Kid’s Constipation: Quick Relief with Real Foods

Manage your kid’s constipation. Get quick constipation relief with real foods using a “food first” strategy.

Is your kid backed up? Going “number two” infrequently?

I bet you want to know how to get rid of constipation.

And not with a stool softener, but with a food-based approach…at least initially.

Constipation in kids is distracting…for everyone.

I believe the best way to start out managing it is by using real foods.

As your first strategy, many toddlers and kids will be able to move those difficult to pass stools, and get back to normal bowel movements (literally, and figuratively).

In this article, we’ll talk about constipation, normal bowel movements, why kids get constipated and safe techniques to use such as natural laxatives, stool softener foods, and other natural remedies.

Toddler constipation natural remedies

Table of Contents

Is My Kid Constipated?

Kate’s son used to “get sick” right after eating breakfast and just before he boarded the bus for school.

Nary a morning passed that he didn’t complain of a tummy ache.

Kate thought he was lactose intolerant since his tummy aches seemed to happen after he ate cereal with milk.

Eventually, she took him to the doctor and an ultrasound was done.

The verdict?

He had chronic constipation.

It turns out her son was trying NOT to go during the day at school.

And, he wasn’t taking the time in the morning to go to the bathroom.

When she came to me, Kate was clear she didn’t wanted to relieve her son’s constipation.

She wanted to know whether she could use natural laxatives for her child, and the most effective ways to quickly relieve his constipation.

Specifically, she wanted to know which foods could help his constipation.

Simply put: she was interested in natural stool softeners for kids.  

So, we got to work.

We targeted quick relief strategies, including a change in her son’s diet to bring in more food-oriented natural laxatives.

With some additional bowel training, Kate’s son was able to get back on course.

Prevalence of Constipation in Kids

Did you know about 3 to 5% of general pediatric office visits are due to constipation complaints?

Thirty percent of all referrals to pediatric gastroenterologists are for constipation, according to UptoDate.

Constipation is common in kids, and I am seeing it more and more in my practice.

Constipation happens when a child (or adult) is unable to, or has difficulty passing stool.

Typically, this is due to hardened stool, which can occur for several reasons, including poor diet, dehydration, medications, or a medical problem.

I will be focusing on a real food approach (rather than the medical model of constipation management including stool softeners), using foods that are natural laxatives. 

[If your child has a more serious issue with chronic constipation, you may need a combination of medication like stimulant laxatives and lifestyle approaches, which should be discussed and guided by your doctor.]

First, a little background information.

What are normal bowel movements?

If your child passes a bowel movement once or twice per day, or even up to once every 2-3 days, without discomfort or pain, he or she is considered to have normal bowel movements.

Typical Constipation Symptoms in Kids

People with constipation have several symptoms.

The following ones should alert you to constipation, but they aren’t always terribly obvious:

Rome IV Diagnostic Criteria for Chronic Constipation

To objectively identify chronic constipation, healthcare professionals look at the Rome IV diagnostic criteria, which were established by expert consensus:

Your child has suffered for at least 3 months (and the symptoms started at least 6 months ago) with at least two of the following symptoms: 

  • lumpy or hard stools in more than one out of four bowel movements
  • straining during these movements
  • a feeling that there is more stool to pass but he is unable to pass it
  • a sense of blockage preventing the passage of stool
  • needing help to remove stool (manual extraction or stimulation)
  • less than 3 spontaneous bowel movements per week
  • rare instances of loose stools (even with use of laxatives)

Is it Diarrhea or Encopresis (Soiling)?

Sometimes constipated kids have diarrhea, which can be very confusing for parents.

Often this is what is called encopresis.

Encopresis happens when stool is withheld in the intestinal tract and grows very large, stretching the rectum.

Over time, the feeling of having to go may become dulled and your child may not realize he needs to pass a bowel movement.

Sometimes, liquid stool makes its way around the large, hard stool in the rectum and leaks out into the underwear.

It often looks like diarrhea, but is really a side effect of significant chronic constipation.

4 Reasons for Constipation in Children

There are four main reasons your child might be prone to constipation.

