publication date: Jul 16, 2021
author/source: Dr Nisa Aslam
It can be hard to help a young child with constipation, sometimes because you aren’t sure that’s what it is. Your baby may be suffering from a variety of symptoms including pain, irritability, sweating and poor appetite. If you think your baby has constipation, you may feel guilty thinking there’s something you could have done to prevent it, or worse still, powerless thinking there is not much you can do.
It’s important to recognise constipation early so it can be treated immediately. According to The Bristol Stool Scale a bowel movement should occur in the form of a soft, easily passable poop at least four times a week.
How to recognise constipation
According to research from Docusol Paediatric, the evidence backed constipation solution from the life sciences healthcare company, Typharm, parents find it hard to know how to recognise and manage symptoms of constipation in their young children. Recognising constipation means looking carefully at your child’s poop. If it’s smooth and soft and shaped like a sausage and your baby is passing it easily at least four times a week, he or she is unlikely to be constipated. If the poop is sausage shaped and looks like corn on the cob or a bunch of grapes or your child is passing hard lumps like rabbit droppings and the poop is difficult to pass, he or she is likely to be constipated.
Your child may cry when trying to poo, have a bloated or painful tummy, a poor appetite, be irritable or angry, or they may want to avoid pooing at all because it’s painful.
How to treat constipation
- Consult your pharmacist. Describe your child’s symptoms. Your pharmacist will be able to advise if something more serious is a possibility and will refer you to your GP.
- Over the counter remedies are available but not all are available for over the counter sale in young children.
- Docusol Paediatric is one of very few products that can be taken by mouth and is available over the counter at pharmacies for the management of constipation in infants and children from the age of six months. Docusol Paediatric liquid contains docusate which is a stool softener. In other words, it moistens the stool. It has a gentle action working by increasing the amount of water the stool absorbs in the gut, making the stool softer and easier to pass. It is also convenient, easy for the child to take, plus it is sugar free and strawberry flavoured. And it can be mixed with drinks – water, juice, milk – essential for little ones. Available from independent pharmacies and Chemist4U.
- Although it’s sometimes hard to get your child to eat fruit and vegetables, aim to increase their fibre intake from these foods and depending on your child’s age, you can give them wholemeal bread, baked beans and wholegrain cereals – but not bran, as this can cause bloating and wind.
- Also ensure little ones drink enough: 600ml daily in a baby of seven to 12 months old; 900ml daily in a child of one to three years and 1200ml daily in a child of four to eight years.
- Good toilet routines are vital. It’s time consuming for a busy parent but pays dividends for your child’s bowel health and your mind.