Constipation refers to painful bowel movements, difficulty passing stools, hard stools or infrequent firm stools (4 days or longer between stools).
The frequency of stools in newborns and infants can be quite variable. Some infants, particularly those who are breast fed, tend to have many bowel movements a day. Some infants pass a stool after each feeding, while others pass a stool once a day to once every three days. As long as the stool is not hard, there is no cause for worry. Infants often make grunting noises and draw their legs up while passing bowel movements; this is normal.
If your infant has frequent episodes of hard stools, you may give one ounce of prune juice mixed with one ounce of warm water once a day. Prune juice acts as a natural laxative. We do not recommend juice for infants unless it is for the purpose of treating constipation. If you continue to have difficulty, please contact your pediatrician.
If your toddler is having hard stools, we recommend emphasizing foods high in fiber such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains. If the pattern of constipation continues, we recommend consulting with your pediatrician.
Children 2 years and older
At this age, glycerin suppositories do not help. During the process of toilet training, children commonly withhold their stool, leading to hard bowel movements. If this is an issue for you and your child, please schedule an appointment with your pediatrician to discuss treatment options.
If your child is having severe abdominal pain, please notify the doctor immediately.
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