They include diet, illness, withholding, and lifestyle changes.

Let’s take a look at each one.

1. Eating Foods that Cause Constipation

In infants, constipation is rarely a problem, but it can crop up when you start giving your baby solid food.

Baby constipation is merely due to the intestinal tract adapting to the digestion and processing of a more complex food-based diet.

Adding a bit of juice or more water to the diet can help make this transition easier, soften the stools and make them easier to pass.

I had to do this with one of my kiddos when we transitioned off breastmilk and on to a full food diet.

In older kids, diet is often the culprit of constipation.

A lack of fiber and fluids in the diet are two of the most common diet mistakes leading to constipation.

Toddler constipation can occur when kids are picky and have a limited diet.

Often, toddlers stop eating vegetables.

These contain quite a bit of fiber and eliminating them from the diet can lead to constipation.

Also, if you haven’t introduced whole grains yet, your toddler’s diet may be low in fiber.

Foods that cause constipation such as those with little fiber including dairy products, or too many processed foods, may not support normal bowel movements.

Additionally, when kids don’t drink enough water in the diet (from liquids and/or fruit and veggies), this can lead to a back up.

2. Illness May Interrupt Bowel Movements

Low food and fluid intake due to an illness can throw regular bowel movements off track.

Thankfully, this is most likely temporary.

Medications may also cause constipation.

Certain medical conditions, such as thyroid problems, may make children more likely to be constipated.

3. Withholding Stool (Trying Not to Go #2)

There are many reasons children may withhold their stools.

Fear of pain associated with passing a bowel movement, a desire to be independent or have control over visits to the potty (common during the toddler years), distractions, too busy playing, or being afraid to go to the bathroom outside of the home (at school, friend’s house, camp, etc) are all reasons.

Withholding can lead to constipation and may even contribute to encopresis.

4. Changes in Routine, Environment, or Added Stress

Moving, starting a new school, re-starting school, travel, or difficult relationships are just some of the everyday life occurrences that may throw some children off of their normal stooling pattern.

If constipation is untreated, it may get worse, leading to a need for regular medications or an enema to eliminate stool and relieve constipation.

Toddler constipation natural remedies

Natural Constipation Relief for Kids Using Real Foods

The goal of constipation treatment is to relieve it and re-establish normal stooling patterns.

There are several ways to treat constipation naturally.

The method used will depend on your child’s age and how serious the problem is.

First and foremost, I suggest you try using natural laxatives coming from food.

Establishing a healthy diet and lifestyle will support your child’s regularity.

In fact, this will help every child with constipation.

In severe cases of chronic constipation, medications may be prescribed to “clean out” your child’s intestinal tract.

Some medications soften the stool.

These are known as stool softeners (such as Miralax, a stimulant laxative).

Other medications help clear out the stool (an enema).

You should always consult with your pediatrician before giving over-the-counter stool softeners or enemas to your child.

Understanding Fiber and Constipation

You probably already know a high fiber diet, which includes both insoluble fibers and soluble fibers, is key to keeping the digestive system working normally.

Fiber is key to constipation prevention. 

It makes your child’s stool easier to pass.

What is insoluble fiber?

Insoluble fibers are fiber sources that are not dissolvable in water.

They add bulk to your child’s stool, such as wheat bran and vegetables.

What is soluble fiber?

Soluble fibers dissolve in water.

They help lower cholesterol and keep blood sugar levels normal.

Foods such as oats, barley and fruit are sources of soluble fiber.

Fiber adds bulk and draws water into the stool, making it softer and helping it move through the intestine.

However, bulking your child’s diet up with fiber may not always work initially.

In fact, a high fiber diet may make constipation worse in some children.

Added fiber may add too much bulk to the stool, stretching the rectum and colon and interfering with the sense of needing to go, especially in children who tend to withhold their stool.

Your child should drink enough water, especially when adding more fiber to his diet.

Exercise is also beneficial to the child who struggles with constipation.

Warning: If your child is “clogged up,” extra fiber combined with poor water and fluid intake can lead to an impaction.

This worsens constipation and blocks the intestinal tract.

