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Constipation in Children

By Lucy Kerrison


Constipation can be very common in childhood, often affecting children when they are being potty trained. This can be troublesome for all, so it’s often best to tackle symptoms when they first appear!

What is constipation?

There are many different symptoms of constipation, which may include the following:

  • Irregular bowel movements with less than 3 per week
  • Small, hard pellet-like stools
  • Hard and large poo which can sometimes cause bleeding
  • Pain during bowel movement or having to strain

How common is constipation in children?

We can see symptoms of constipation quite often throughout childhood, affecting 5-30% of all children.

What causes symptoms of constipation?

  • Reduced intake of fibre including fruits and vegetables
  • Reduced fluid intake
  • Stress or anxiety
  • Occasionally related to delayed (non-IgE mediated) allergy

Unfortunately discomfort or pain when pooing may exacerbate symptoms further so trying to reduce these as soon as noted may help.

How can we minimise symptoms of constipation?

Encourage daily activity:

It is recommended that all toddlers and children under 5 years  have 180 minutes of activity per day. This may include vigorous activity, but also activities like walking, tummy time and active play like hide and seek.

Regular fluid as a drink including between meals:

Aim to give water or milk only to encourage good dental health.

Encourage a varied diet:

Try aiming for 30 different plants per week – think of gut health ?

Normalise pooing:

It may help to read books about toilet training with your little one, let them watch you and encourage the “perfect poop position”.

A final note

Should constipation symptoms persist in your child, it would always be advised to speak with your GP or health care professional who may be able to review your little one’s symptoms and action an appropriate plan for your family.

If you have any questions regarding the above, or would like to discuss your child’s diet, please book here for an initial appointment with myself or one of our expert team.

Lucy Kerrison is a gut specialist dietitian who is passionate about dietary manipulation to reduce debilitating gut symptoms such as reflux, bloating, diarrhoea, constipation and pain. Lucy understands the stresses and hectic nature of modern-day life and provides a holistic approach, which is flexible and fun.

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