Constipation does not refer to the number of bowel movements a child has in a 24-hour period, or even longer. Constipation refers to the passage of very hard bowel movements that by their dry, hard consistency make it difficult and painful for the child to use the bathroom. Although infants can appear to be straining to pass a stool, as long as the stool appears soft, there is no constipation.

Children may have stools six to eight times each day, or once every third or fourth day. As long as the stools remain other than extremely hard in consistency, there is no need to worry about any of these patterns.

Constipation can be caused by diet, illness or psychological factors. Rarely, there is a congenital defect in the large intestine, which causes constipation. Adjusting a child's diet to increase the roughage and fiber, such as providing fruit (except bananas), raw vegetables, whole grains, increased amounts of water and decreased amounts of dairy products may be all that is necessary in an older child. Adding Karo syrup, one teaspoon per two ounces of formula, to the formula of younger children may be necessary to alleviate constipation during infancy.

If your child is quite uncomfortable, you may use a glycerin suppository, such as Babylax, to help stimulate a bowel movement and relieve constipation. Consult us by phone during regular office hours before giving multiple suppositories or using other home remedies such as laxatives, enemas or mineral oil.