An enema may be needed in this situation, so consult with your pediatrician.

Your first strategy for constipation relief should be a real food approach, optimizing whole foods as they provide natural laxatives. #constipationinkids #naturallaxatives #cureconstipation Click To Tweet

How Much Fiber Do Kids Need?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children get enough fiber in their diet.

Here’s a quick and dirty calculation to determine how much fiber your child should get—as a minimum—each day:

Age + 5 grams of fiber = total daily fiber

So, a 2 year old would need 7 grams of fiber per day; an 8 year old would need 13 grams of fiber per day.

Other guidelines are as follows:

14 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories

And still other guidelines:

  • 1 to 3 year-olds should get about 19 g of fiber each day
  • 4 to 8 year-olds should get about 25 g of fiber each day
  • 9 to 13 year-old girls should get about 26 g of fiber each day
  • 9 to 13 year-old boys should get about 31 g of fiber each day
  • 14 to 18 year-old girls should get about 26 g of fiber each day
  • 14 to 18 year-old boys should get about 38 g of fiber each day

Easy Tips for Managing Constipation with Fiber Foods and a Diet Plan

  1. Target five age-appropriate servings of fruits and veggies each day –this will give fiber and water together.
  2. Frequently serve high fiber fruits and veggies, leaving the skin on (prunes, plums, berries, beans, cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cauliflower).
  3. Swap refined grains like white bread and white pasta to whole grain versions such as whole wheat bread, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, and fiber-rich cereals.
  4. Add beans to your meals such as kidney, black or pinto beans.
  5. Make sure your child is drinking enough water every day, and an extra cup or two won’t hurt.
  6. Consider a children’s probiotic, but discuss with your doctor first.
  7. Add probiotic foods to the diet.
Toddler constipation natural remedies

Natural Laxatives for Children 

Several foods act as natural laxatives for kids.

Foods that help with constipation tend to be higher in fiber and interact with the gut with a laxative effect.

Read more  16 Month Old: Milestones and development

Many of these foods are easy to find and a simple home remedy for constipation you can find in the grocery store.

Start with food first!

1. Pear Nectar

Fruit nectars are different from fruit juices.

Juices that are labeled 100% fruit juice are just that—100% juice.

Nectars, on the other hand, may contain added sugar or the addition of other juices.

Because of this, nectars a higher osmotic load, increasing the amount of water into the intestine and helping to stimulate a bowel movement.

I suggest this as a quick home remedy for all my families who deal with chronic constipation.

I’ve seen it work in children who are non-mobile due to a medical condition such as cerebral palsy or developmental delay, or other mobility constraint.

Tip: Warm up the nectar for additional movement potential.

2. Berries

The seeds on berries like strawberries add roughage and bulk to stools.

3. Cherries or Apricots

These fruits are high in fiber.

Apricots also contain sorbitol, which may have a natural laxative effect.

4. Seeds

Sesame, poppy, flax and chia are some examples of seeds.

They add a punch of fiber to food.

Add them to cereal, or grind in a coffee bean grinder and mix into hot cereal such as oatmeal.

Layer atop cold high fiber cereal or yogurt.

5. Prunes

I used this with my first child!

I added an ounce of prune juice to her formula every day as we were transitioning to solid food, just to keep things moving along.

Use prune puree or prune juice—they are both high in fiber.

Did you know that 1 cup of prune juice contains about 3 grams of fiber?

6. Molasses

Molasses syrup is a good source of magnesium, which can act as a bowel stimulant.

Mix some molasses into smoothies and hot cereal.

7. Beans and Lentils

You know these are high in fiber, now you just need to figure out how to work them in your child’s diet!

Try including beans and lentils in salads, soups, quesadillas, and bean dip.

8. Whole Grains

You can find whole grains in plenty of foods: oatmeal, barley, quinoa, cold cereal, breads, crackers and more.

Start shifting your refined grains over to whole grain foods for extra fiber.

9. Breads and Cereals

Not sure which cereals to buy?

I’ve got an article on what I consider the 27 best cereals for kids  — they are high fiber, low sugar cereals.

