BACK TOTOP Browse A-ZSearchBrowse A-ZABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ0-9 E-mail FormEmail ResultsName:Email address:Recipients Name:Recipients address:Message: Print-FriendlyBookmarksbookmarks-menuConstipation in infants and childrenIrregularity of bowels; Lack of regular bowel movementsConstipation in infants and children occurs when they have hard stools or have problems passing stools. A child may have pain while passing stools or may be unable to have a bowel movement after straining or pushing. Considerations Constipation is common in children. However, normal bowel movements are different for each child.In the first month, infants tend to have bowel movements about once a day. After that, babies can go a few days or even a week between bowel movements. It's also difficult to pass stools because their abdominal muscles are weak. So babies tend to strain, cry, and get red in the face when they have a bowel movement. This does not mean they are constipated. If bowel movements are soft, then there is likely no problem.Signs of constipation in infants and children may include:Being very fussy and spitting up more often (infants) Difficulty passing stools or seeming uncomfortable Hard, dry stools Pain when having a bowel movement Belly pain and bloating Large, wide stools Blood on the stool or on toilet paper Traces of liquid or stool in a child's underwear (a sign of fecal impaction) Having less than 3 bowel movements a week (children) Moving their body in different positions or clenching their buttocksMake sure your infant or child has a problem before treating constipation:Some children do not have a bowel movement every day. Also, some healthy children always have very soft stools. Other children have firm stools, but are able to pass them without problems. Causes Constipation occurs when the stool remains in the colon for too long. Too much water gets absorbed by the colon, leaving hard, dry stools.Constipation may be caused by:Ignoring the urge to use the toilet Not eating enough fiber FiberFiber is a substance found in plants. Dietary fiber, which is the type of fiber you can eat, is found in fruits, vegetables, and grains. It is an i...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Not drinking enough fluids Switching to solid foods or from breast milk to formula (infants) Changes in situation, such as travel, starting school, or stressful eventsMedical causes of constipation may include:Diseases of the bowel, such as those that affect the bowel muscles or nerves Bowel musclesHirschsprung disease is a blockage of the large intestine. It occurs due to poor muscle movement in the bowel. It is a congenital condition, which ...Read Article Now Book Mark Article Other medical conditions that affect the bowel Use of certain medicinesChildren may ignore the urge to have a bowel movement because:They are not ready for toilet training They are learning to control their bowel movements They have had previous painful bowel movements and want to avoid them They don't want to use a school or public toilet Home Care Lifestyle changes can help your child avoid constipation. These changes can also be used to treat it.For infants:Give your baby extra water or juice during the day in between feedings. Juice can help bring water to the colon. Over 2 months old: Try 2 to 4 ounces (59 to 118 mL) of fruit juice (grape, pear, apple, cherry, or prune) twice a day. Over 4 months old: If the baby has started to eat solid foods, try baby foods with high-fiber content such as peas, beans, apricots, prunes, peaches, pears, plums, and spinach twice a day.For children:Drink plenty of fluids each day. Your child's health care provider can tell you how much. Eat more fruits and vegetables and foods high in fiber, such as whole grains. Avoid certain foods such as cheese, fast food, prepared and processed foods, meat, and ice cream. Stop toilet training if your child becomes constipated. Resume after your child is no longer constipated. Teach older children to use the toilet right after eating a meal.Stool softeners (such as those containing docusate sodium) may help for older children. Bulk laxatives such as psyllium may help add fluid and bulk to the stool. Suppositories or gentle laxatives may help your child have regular bowel movements. Electrolyte solutions like Miralax can also be effective.Some children may need enemas or prescription laxatives. These methods should be used only if fiber, fluids, and stool softeners do not provide enough relief.Do NOT give laxatives or enemas to children without first asking your provider. When to Contact a Medical Professional Call your child's provider right away if:An infant (except those who are only breastfed) goes 3 days without a stool and is vomiting or irritableAlso call your child's provider if:An infant younger than 2 months is constipated Non-breastfeeding infants go 3 days without having a bowel movement (call right away if there is vomiting or irritability) A child is holding back bowel movements to resist toilet training There is blood in the stools What to Expect at Your Office Visit Your child's provider will perform a physical exam. This may include a rectal exam.The provider may ask you questions about your child's diet, symptoms, and bowel habits.The following tests may help find the cause of constipation:Blood tests such as a complete blood count (CBC) Complete blood countA complete blood count (CBC) test measures the following:The number of red blood cells (RBC count)The number of white blood cells (WBC count)The tota...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article X-rays of the abdomenThe provider may recommend the use of stool softeners or laxatives. If stools are impacted, glycerin suppositories or saline enemas may be recommended also.Open ReferencesReferencesKwan KY. Abdominal pain. In: Olympia RP, O'Neill RM, Silvis ML, eds. Urgent Care Medicine Secrets. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 19.Maqbool A, Liacouras CA. Major symptoms and signs of digestive tract disorders. In: Kliegman RM, St. Geme JW, Blum NJ, Shah SS, Tasker RC, Wilson KM, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 332.National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Constipation in children. www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/constipation-children. Updated May 2018. Accessed October 14, 2020.AllVideoImagesTogSources of fiber - illustration The addition of fiber promotes regularity. Vegetables, fresh or dried fruits, and whole grains are excellent sources of fiber. To reap the benefits of fiber, it is very important to drink plenty of fluids.Sources of fiberillustrationDigestive system organs - illustration The digestive system organs in the abdominal cavity include the liver, gallbladder, stomach, small intestine and large intestine.Digestive system organsillustrationSources of fiber - illustration The addition of fiber promotes regularity. Vegetables, fresh or dried fruits, and whole grains are excellent sources of fiber. To reap the benefits of fiber, it is very important to drink plenty of fluids.Sources of fiberillustrationDigestive system organs - illustration The digestive system organs in the abdominal cavity include the liver, gallbladder, stomach, small intestine and large intestine.Digestive system organsillustrationRelated Information Anal fissure(Condition)High-fiber foods(Self-Care)Constipation - what to ask your doctor(Doctor Questions) Review Date: 7/22/2020 Reviewed By: Charles I. Schwartz, MD, FAAP, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, General Pediatrician at PennCare for Kids, Phoenixville, PA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. 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