First Aid: Constipation

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First Aid

Constipation is a common problem in which a child may have fewer bowel movements (BMs or poops) than usual. It usually isn't a cause for too much concern.

Constipation can often be remedied and prevented with the three Fs: fluids, fiber, and fitness.

Signs and Symptoms

  • fewer bowel movements than usual
  • straining and pain during bowel movements
  • stool (poop) that's hard, dry
  • larger stools than usual
  • feeling full or bloated
  • abdominal (belly) pain
  • a little blood on the toilet paper after a BM

What to Do

  • Give your child plenty of water or juice. If your baby is constipated, ask the doctor about adding prune, apple, or pear juice to the daily diet.
  • Increase the fiber in your child's diet. Try apples, pears, oranges, beans, popcorn, oatmeal, and whole-grain breakfast cereals or breads.
  • Encourage daily exercise to encourage bowel movements.
  • Talk to your doctor before giving your child any medicine for constipation.

Seek Medical Care

If Your Child Has:

  • constipation lasting a week
  • liquid stool in the underwear when your child isn't sick
  • abdominal (belly) pain
  • vomiting
  • loss of appetite

Think Prevention!

Skip fatty, sugary, or starchy foods, which can slow the bowels down. Choose fiber-rich foods instead and make sure they're washed thoroughly. Also, making sure kids are active every day will help keep their bowels moving, too.

Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: April 2014



Related Resources

OrganizationAAP Pediatric Referral Department Use this website to find a pediatrician in your area or to find general health information for parents from birth through age 21.
OrganizationAmerican Academy of Family Physicians This site, operated by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), provides information on family physicians and health care, a directory of family physicians, and resources on health conditions.
OrganizationNorth American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (NASPGHAN) NASPGHAN works to help children and adolescents with digestive disorders.


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A to Z Symptoms: Abdominal Pain Abdominal pain is common and, most of the time, doesn't have a serious cause.
Constipation Constipation is a very common problem among kids, and it usually occurs because a child's diet doesn't include enough fluids and fiber. In most cases, simple changes can help kids go.




Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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