Don’t forget to look at the serving size!

Target at least 2 grams of fiber per serving.

10. Dried Fruit

Raisins are a standout, as they have tartaric acid.

Researchers have found that one small box of raisins per day helped to increase transit time in the gut (translated: bowel contents traveled faster through the intestine).

11. Nuts

Fibrous and fabulous.

If your child isn’t allergic, dig in!

Always offer age-appropriate forms of nuts, especially to younger children.

Should My Child Use a Fiber Supplement?

Many parents ask if fiber supplements would be helpful for their child.

And for some kids, they can be.

BeneFiber and Metamucil are examples.

However, it’s important to know that any fiber supplement can make constipation worse.

They may be dehydrating, potentially encouraging constipation.

Check with your doctor before using them.

Other Food-Based Stool Softeners for Kids 

In addition to real food sources, there are other lifestyle and food considerations for helping your child relieve constipation.

Good Old-Fashioned Water

Children should drink enough water and consume plenty of other sources of fluid, such as juicy fruit and soups.

Watch out for the sugar content of beverages though!

Mint Tea

If your child is willing to drink hot tea, perhaps a mint tea would help.

Menthol is known to relax muscles.

The entire gastrointestinal tract is one long muscle!

Senna Tea for Kids (with a Warning!)

Herbal preparations of senna such as senna tea are not regulated by the FDA or proven safe for children.

They could be contaminated and harmful for your child.

Senna is found in tablets or syrup form, such as Ex-Lax or Senekot, and may be used with children who have encopresis.

ONLY use this under the guidance of your doctor.

Are Probiotics Good for Constipated Kids?

There is little evidence in favor of probiotics as a cure for constipation, however, anecdotally, I have heard from patients that it can help soften and regulate bowel movements.

We need more research in this area.

Consider using these 6 kid-friendly fermented foods you can find in the fridge, as they contain probiotics.

Do Dairy Products Cause Constipation?

Removal of dairy may help relieve a child’s constipation.

I suggest trying this for two weeks, and if you see improvement, continue a dairy-free diet.

You will need to substitute a fortified, non-dairy substitute, such as soy milk, so that your child gets a good source of calcium and vitamin D.

Be sure to cut back on milk if your child is a big drinker.

Two to three cups of dairy per day is enough (that’s 16 – 24 ounces per day), and more than that could be contributing to constipation.

Does your child struggle with constipation?

Need More Help for Kids Constipation?

Preventing constipation is the key to avoiding this issue and that begins with a healthy diet.

My program, The Nourished Child Blueprint, helps you set up a food system that is healthy and full of fiber. 

I’ve discussed constipation on my podcast, as well.

Lastly, don’t forget to keep your eye on the end goal: Raising a healthy eater.

Here’s what you need to know if you really want to raise a healthy eater.

Original publication 2016 | Updated September, 2020

— Update: 05-03-2023 — found an additional article Natural remedies for constipation in kids from the website for the keyword toddler constipation natural remedies.

The very first time I saw my daughter struggle to poop I felt terrible. After months of exclusive breastfeeding with regular very soft bowel movements, solid foods were getting to her belly. A few times, she screamed so loudly I was really nervous something terrible was happening. Thankfully, there were natural remedies for constipation that helped her pass things through. Constipation happens to kids of all ages, from babies up to teens, and it can be stressful!

Constipation in babies

In babies, constipation is usually related to their digestive tract getting used to the process of digesting solid food. The best baby constipation foods include soft fruits and veggies (puree or appropriately served whole versions if following the baby-led weaning method).

Food variety is very important in babies to meet key nutrient needs, so don’t get stuck on only serving fruit and veggies due to fear of constipation.

If you need more support as you start your baby on solids, be sure to download my free starting solids e-guide to help.

You can also add a couple of extra ounces of fluid each day (1-2 oz. should help).  Prune or apricot nectar (1 oz.) can also be added to their milk/formula to get things moving. Most of their fluid intake should be coming from formula or breast milk.

Constipation in toddlers

Toddler constipation is super common! There are many reasons for this but the top reasons are related to potty training (they are still learning how to identify their urges) and picky eating.

