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First Aid: Constipation

Reviewed by: Kate M. Cronan, MD

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 get better with the three Fs: fluids, fiber, and fitness.

What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Constipation?

  • 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
  • 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, oatmeal, and whole-grain breakfast cereals or breads.
  • Encourage daily exercise to help your child have regular bowel movements.
  • Talk to your doctor before giving your child any medicine for constipation.

Get Medical Care if Your Child Has:

  • constipation lasting a week
  • liquid stool in the underwear when your child isn't sick
  • severe belly pain
  • vomiting
  • eating less

Think Prevention!

Skip fatty, sugary, or starchy foods, which can slow the bowels down. Choose fiber-rich foods instead.

Reviewed by: Kate M. Cronan, MD
Date reviewed: May 2018