While there are a number of reasons why your child may be constipated, one of the ways to combat the condition is to get her to eat a high-fiber diet. You might think that it's going to be difficult to get your child to eat more fiber, but it's easier than you realize. Fiber is found in a lot of foods children already like, such as fruits and cereal, and they don't need to get very much to improve their bowel function. Knowing what high-fiber foods your kids can eat can help you get them on the road to regularity.
How Much Fiber?
Knowing how much fiber your child needs can help you see how easy it is for them to get enough. According to Baylor College of Medicine, you can determine your child's daily fiber needs by adding 5 to his age. For example, if your child is 9 years old, he needs 14 grams of fiber a day. When adding fiber to your child's diet, make sure he also gets enough liquid from water or 100-percent fruit juice.
Fun, Fibrous Fruit
Fruit is sweet and fun to eat, and including it in your child's diet is an easy way to get her to eat more fiber. When you create a high-fiber diet to improve her constipation, make sure she gets 1 to 2 cups of fruit a day. To maximize fiber intake, try to include high-fiber fruits, such as raspberries, with 3 grams of fiber per 1-cup serving; pears, with nearly 6 grams of fiber in one large pear; or apples, with almost 3 grams of fiber per apple. It's also important that you keep the skins on, especially with pears and apples.
Vegetables are also a good source of natural fiber. On a high-fiber diet, you want your child to get 2 to 3 cups of veggies a day. Including vegetables at lunch and dinner can help ensure that he meets his daily fiber needs. One large carrot has more than 2 grams of fiber, so offering carrot sticks and a peanut butter dip at snack time is a great way for you to get more fiber in your child's diet.
Wholesome Whole Grains
Switching your refined-grain foods, such as white bread, to whole-grain foods, such as whole-wheat bread, can also boost the fiber in your child's diet. At least half of the grain choices in her diet should be whole grains. Easy whole-grain switches include cereal, pasta and rice. One cup of cooked white spaghetti has less than 1 gram of fiber, while the same serving of whole-wheat spaghetti has almost 3 grams.
Beans, Peas, Nuts and Seeds
Beans, peas, nuts and seeds are not only a good source of fiber, they're also a good source of protein. Subbing in beans for the usual chicken or meat can help boost your child's fiber intake without sacrificing protein. Add beans to soup, salad, rice or pasta dishes. A 1/2-cup serving of kidney beans has almost 8 grams of fiber. Chickpeas, black beans and lentils are also high-fiber options. Nuts and seeds make healthy, high-fiber snacks, or you can add them to hot cereal or salad for a nutty crunch.
- Nutrition411: Constipation Management in Children Q & A
- Harvard University Health Services: Fiber Content of Foods in Common Portions
- Baylor College of Medicine: How Much Fiber Does My 8-Year-Old Daughter Need?
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: My Daily Food Plan: 1,200-Calorie Pattern
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: My Daily Food Plan: 2,200-Calorie Pattern