When toddlers are first learning to use the potty, they might resist the urge to go so they don’t miss playtime (this happens in older kids too). The more they hold it in, the higher the risk of constipation. They also might drink less water so they don’t have to stop play to pee as well. Lack of water can contribute to backups. You can help them by intentionally stopping playtime and bringing them to the bathroom. Be sure to explain to them that they won’t miss out on anything and it will all pause while they go potty.

Picky eating and constipation

Picky eating in toddlers is also a top cause of constipation. During this phase, toddlers decline more fruits and veggies and tend to opt more toward the foods that are “white.” Think bananas, french fries, white toast, sugary or sweet muffins, and bread. These foods lack fiber which is important to help move things along. If you have a picky toddler at home, be sure you learn how to address that first.

If picky eating is a struggle for your toddler or child, be sure to download this try a new food guide to get you back on track. What your kids eat will significantly help with constipation prevention and treatment. 

How to identify constipation in children

Constipation a very unpleasant feeling for kids, just as it is for adults. Bloating, cramping, and straining are all signs of constipation. But there are a lot more than you may think and a few might surprise you. 

Babies can’t tell you what they are feeling and toddlers/young children may not know what they are feeling or be able to accurately describe it. This makes identifying constipation difficult.

What is normal poop?

Getting a visual of your children’s bowel movements is a good way to determine if they might be struggling with constipation.

Ideally, when they go, their poop should be smooth and long. If your child’s poop is extra lumpy and hard or looks like tiny marbles, there is a good chance they are constipated. Babies should have soft, pudding-like poop in their diaper.

Talking about your kid’s poop isn’t very glamorous I know, but trust me, once you learn to identify what is normal and what is not, it takes a lot of the stress away.

Signs of constipation in kids

As a parent, it is important to pay attention to your child’s behaviors, they will often give you signs they are constipated. Some common signs of constipation in babies, toddlers, and kids include:

  • Straining to poop
  • Crying when going to the bathroom (common in babies)
  • A touch of blood left on the toilet paper or in the diaper
  • Pain, or discomfort while pooping (older kids can tell you)
  • Fewer than normal trips to the bathroom
  • Frequent trips to the bathroom with small hard stools
  • Feeling bloated and full (are they holding their belly?)
  • Frequent bedwetting
  • Recurrent UTI’s in girls

Causes of Constipation In Kids

Everybody is different, so it is important to get to know your child’s routine and what is normal for them. When you figure out the root cause of their constipation, you can determine which natural remedies for constipation will help most. Here are some of the most common reasons kids get constipated:

Avoiding the urge to go

  • Ignoring the urge to go too frequently produces hard, dry stool that makes it even harder the next time.
  • This can lead stool to back up in the rectum and may also press on the bladder causing children to wet the bed at night.
  • Over time, this can cause chronic constipation.
  • Kids who avoid the urge to go often don’t want to miss playtime (see below) or they are afraid to go because of the pain.

Discomfort or Embarrassment

  • Children may be uncomfortable or embarrassed about using the restroom outside of their homes and instead avoid having a bowel movement altogether.
  • Many children report they don’t like to use the bathrooms at school so they will hold it until they get home. You might be surprised how often I hear this in my office.
  • Kids will often avoid going to the bathroom at friends’ houses, at overnight camps, or in other less comfortable environments. If this is a chronic issue, it can lead to problems.

Interrupting Playtime

  • Children may not want to stop playing to take a trip to the bathroom, so they hold it in.
  • Encouraging regular bathroom breaks when at home can help create a routine.

Not drinking enough fluids

  • The fluid is required to move food through the GI tract. When kids don’t drink enough fluids throughout the day, it is harder to pass digested food waste through their bodies. This can cause hard stools that back up.
  • Stool backups can stretch the rectum creating more back up.

Medications and supplements

  • Iron supplements, pain medications, and anticonvulsants can result in constipation. If your child is taking any of these medications, be sure to monitor their bowel movements.
  • Discuss these medications with your doctor or dietitian, they might suggest increasing certain foods or fluids or adding in other fiber type supplements to ensure constipation doesn’t occur.

