Constipation is a common problem in children of all ages. It is the number-one cause of belly pain among kids. Constipation in kids is not usually serious, but it is often uncomfortable! In this article, we will be taking a look at foods that help ease constipation in kids.
Constipation can happen in babies as they shift from breast milk to formula milk or start eating solid foods. Toddlers who are toilet training sometimes can become constipated, especially if they’re not ready. Some kids suffer from constipation when they avoid going to the bathroom, even when they have the urge to poop.
In most cases, constipation happens as a result of a poor diet that doesn’t include enough water and dietary fiber. It usually goes away once kids return to normal routines and eating habits.
Children with constipation show these below signs:
- having fewer than two bowel movements (poops) in a week
- having dry, hard, or difficult-to-pass poops
- feeling that some of the poop hasn’t passed
What is Dietary Fiber and Why Do We Need It?
Dietary fiber, also known as roughage or bulk, includes the parts of plant foods your body can’t digest or absorb. Instead, it passes relatively intact through your stomach, small intestine, and colon and out of your body. Dietary fiber is commonly classified as soluble or insoluble fiber.
- Soluble fiber dissolves in water. It binds with fatty acids, forming a gel-like substance that keeps stools soft.
- Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water. It adds bulk and moisture to the stool.
Dietary fiber normalizes bowel movements and helps maintain bowel health. Studies have also found that a high-fiber diet likely lowers the risk of developing hemorrhoids and colorectal cancer.
We find dietary fiber in plant foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans. Both soluble and insoluble fiber help treat and prevent constipation in kids.
10 Foods That Help Ease Constipation in Kids
Dietary fiber is essential for a child’s health, alongside protein, carbohydrates, and fats. It helps absorb sugar, binds the waste well, and helps with proper bowel movements. Parents need to understand their child’s nutritional needs and plan their meals accordingly because what their kids eat daily impacts the gut health as well as the overall digestive system.
These ten foods that help ease constipation in kids are excellent sources of dietary fiber and can help keep kids healthy and relieve constipation!
1. Prunes: Eases Constipation
Dried plums, known as prunes, are rich in fiber and gut-healthy phenolic compounds. They can help ease and speed up bowel movements. The insoluble fiber in prunes, known as cellulose, increases the amount of water in the stool, adding bulk. The soluble fiber in prunes is fermented in the colon to produce short-chain fatty acids, increasing stool weight.
Give overnight soaked Prunes to kids first thing in the morning. Prune juice has a high sorbitol content which acts as a natural laxative. You can also serve prunes in salads, cereals, oatmeal, baked goods, and smoothies. Prunes and prune juice are excellent natural remedies for constipation in kids.
2. Foods that help ease constipation in kids: Apples and Pears
Apples and pears are excellent sources of soluble fiber and vitamin C. Both fiber and vitamin C aid in better digestive health.
Apples contain pectin, a type of soluble fiber which is rapidly fermented by gut bacteria to form short-chain fatty acids, which can pull water into the colon, softening the stool and promoting its movement through the digestive tract. Apples are an easy way to boost the fiber content of your diet and alleviate constipation. Kids can eat them whole on their own, or you can add them to their salads or baked goods.
Pears contain natural laxatives, such as fructose and sorbitol. Both fructose and sorbitol are not well absorbed by the body and act as a natural laxative by bringing water into the intestines. Pears also offer prebiotics, which promotes bowel regularity and constipation relief by softening and bulking up the stool. To get the most fiber from the pears, encourage kids to eat them with the skin on.
3. Spinach, Broccoli, and Other Greens: Constipation relievers
Greens such as spinach, broccoli, and brussels sprouts are rich in fiber, and they are excellent sources of folate and vitamins C and K. They can help add bulk to stools to support regularity.
Spinach is high in both fiber and magnesium, which help the colon flush things through, and have been shown to relieve constipation. You can serve raw baby spinach or tender greens in salads or sandwiches for a fiber boost.
Broccoli, a superfood for kids, also contains sulforaphane, which may protect the gut and aid digestion. Studies show that the people who ate broccoli had fewer symptoms of constipation and quicker bowel movements. It can be boiled, steamed, grilled, or roasted and added into soups and stews and eaten raw in salads or as a snack.
4. Beans, Green Peas, and Lentils
Most beans, peas, and lentils, also known as pulses — are among the cheapest, fiber-packed food groups you can include in your kid’s diet. Eating them will improve bowel movements and reduce constipation.
Beans are fiber powerhouses with over seven grams per serving. They contain both soluble and insoluble fiber, keeping things moving through your digestive tract. From black bean, kidney bean, and lima bean to pinto bean, any bean will help in the constipation department. You can add them to soups, dips, salads, or side dishes.
