Constipation is common throughout childhood. Dr. Simone Majetich, a family physician with Lake Health Physician Group SOM Center Primary Care, explains why it happens and how to solve this common issue:
A reaction to diet
Constipation usually occurs when you first introduce solid foods or cow’s milk into a child's diet. This transitional diet is often lacking in fiber and fluids. A reasonable goal for a young child's fiber intake is about 5 grams per day. Offer several servings of pureed vegetables, fruits and a fiber-containing infant cereal each day. Each serving contains about 1 gram of fiber.
For older children, about 15 grams of fiber a day is recommended. Drinking too much milk (more than 32 ounces) can slow digestion and make children feel full, keeping them from drinking the water they need. Drinking 24 ounces of milk is more than enough to meet their calcium needs.
Try "P" fruits
When you really need to get things going, consider serving fruits that start with “P” such as pears, peaches, plums and prunes. These are high in fiber and their natural sugars help draw water into the stool.
When to talk to your child's doctor
If your child is well hydrated and eating a diet high in fiber, but still having issues with recurrent constipation, it may be time to talk to your primary care provider.
About the author
Dr. Simone Majetich earned her medical degree from Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine. She completed her internship and residency at University Hospitals Richmond Medical Center. Her special medical interests include preventive care, family medicine, integrative medicine and pediatrics. New patients are welcome at her office, Lake Health Physician Group SOM Primary Care, located in Willoughby.