The condition of irregular bowel movements, occurring fewer than three times per week, is referred to as constipation. Although constipation is often experienced by adults, children and babies can suffer from it as well. Changes in diet, the introduction of solid foods and some health conditions cause constipation in children. Dietary changes are useful in both the treatment and prevention of constipation in small children, even as young as 1 year of age.
Increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables in your child’s diet can help with constipation problems. Fiber is very important for healthy bowel habits because it increases the bulk and softness of the stool, making it much easier to pass. By the age of 1, most children are eating a variety of solid foods. Introduce different foods, one at a time, to find fruits and vegetables that your child likes. When all else fails, blending whole fruits and vegetables into a smoothie provides a tasty drink, along with the necessary fiber for bowel regularity. Prunes, bran and wheat germ are all good choices.
Fiber is a big help in the fight against constipation, but what you may not realize is that as you increase the amount of fiber in your child’s diet, you must also increase the amount of water you offer him. Water helps maintain bulk in the stool, ensuring that it doesn’t become dry and compacted, which is harder for the child to pass. BabyCenter.com explains that approximately 1.3 liters of water is required daily for children ages 1 to 3. The water in milk and juice also counts toward this daily recommendation.
Foods to Avoid
If your 1-year-old is suffering from constipation, try to avoid processed and fast food. These foods contain little fiber, are high in sodium and often have poor nutritional value. By cooking for your child at home, you can control the ingredients, adding more fruits and vegetables to increase the amount of fiber she consumes.
While diet is one cause of constipation, if dietary changes do not resolve your child’s constipation, talk with her pediatrician. Your child may have a food intolerance or other condition that causes recurring constipation. Some children require daily stool softeners to maintain regular bowel movements when high-fiber foods and increased water intake do not resolve the issue.