Family Health Guide

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Constipation: Treatment

Many cases of constipation will resolve on their own without any medical treatment. If you want to help get things moving, it’s easy to make a few diet changes. Talk to your doctor about adding prunes (either in juice or pureed form for babies), raw veggies, bran or other good sources of fiber to your child’s diet. You can also cut down on binding foods like rice, bananas and dairy. It’s also always a good idea to encourage your child to drink more water and keep his body moving with regular exercise.

In babies, you can also try the following:

  • Holding baby so he’s sitting up may ease discomfort temporarily (but don’t let your baby sleep this way)
  • If you’re doing a formula/breastfeeding combo, try switching to just breast milk for a bit to see if that helps
  • If you’re formula feeding, ask your pediatrician about switching to a different brand or a different type of formula, such as a cow’s milk one that is partially hydrolyzed (broken down), or a soy version, which does not contain milk proteins
  • If you’re formula feeding, ask your ped about adding one to two teaspoons of the non-prescription laxative Maltsupex (a malt extract from barley) to the bottle 2-3 times a day, or a teaspoon of flax oil to a bottle once a day. Toddlers can have two teaspoons a day, and older kids can one tablespoon a day.
  • Gently pressing his knees to his chest or bicycling his legs can help get the digestive system moving
  • Babies can also sometimes benefit from a bit of rectal stimulation, which Mom can provide by taking his temperature