6 Natural Ways to Relieve Your Child's Constipation

Health & Wellness on 09.24.12
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Natural remedies offer an easy and effective approach to help improve the symptoms of constipation in infants and toddlers.  Once a child has hard and painful stools, she often begins to hold in bowel movements to prevent them from hurting again. This creates an uncomfortable cycle of constipation. Luckily, there are many home remedies you can try without your little one even noticing what you are doing.

1. Increase fluids. Liquids add water to the colon and bulk to the stool, which makes bowel movements softer to pass. Encourage your child to drink more water and if you are nursing, offer breast milk frequently as it has a laxative effect. Increase moist foods too, like soups and smoothies. Make it novel for your child by adding ice cubes to the water or let them drink soup from a cup.

2. Increase the 4 P's. Peaches, plums, prunes, and pears help gets the digestive tract moving again. These are often some of a baby's first solid foods and are often readily eaten by little ones.  I like to cook the fresh fruit in a covered pan with a little water until it has the texture of lumpy applesauce.

3. Decrease constipating foods. The foods most notorious for contributing to constipation are dairy products (cow's milk, yogurt and cheese), sugary foods (like juice and cookies) and bananas. Reduce these until the intestines are moving regularly. Keep an eye on what specific foods seem to trigger your child's constipation and moderate them as needed.

4. Add probiotics. Our intestines are filled with over 500 species of bacteria that keep us healthy and assist in the breakdown of food. Fermented foods like pickles and raw apple cider vinegar are good food sources of probiotics, however they aren't on the list of little kid's favorite foods. Children's probiotics, which I started using when my daughter was one week old, can be added to your child's bottle or cup on a daily basis. Small infants will usually suckle it right off your finger.

5. Epsom salt baths. A few times a day place your child in a warm bath with enough water to cover most of the abdomen. This often works to loosen things up. It tends to relax the body, which is particularly useful with kids who hold stool in. Some kids will allow you to gently massage their belly while they soak in the bath. Adding about 1/2 cup of epsom salts, which contains magnesium and sulfates that are absorbed through the skin, can also help ease constipation.

6. Explore homeopathy. There are numerous homeopathic remedies that can be used to treat constipation depending on the specific symptoms the child is experiencing. They are particularly effective at alleviating the emotional causes of constipation. Picking the wrong remedy doesn't do any harm, it just doesn't help improve the condition.

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