A diet low in fiber

  • Fiber comes from fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. Kids who are not offered a variety of fiber-rich foods or those with picky eating tendencies that refuse these foods may be more likely to become constipated.

How much fiber should kids have per day?

There are many different recommendations out there for the number of grams of fiber kids need each day. I find the easiest to remember is the age + 5 grams rule.

If your child is 4 years old then 4 years + 5 grams = 9 grams of fiber per day. Most children get well below the recommended amount of fiber each day. This is why constipation is one of the most common childhood issues.

Don’t stress about counting fiber grams each day, just get in the habit of offering a fruit, vegetable, legume or whole-grain option at each meal.

Kids constipation quick relief

If the constipation is new, or mild, start with diet changes and hydration. If the constipation is ongoing, or you notice frequent signs, it would be best to consult with their doctor.

4 steps to constipation relief for kids

1. Diet: Add Fiber to Your Childs Diet

  • Fiber adds mass to stool, reducing strain and discomfort and making it easier to pass through and out of the body.
  • If a child is already severely backed up, fiber from food can make it worse. So talk to their doctor first to determine if medication is needed as the first step. If constipation is mild, increasing fiber can help.
  • Increase fiber in the diet slowly and make sure they get plenty of water (see step 2.)
  • See the list of foods below for natural remedies for constipation.

2. Diet: Hydrate

  • Hydration is essential to regular bowel movements, particularly if more fiber is added to the diet.
  • If the fiber is increased without adequate hydration, poop is bulked up, but still difficult to pass.
  • Keeping your child properly hydrated softens the poop so it is easier to pass.
  • A quick guideline is that children should drink the number of 8 oz. glasses equal to their age.
    • So, if your child were 3 years, they would drink (3) 8 oz. glasses of water (or 24 oz of fluid)-not all at once of course.
  • Limit milk intake if your child is drinking a lot. Too much milk can make constipation worse.

Read more  8 weeks pregnant: baby's development, symptoms and your first midwife appointment

3. Exercise: Keep Your Child Moving!

  • Exercise stimulates the bowels and helps maintain health and regular bowel movements.
  • If your child’s body is moving, their bowels are moving as well.
  • Schedule structured or unstructured playtime each day
  • The goal is more than 60 min. per day of movement.

4. Consult with their doctor

  • If your child is severely or chronically constipated, they may need initial medical intervention to get things moving
  • Doctors will often prescribe an enema along with Miralax to help pass the poop.
    • Parents often fear these medications, however, rest assured they are not habit-forming and will help in the long run.
    • Often, children who suffer from constipation have a fear of pain when they poop.
    • By giving medications to soften their poop, it will help them go pain-free and get rid of the fear for future trips to the bathroom.
    • Once the medication is in place to get things moving, initiate a solid diet and exercise routine to prevent future bouts of constipation (as outlined in steps 1-3).

Best foods for constipated kids

Foods that are rich in fiber and those that contain natural laxatives are the best options to help with regularity.

  • Whole grains: whole-wheat pasta and bread, oatmeal, and bran cereal
  • Fruits: raspberries, blackberries, pears, apples, oranges
  • Dried fruits: raisins (contain tartaric acid), prunes (or prune juice) and apricots (which contain sorbitol) are natural laxatives
  • Prune Paste: This is one of my favorites, check out the next section for a link to my recipe!
  • Fruit nectar: these do have added sugars but they work to stimulate the bowels, so use here and there as needed.
  • Nuts: if your child doesn’t have an allergy, add in regular daily servings (be sure not to give whole nuts to kids under 4 years, as they are a choking hazard.)
  • Seeds: poppy seeds, sesame seeds, chia seeds, and flax seeds are all great additions to oatmeal, cereal or smoothies
  • Legumes: kidney beans, black beans, pinto beans, lentils, peas and chickpeas
  • Vegetables: butternut squash, broccoli, artichoke hearts, sugar snap peas, sweet potatoes, carrots & pumpkin
  • Probiotic-Rich Foods: kimchi, kefir, yogurt, pickled cucumbers, tempeh & miso

Recipes for constipated toddlers and kids

There are a lot of recipes floating around for constipation. Most of them are in the form of a smoothie, which is great if your kid likes smoothies. However, I have surprisingly found that many kids I work with, don’t want to drink them!