Green peas are often cited as reliable constipation relievers, and even though they are small in size, they are loaded with fiber content. A one-cup serving of green peas packs in 8.8 grams of fiber, which is a substantial amount, especially compared to other types of peas. They can be given as a simple snack by boiling and seasoning them.
Lentils add a rich flavor to soups and salads while also providing plenty of added fiber and health benefits. Eating lentils can increase butyric acid production, a type of short-chain fatty acid found in the colon which increases the movement of the digestive tract to promote bowel movements.
5. Oatmeal, one of the best foods that help ease constipation in kids
Oatmeal, a common and widely preferred food for babies, is an excellent food for children with recurrent episodes of constipation. Oats contain a soluble fiber called beta-glucan, which helps with digestion, and cholesterol. One cup of oats has over 16 grams of fiber. Most packaged oatmeals are loaded with sugar and other artificial sweeteners, so make your own for a healthier and tastier start to your day.
Avocados are high in fiber and magnesium to help pull water back into your intestines to keep poop soft and easy to pass. This source of both soluble and insoluble fiber can help relieve constipation.
Also, avocados are exceptionally nutritious fruits, and they are packed with bioactive compounds, including carotenoids, vitamin C, vitamin E, and phenolic compounds. A cup of mashed avocado has 10 grams of fiber plus heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.
Add a squeeze of fresh lime juice and some salt for easy guacamole to serve with chips, or spread some on whole-grain toast. Guacamole also makes a great spread to serve in wraps or burgers.
7. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes, unlike other tubers, contain a good amount of fiber, and they are a delicious constipation cure for kids. One serving contains 4 grams of fiber and natural laxatives like pectin, lignin, and cellulose, which can aid bowel movements by adding bulk and weight to stools.
Sweet potatoes can be mashed, roasted, steamed, boiled, or baked. You can also use them in any recipe that calls for regular potatoes.
8. Whole Grains
Whole grains foods are high in fiber, which can support healthy digestion in various ways. The fiber in whole grains helps give bulk to stools and lowers your risk of constipation. Whole grains also deliver a variety of important nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber, and other healthy plant compounds.
You can incorporate whole grains into your kid’s diet in many ways. Whole grains include oats, brown rice, whole wheat, quinoa, barley, and rye. Replace white bread, white rice, regular pasta with whole-grain bread, whole-wheat pasta, and brown rice.
9. Blueberries, Raspberries, and Strawberries
Berries like blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries are rich in antioxidants and are excellent snacks for kids. They are high in water and fiber, help soften your stool and increase bowel movement frequency. They also contain sorbitol, enzymes, and phytochemicals that support digestive function, and they are often recommended for constipation relief. One cup of berries has around 4 grams of fiber.
Eat them plain as a snack, or add them to yogurt, oatmeal, cereal, salads, desserts, and smoothies.
10. Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are good sources of protein, healthy fats, fibers, vitamins, and minerals. They provide many health benefits. And are also widely eaten as a snack food. They are high in beneficial fiber and can improve gut health and alleviate constipation.
Almonds, pistachios, pecans, hazelnuts, peanuts, and walnuts are some of the nuts with the highest fiber content. Just a handful of almonds contain 3.5 g of fiber, and a handful of peanuts has 2.6 g of fiber. You can serve kids a mixture of nuts as snacks, add them to shakes, smoothies, and cereal, or use them as toppings on a salad, oatmeal, or sandwich.
Chia seeds, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds are some of the most popular seeds. You can add them to smoothies or sprinkle them on yogurt, oatmeal, or salads.
Making healthy changes to your child’s diet and exercise habits will smooth out any constipation woes. Kids should get their dietary fiber directly from foods rather than pills or other supplements. Also, when introducing more fiber into your child’s diet, it’s important to increase the fiber content to avoid gas and bloating.
If your child is eating plenty of high-fiber food but not getting enough fluid to help flush it through their system, it can worsen. Dehydration is a common cause of constipation, as their intestines cannot add enough water to stools, resulting in hard, dry, and lumpy stools. Hence drinking plenty of water can often help to ease or resolve the symptoms. They can also add immunity-boosting nourishing juices to their intake.
However, if diet or lifestyle changes are not enough to ease your child’s constipation symptoms, they may be suffering from chronic constipation, leading to complications or signaling an underlying condition. Take your child to a doctor right away if constipation lasts longer than two weeks or is accompanied by fever, loss of appetite, blood in the stool, abdominal swelling, weight loss, and pain during bowel movements.