Constipation can cause your child to have painful bowel movements, and prune juice can help resolve the problem. Constipation occurs when muscle tone is weak in the intestines or when there is not enough water left in the stool for it to pass easily from the body, according to Ask Dr. Sears. Children have constipation for a variety of reasons, and identifying the problem and taking steps to solve it are important to maintaining overall digestive health.
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Prune juice acts as a bowel irritant and laxative and can help to pass stool. Up to Date recommends that parents give four to six ounces of prune juice to children between 1 and 6 years old. Unfiltered prune juice is best, and giving your child prune juice on an empty stomach helps it work more efficiently. You can also substitute apple or pear juice if you don’t have prune juice on hand. Other types of juice are not as effective, and it is important to give your child 100 percent juice. Apricots and plums have also been shown to help constipation. Give prune juice 24 hours to work.
Regular Bowel Movements
Toddlers should have bowel movements one to two times per day. However, some children may only have bowel movements once or twice per week. If there is no pain, the stool is not hard and this is regular for your child, your child is not constipated.
Alternate Natural Treatments
Ensure that your toddler drinks at least 32 ounces of water or other clear liquids each day. Include whole grains, fruits and vegetables, such as peas, beans and broccoli, in his diet to help resolve and prevent constipation. Yogurt, cow’s milk, ice cream and cheese may sound good to your toddler to eat, but avoid giving him these while he is constipated. You might also consider a fiber supplement to help your child with constipation. Ground flax seed is one form of supplemental fiber. Psyllium husks, from psyllium bran, are a natural laxative to consider. You can find these at natural health food stores. Your doctor may recommend other types of laxatives or a suppository as well. You can find these over the counter, but discuss using them with your doctor first.
When to Call the Doctor
If your child does not have a bowel movement within 24 hours of drinking the prune juice, call your child’s health practitioner. Severe pain or rectal bleeding combined with constipation may indicate a more serious problem. Don’t wait to call the doctor after giving prune juice if your child exhibits these symptoms.