Dietary fiber is essential for a child's overall health and well-being. According to MayoClinic.com, fiber helps to normalize bowel movements, maintain normal cholesterol levels, prevent diabetes and promote a healthy weight. If your child's diet contains insufficient levels of dietary fiber, he may experience constipation and other bowel issues. Under these circumstances, his pediatrician may recommend the use of fiber supplements. Always consult your health care provider before giving your child and drugs or supplements, particularly if he has a medical condition.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends fibrous foods as the first line of defense against constipation in children. Common whole-food fiber supplements include prunes, apricots, pears, beans and broccoli. These should be included as part of your child's daily diet, and you may need to increase your child's intake of these products during acute episodes of constipation. The AAP also encourages parents to increase a child's fluid intake to prevent and treat constipation.
An extremely concentrated source of dietary fiber, psyllium husk expands in the digestive tract to form a clear, odorless, jelly-like substance, which adds weight to stool and facilitates regular bowel movements. According to the National Institutes of Health, psyllium is an effective treatment for both diarrhea and constipation; it adds weight and volume to bowel movements without making them overly loose. The NIH reports that 3.4 to 16 g of psyllium husk may be an appropriate daily dose for children. However, no studies have demonstrated its long-term safety for children.
Dextrin, a light carbohydrate derived from either corn or wheat, is used as the primary ingredient in several nonprescription fiber supplements. Like psyllium husk, dextrin is a soluble fiber that adds weight and volume to a child's bowel movements. Because of this, children taking dextrin supplements tend to have softer stools that are easier to pass. Some product manufacturers, including Benefiber, produce dextrin supplements that contain added sweeteners or flavors. Other forms of dextrin are colorless and tasteless, so parents can mix them into juice, yogurt or milk.