Does your child have a bowel movement at least once a day? If not, they are suffering from constipation.
The poop on poop
Many parents report their children don’t have regular bowel movements, sometimes even going 4 days to a week without defecating. The problem is that excrement is a waste product that needs to be removed from the body. The longer the toxins remain in the body, the more illness they can potentially cause.
In addition, the bowel is many feet long and needs to stay healthy in order to perform its function, that of excreting solid waste. The bowel has motility, that is, movement. It undulates to help push the fecal matter along the large intestine until it eventually reaches the rectum and passes out of the body through the anus. If feces sits in the colon for days, getting harder and harder, it can damage bowel motility, sometimes permanently.
So what is a parent to do?
Laxatives and enemas are not the answer
Dosing your child with stool softeners and laxatives is not the solution-they have side effects and can impair normal bowel function.
Enemas try to stimulate the colon and flush out the stool, but inserting anything in your child’s anus and rectum can pose certain risks and people can also become dependent on them.
A high soluble fiber diet
A high fiber diet can include oatmeal and raisin bran. Fresh fruit and vegetables can also keep the bowels moving regularly. A couple of prunes a day or some prune juice can help. Make smoothies with one or more servings of fruit and even vegetables if your child is a picky eater.
Nuts and seeds are also high in fiber, so they can be added to your child’s diet if they are not allergic. Flax seed can help too, and has the added advantage of containing Omega-3 fatty acids, which are heart-healthy. Chia seeds have also been reported as having a natural laxative effect, and make a delicious pudding most children love.
Beans and legume of all types can be incorporated into most children’s diets, such as chili, Mexican food and more. Ground up cooked white kidney beans make a creamy base for dips and other snacks.
Plenty of fresh water and liquids
Children should be encouraged to drink fresh water every day. If you have trouble with this, add a small amount of 100% real fruit juice for taste. Serve more soups and stews that are full of vegetables or beans. If your child picks at their food, process the soup until smooth.
Go for a walk every day
We walk our dogs and take pooper scoopers with us for a reason. The same principle can apply to us as well. Walk after a meal to help keep things moving.