What causes constipation? The answer to that question can be a long list! Constipation in kids can be caused by a number of different things. Sometimes the foods our children eat causes constipation, sometimes it’s the type of foods or drinks they don’t take in, sometimes it’s inactivity, rarely is the cause a medical problem. Constipation is defined as hard, infrequent stooling. The stools may be large & hard or small, hard balls. Some kids have a stool every day but the stool is a small hard ball. This also is constipation even though they have a bowel movement daily. What causes constipation for one person may not for another.
What constipation is NOT:
- an infant who grunts & turns red-faced and then has a soft stool,
- a breastfed infant who has a large, soft or loose stool once per week and is wetting heavy diapers with feedings and is content,
- a child who has a soft stool every third day and is eating well, acting normally–these are all normal conditions. If abdominal pain comes with fever, vomiting, loss of weight, blood in the stool, or if your child is refusing to or afraid of having a bowel movement, then see your child’s health care provider.
“Tummy aches” are a pretty common problem for kids and their parents. Abdominal pain caused by constipation can have a variety of qualities. It can be very uncomfortable where a child is doubled over and crying, sporadic or constant pressure, or described as a dull cramp. Some children will experience urinary incontinence (urine leaking) with the constipation. Some kids with have a decrease in appetite. Constipation and it’s associated problems can lead to missed school days and a decrease in participation in childhood activities.
There are many things a parent can do to help prevent typical constipation symptoms. Making sure there’s enough fiber in your child’s diet is the first important step to take. Typically your child’s age + 6 equals the amount of fiber your child needs per day up to a maximum of about 25 grams. Foods high in fiber include whole grain cereals and breads, fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts.
|High Fiber Food||Amount to Eat||Grams of Fiber|
|apple with skin||1 medium||8|
|pear with skin||1 medium||5|
|banana ripe||1 medium||3|
|air popped popcorn||1 cup||1.2|
|cooked oatmeal||1/2 cup||2|
|cooked brown rice||1/2 cup||2|
|bran flakes||1 cup||6|
|whole wheat bread||1 slice||2|
|cooked black beans||1/2 cup||7.5|
|almonds||1 ounce (23 nuts)||3.5|
|sunflower seeds||1/4 cup||4|
|cooked corn||1/2 cup||2|
|baked potato with skin||1 medium||3|
|cooked broccoli||1/2 cup||2.5|
|cooked peas||1/2 cup||4.5|
|raw baby carrots||1/2 cup||3|
Another step to take is to be sure your child is hydrated well. The large intestine is where stool is transported from the small intestine to the rectum where the stool is eliminated from the body. During this transport in the large intestine, fluids are reabsorbed back into the body. The longer the stool stays in the large intestine, the more fluid that’s pulled from the stool and the dryer and harder the stool becomes. The more fluid in the stool, the less chance for constipation.
One easy way to know if your child is drinking enough is to look at how concentrated her urine is. If your child’s urine is dark yellow and cloudy instead of clear and light yellow or colorless, then your child needs to drink more.
What causes constipation? Some foods that can-
For some children, drinking a lot of milk or eating a lot of cheese can be a cause of constipation. If your child is having problems with constipation and does eat a lot of cheese or drinks a lot of milk, try decreasing these two items in his diet for about 2 weeks and see what happens. A simple food elimination or decrease can fix the problem.
A diet high in processed foods can lead to constipation problems. If your child eats mainly “enriched” cereals, breads, and pastas then this can lead to constipation. If many of your child’s meals come from boxes or cartons then these processed foods can lead to constipation. Lets look at a typical day for many children — Breakfast sugary cereal with milk or a donut with orange juice Lunch is school pizza or french fries and a corn dog with a sports drink. After school snack is some chips or cheese flavored crackers. Dinner is macaroni and cheese from a box, chicken nuggets and a dinner roll. This type of diet is not unusual for many children and leads to malnourishment and can be the cause of constipation.
Food Remedy for Constipation
Fruit Paste Recipe
1/2 pound prunes
1/2 pound raisins-pitted
1/2 pound figs
2 oz senna tea
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice
Prepare tea using about 1 1/2 cups boiled water. Steep 5 minutes. Strain tea to remove tea leaves and add only 1 cup if tea to a large pot, then add fruit. Boil fruit and tea for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add sugar & lemon juice. Allow to cool. Use mixer or food processor to blend fruit mixture into smooth paste. Place in plastic container and place in freezer. Remove what you need each day, paste doesn’t freeze solid.
Dose: 1-2 tablespoons per day. Spread it on toast, eat off a spoon or add hot water and make a drink.
What causes constipation can be a different answer for every person suffering from it. Sometimes following a vegan diet can be very helpful to remedy what causes constipation.