Constipation (Child)

Image showing a cross-section of the colon blocked by stool.

Bowel movement patterns vary in children. After 4 years of age, children usually have about 1 bowel movement a day. A normal stool is soft and easy to pass. Sometimes stools become firm or hard. They are difficult to pass. They may occur infrequently. This condition is called constipation. It is common in children.

Constipation may cause abdominal discomfort. The stools may be blood-streaked. It may be triggered by cow’s milk, medications, or an underlying disorder. Stress may also play a role. Constipation is most likely to occur at the start of school, when the child’s routine changes.

Simple constipation is easy to overcome once the cause is identified. The doctor may recommend a nondairy milk substitute in addition to more fiber and liquids. To help the stool pass, a glycerin suppository or laxative may be given. Some children receive an enema.

Home care:


The doctor may prescribe medication for your child. Follow the doctor’s instructions on how and when to use this product.

General Care:

  • Increase fiber in the diet by adding fruits, vegetables, cereals, and grains.

  • Increase water intake.

  • Encourage activities that keep the body moving.


as advised by the doctor or our staff.

Special notes to parents

Learn to recognize your child’s normal bowel pattern. Note color, consistency, and frequency of stools.

Call your Doctor Or Get Prompt Medical Attention

if any of the following occur:

  • Fever over 100.4°F (38.0°C)

  • Continuing constipation

  • Bloody stools

  • Abdominal discomfort

  • Refusal to eat

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© 2000-2017 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions. This information has been modified by your health care provider with permission from the publisher.