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Fort Worth, Texas,
28
July
2014

My child poops every day

How can he be constipated?

Commonly recommended ways to prevent constipation are to drink water, exercise, and eat fruits, vegetables and fiber-rich foods. Yet even when we use these techniques, our children still sometimes get constipated. From contributing to stomach ache, delayed toilet training, bedwetting, and missed school, constipation is no laughing matter.

“But my child poops every day! My child can’t be constipated!”

Even if your child stools every day, he or she may be constipated. Think about your office desk; you may clear papers off regularly, but if you are not clearing as many papers as are building up, you will soon have a messy desk. Children may poop every day and still not be fully emptying their intestines. When constipation develops, the extra stool causes the intestines to stretch. Once this happens, the intestines may not be able to move as well, which leads to more constipation, and it becomes a vicious cycle. In infants constipation can be particularly hard to recognize because in this age group it is can be normal to have less than one stool per day.  Parents should look for a change in the frequency of stools along with firm stools when considering constipation. 

“What now?”

The good news is that constipation can often be treated with dietary changes. The key to making the treatment stick is continuing it long enough. If you stop too soon, the intestines have not had time to heal, and the constipation returns. As a physician who often sees this condition, I recommend treating constipation for as long as it has been a problem. For example, if constipation has been an ongoing problem for one month, treatment typically lasts at least one month. Treatment also depends on your child’s age.

  • For infants over the age of two months, ask your pediatrician about giving small amounts of prune juice or pear juice.
  • For a toddler, in addition to pear, apple, or prune juice, consider adding high fiber foods such as pears, peaches, and whole-grain cereals to his or her diet.
  • School age children or teenagers can learn about which foods will help improve their symptoms and can then get involved in choosing foods that are fiber-rich and appealing to them.
  • In cases that do not respond to dietary changes or are more severe, your pediatrician may recommend a medication to help treat the problem.

Contact your child’s doctor if you have any questions or concerns about your child and constipation.

About the author

Joyce Rafati, M.D., joined Cook Children's Southwest Clinic in 2013 after moving from Texas Children's Pediatrics in Houston. She believes practicing pediatrics is a privilege and a joy. Dr. Rafati sees the care of a child as a partnership between doctor and family. During your visit, she will take the time needed to listen and discuss the various aspects of your child's growth and development. Her particular interests include sleep, nutrition, newborn and infant care, asthma and allergies, and behavior.

 

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