Sat | Dec 4, 2021

Getting your child to go

Published:Sunday | May 12, 2019 | 12:00 AMLatara Boodie - Gleaner Writer

As a new parent, there is nothing more heartbreaking than witnessing your child having problems going to the bathroom. Constipation among children is very common, and helping them with relief can be tricky. Pooping is literally the hardest part of some children’s lives. Although some parents are too embarrassed to discuss their children’s bowel habits (after all, it is kind of gross), studies show that one in three infants are constipated briefly, but about one in 20 becomes chronically constipated for several weeks or longer.

Before you can start potty training and ‘get things moving’, consult with your child’s paediatrician if you believe your child is constipated. Normally, babies pass stool about four times a day, and toddlers go twice daily. Some healthy children only go once every few days. Generally, stool that is hard, painful, or very large signals constipation.

There are several reasons why a child can become constipated. Some experts also blame digestive problems on insufficient dietary fibre, exercise, and water intake; however, studies have shown that altering your child’s diet will not fix the problem immediately. Having an examination is imperative to know which treatment method to take.

There are four treatment methods that doctors recommend to get your child’s bowel movements back on track. These include:

1. Milk Of Magnesia

It’s an over-the-counter (OTC) laxative that increases water in the intestine, which can induce softer bowel movements.

Pros: It’s premixed, requires only a small amount, and is generally effective in long-term studies.

Cons: Many children don’t like the taste (one-third refuse to drink it), and it may be dangerous in kids with kidney problems.


2. Miralax

An OTC laxative that hydrates the intestine and leads to softer bowel movements.

Pros: It has no flavour (so kids can’t taste it), it dissolves in any beverage, it doesn’t cause bloating, and it’s highly effective in long-term studies.

Cons: It works only if it’s consumed in a full cup of liquid, and it needs to be mixed before each use.

3. Lactulose

An indigestible sugar that pulls water into the intestine.

Pros: Children need to drink only a small amount for it to be effective, and it may enhance the growth of good bacteria in the intestine.

Cons: Some kids may find the flavour excessively sweet, it’s been known to cause gas pain, and it’s available only by prescription.

4. Enema

An OTC salt solution that’s inserted directly into the rectum to cause bowel movements

Pros: It works quickly and can break up hard stools that obstruct bowel movements.

Cons: It’s somewhat uncomfortable for children, it’s not suitable for long-term treatment, and it doesn’t clean out the whole intestine.