When you become a parent, you spend more time than you imagined thinking and talking about poop. There are lots of questions around the color, consistency, and frequency of newborn poop.
The topic of bowel movements doesn’t go away once you’re out of the infant stage. Constipation is a common problem for kids. Luckily, it is usually temporary and isn’t a cause for concern. We asked Rhonda Dodge, a pediatrician at UnityPoint Clinic, to weigh in with some information to help parents deal with this uncomfortable situation.
What are the signs and symptoms of constipation?
If your child’s stools are painful, small, hard or inconsistent, Dr. Dodge says your child may be constipated. Complaining of stomach aches is another sign. “Our goal is for children to have a daily soft stool,” Dr. Dodge says. “Think of the consistency of soft-serve ice cream.”
According to Dr. Dodge, children become constipated due to a variety of reasons. Constipation usually becomes more common with toddlers since they can be picky eaters. They may eat fewer foods with fiber, such as fruits and vegetables, and drink less water. Additionally, a diet high in processed foods also can lead to constipation. For school-age kids, a lack of activity can also lead to symptoms.
What can parents do to treat constipation?
You can treat constipation at home. Serve your child more fiber-rich foods (fruits, vegetables, and whole grains) and have them drink more water. Dr. Dodge also suggests having your child on the toilet with their feet on a stool for at least 10 minutes after mealtime 1-2 times each day if they are potty trained. If these attempts aren’t working or you have serious concerns, you can bring your child in to see their provider.
How can parents prevent constipation?
The same ways to treat constipation can also be used to prevent it. According to Dr. Dodge, parents should aim to provide a healthy diet with lots of whole foods and limited processed foods, lots of water (urine should be clear or almost clear), and at least one hour each day of active play.
We know your little ones matter to you! At UnityPoint Health, we’re here to help you keep them feeling their best. We’re here to listen and partner with you. Need a pediatrician? Check out who is welcoming new patients.
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This post is part of a series of sponsored posts by UnityPoint Health Des Moines.