How often should my child have a bowel movement? — It depends on how old he or she is:
- In the first week of life, most babies have 4 or more bowel movements each day. They are soft or liquid.
- In the first 3 months, some babies have 2 or more bowel movements each day. Others have just 1 each week.
- By age 2, most kids have at least 1 bowel movement each day. They are soft but solid.
- Every child is different. Some have bowel movements after each meal. Others have bowel movements every other day.
How will I know if my child is constipated? — Your child might:
- Have fewer bowel movements than normal
- Have bowel movements that are hard or bigger than normal
- Feel pain when having a bowel movement
- Arch his or her back and cry (if still a baby)
- Avoid going to the bathroom, do a “dance,” or hide when he or she feels a bowel movement coming. This often happens when potty training and when starting school.
- Leak small amounts of bowel movement into the underwear (if he or she is toilet trained)
What if my child gets constipated? — In most children with mild or brief constipation, the problem usually gets better with some simple changes. Have your child:
- Eat more fruit, vegetables, cereal, and other foods with fibre
- Drink some prune juice, apple juice, or pear juice
- Drink at least 32 ounces of water and drinks that aren’t milk each day (for children older than 2 years)
- Avoid milk, yogurt, cheese, and ice cream
- Sit on the toilet for 5 or 10 minutes after meals, if he or she is toilet trained. Offer rewards just for sitting there.
- Stop potty training for a while, if you are working on it
When should I take my child to the doctor or nurse? — You should have your child seen if:
- He or she is younger than 4 months old
- He or she gets constipated often
- You have been trying the steps listed above for 24 hours, but your child has still not had a bowel movement
- There is blood in the bowel movement or on the diaper or underwear
- Your child is in serious pain
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