My favorite recipe for constipation is actually a prune paste. Years ago when I used to manage the kitchen in a senior home, this was one of my go-to recipes for them. Crazy I know, but the elderly and kids are the two groups most affected by constipation.

Prunes work well for constipation since they are natural laxatives. Whole prunes are great for older kids, however, for toddlers and babies, they pose a choking hazard. This is why I love prune paste for all ages!

Prune paste recipe for constipation

Prune paste is easy to make! You can mix it into oatmeal, spread it on toast or add it to baked goods like muffins, pancakes, etc. (use it to replace sugar!)


  • pitted prunes (1 c)
  • Dates (pitted) (1/2 c)
  • Dried raisins (1/2 c)
  • Water (1/2 c)
  • Orange juice (1/2 c)


  • Put water and juice in a bowl and add dried fruit, soak in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.
  • Pour everything into a food processor and blend until smooth.
  • Store paste in the refrigerator for 1 week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Does your child struggle with constipation? It’s always best to get a handle on things sooner rather than later. The longer you wait to get your kid’s bowels moving, the harder it can be.

— Update: 11-03-2023 — found an additional article 9 Home Remedies for Constipation in Toddlers from the website for the keyword toddler constipation natural remedies.

Constipation is a common problem in children. If you have just introduced solid food to your child, then it will take his tummy some time to adjust to that food. Your little tot may not poop for days and if he does, his poop might be too hard. He may even lose his appetite. All these signs indicate constipation. If your child is constipated, you will obviously try to figure out what you can do to make him feel better. If you are considering giving over-the-counter medicines then don’t, because doctors don’t recommend over-the-counter medicines to toddlers. You can always opt for home remedies – home remedies are safe and will provide your child with immediate relief.

9 Natural Remedies for Constipation in Toddlers

Using natural remedies as a first-line treatment is often recommended. So try these home remedies to relieve constipation in toddlers.

1. Give him lemon juice.

Lemon juice works as a great remedy for constipation in babies and toddlers. Lemons are high in Vitamin C, which helps pull water into the gut. When the water content increases in the gut, it helps soften the stools and stimulate bowel movements. Mix the juice of half a lemon in a glass of warm water, add honey to it and give it to your child. Ideally, it should be consumed early in the morning on an empty stomach. Drinking it in the morning will stimulate your child’s bowel movement and help ease constipation. Apart from lemon juice, you can also give prune juice and apple juice to your toddler if he is suffering from constipation.

2. Try triphala.

Triphala, as the name suggests, is a combination of three medicinal herbs. These are amalaki, bibhitaki, and haritaki. Triphala has multiple benefits and it is usually consumed with milk. Add a spoonful of triphala to warm milk and give it to your child before bedtime. It is the best herbal remedy for constipation. This is one of the most popular Indian home remedies for constipation in toddlers.

3. Water is always the best choice!

This may seem like a no-brainer but sometimes parents fail to track whether their children are drinking enough water or not. Water is extremely important for ensuring proper digestion and passage of food through the intestinal tract. Drinking adequate water also prevents stool from being dry. So make sure that your child stays hydrated.

4. How about some honey and flax seeds?

Toddler constipation natural remedies

Honey helps strengthen the immune system and aids the digestive system as well. Add 1-2 spoonfuls of honey to a glass of milk and give it to your child on an empty stomach. Flax seeds too can help treat constipation. Boil some flax seeds in water for some time, then strain and give this water to your child. This will prevent constipation.

5. Let him exercise and take a warm bath.

An absence of physical activity results in digestion problem and reduced metabolism, which furthers the symptoms of constipation. Keeping your toddler busy in some kind of physical activity every day will stimulate his bowel movements. Make sure your child plays outdoors for at least an hour every day. To provide him relief from constipation, you can also give him a warm bath. Add a few spoons of baking soda in his bathwater and let your child relax in it for ten to fifteen minutes.

