A Bath With Baking Soda for Constipation in Children

Constipation can impact nearly everyone, including children, and coping with the discomfort is often stressful for a child. Caregivers have many options for home remedies that can reduce pain from constipation and relieve the constipation, but seek medical care for a child who suffers from persistent or frequent constipation. Ignoring constipation can make the situation worse and some children can fear using the toilet because of the discomfort.

Mother bathing her little boy. Credit: Chad Baker/Jason Reed/Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

Symptoms of Constipation

Constipation in a child consists of trouble passing bowel movements, straining, having hard stools or rectal pressure, according to The Children's Hospital, which is affiliated with the University of Colorado Denver. A normal frequency of bowel movements varies from one person to another, but typically a bowel movement should occur more frequently than once every three days.

Dietary Significance

Eating too little fiber and consuming too little fluids can cause constipation in children. When the problem begins, a caregiver should offer the child plenty of fluids, including juices like prune or pear, to soften stools and make them easier to pass. Eating too much fiber and not drinking enough fluids can result in constipation. Fresh fruits, vegetables, beans and bran are good sources of fiber, according to The Children's Hospital.

Consequences

Several problems can occur with constipation. Children can experience abdominal pressure or pain, bloating, gas and sometimes diarrhea when the liquid component of the fecal matter makes its way around the blocked stools. Hemorrhoids or anal fissures can appear from straining and passing hard stools. An anal fissure is an open cut in the rectal area that causes a great deal of bleeding. Children might withhold passing stools to avoid the discomfort of the fissure or the hemorrhoids. This will exacerbate the problem.

Sitz Bath

A Sitz bath can relieve several discomforts associated with constipation. To prepare this for a child, mix 2 oz. of baking soda in a warm bath, and have the child sit in the bath for 20 minutes. The warmth of the bath can help relax the child and the anal sphincter to make passing stools easier, states The Children's Hospital. The baking soda also can relieve itching or pain associated with hemorrhoids or an anal fissure. Caregivers can help a child massage the abdomen in a clockwise motion to help relax the stomach muscles and encourage a bowel movement.

Alternatives

When warm baths with baking soda, extra fluids and added fiber have no impact on a child's constipation, it might be best to contact a health-care professional. Glycerin suppositories might be recommended. Kaiser Permanente suggests these suppositories are safe for one or two uses to relieve constipation. Laxatives and enemas should never be used without the approval of a health-care professional.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
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