting a comfortable posture for their legs and feet while sitting on the toilet bowl2

Taking a deep breath and holding it while straining to poop4

Taking a deep breath and holding it while straining to poop4

When to see a doctor

Your child could be experiencing constipation due to any of the above reasons. The remedy could be as simple as feeding your kid more fruits and vegetables or introducing toilet habits like adopting a comfortable posture. But it’s important to visit your paediatrician advice if your child has any of these symptoms:

Weight loss3

Weight loss3

Finds it difficult to eat1

Finds it difficult to eat1

Vomits regularly3

Vomits regularly3

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