Constipation is a very common problem among kids, but many parents are confused about what constipation really is. A child is considered constipated when he or she has fewer than three bowel movements in a week; has difficulty having a bowel movement; or when the stools are hard, dry, and unusually large. A child who doesn't have a bowel movement every day isn't necessarily constipated. Here is a diagram of types of stool.
Constipation: Stool types 1 and 2
Normal Stools: Stool types 3 and 4
Loose/Diarrhea Stools: Stool types 5,6, and 7
Most of the time, constipation is due to a diet that doesn't include enough water and dietary fiber. Here are some things that you can do if your child is constipated.
•Give your child more fluids. Drinking enough water and other liquids helps stools move more easily through the intestines. Most school-age children need 3 to 4 glasses of water each day. If your infant is constipated during the transition from breast milk or into solid foods, try serving just a few ounces of prune juice each day.
•Serve more fiber. Foods that are high in fiber, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain bread, can help prevent constipation. Fiber can't be digested, so it helps clean out the intestines by moving the bowels along. Fiber doesn't have to be a turn-off for kids: Try apples, oatmeal, oranges, bananas, baked potatoes, and popcorn.
•Make sure kids get enough exercise. Physical activity helps the bowels move, so encourage your kids to get plenty of exercise.
•Develop a regular meal schedule. Eating is a natural stimulant for the bowels, regular meals may help kids develop routine bowel habits.
•Get kids into the habit of going at the same time each day to set a routine. Have your child sit on the toilet for at least 10 minutes at about the same time each day, preferably after a meal.
Even if you do all of the right things, some kids will still have problems with constipation. If you have questions about your child, call the office at (281)292-0999.
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