6. Include fibrous foods in his diet.

Consuming fruits and vegetables that have a substantial amount of fibre in them aids bowel movements. If rice cereal is a part of your child’s diet, replace it with barley cereal. Along with barley cereal, you can also give a fruit juice to your tot, this will provide him relief from constipation. You should also include vegetables like beans, spinach, sweet potato, and broccoli, and fruits like oranges and apricots in your child’s diet to keep constipation at bay. You can also give corn syrup to your child as it contains sugar-based proteins. These proteins also play a key role in stimulating the bowel movements in a child.

7. Give him blackberries.

Blackberry is highly useful in the stimulation of peristaltic movement. These are involuntary movements in the digestive tract that occur in waves and help in pushing the food forward. This helps reset the bowel movement to a regular routine and aid in the passing of poop. Consuming blackberry by diluting it with water on an empty stomach helps in getting the desired result.

8. Give a mixture of banana and hot water.

Toddler constipation natural remedies

This is quite a popular remedy for constipation. Combining banana with hot water, and consuming it first thing in the morning, is known to aid digestion, which in turn, helps relieve the problem of constipation.

9. Milk of magnesia works too!

Many people also use milk of magnesia to treat constipation as it a form of laxative. It primarily functions by pushing water into the intestines, which triggers the bowel movements. But this is used for a short duration only. You can mix a spoonful of the powder with milk and feed it to your child. But try this remedy only after consulting with your child’s paediatrician.

When to Consult a Doctor

If you try a natural remedy for a day or two and it does not show desired results then consult your doctor immediately. Furthermore, if your child is constipated for more than two weeks, seek medical help.


1. How Will You Know That Your Toddler is Constipated?

If your child has a bowel movement fewer than three times a week, then it is a sign of constipation. Some other symptoms of constipation include stomach ache, nausea, loss of appetite, and bloating. If your child cries or screams while pooping, then he might be having a hard time pooping, and no doubt, it is a sign that he is constipated.

2. Should You Administer Enema for Constipation?

If your child has failed to have bowel movements for many days, he must be in pain. In such a situation, you might want to resort to artificial medicines to stimulate his bowel movements. You can administer enema but only after consulting with a doctor. The enema should be administered at night so that it ends up lubricating the area around the rectum and makes the process of passing stools easier. Ideally, coconut oil should be used for enema as it triggers the intestines and stimulates the bowel movement. But enema should be used as a last resort and only after consulting with a doctor. Do NOT try to administer enema to your child on your own and without supervision.

Natural remedies provide relief from constipation and aid digestion. So try these remedies for your child – he will be fine in a couple of days. However, if these remedies fail to work, do consult a doctor. But prevention is always better than cure. So try to prevent constipation by including healthy and fibrous foods in your child’s diet. Also, make sure that he indulges in some kind of physical activity daily and stays hydrated! Take preventive measures and your little one won’t complain of constipation at all!

Also Read:

Dealing with Gas Problems in Toddlers
Loose Motions (Diarrhoea) in Toddlers

— Update: 11-03-2023 — found an additional article Treating Children’s Constipation Naturally: Move Over Miralax from the website for the keyword toddler constipation natural remedies.

Kayla is a bright, round-faced, adorable 3 year-old girl who is having trouble going to the bathroom. She’s often skipping bowel movements for a week at a time, or even more. Like so many kids (and adults!), she gets cranky, uncomfortable, and loses her appetite when she’s constipated. When she finally does poop, it’s painful, to the point that she often avoids going even when she needs to.

Kayla’s pediatrician, like most would, prescribed Miralax for regular daily use, which was working really well. But the parents got concerned after reading a recent New York Times article questioning the safety of Miralax in kids. So they came to me for a consultation.

Miralax: We Give it Like Water

Miralax is the most common medical treatment for children’s constipation. It (or similar generic medications) is recommended by about 75% of pediatricians in the US, according to one study. According to a 2012 New York Times article on Miralax use in kids, one doctor, a pediatrician in Beverly Hills, CA, said, “I’ve had kids on it daily for years” and “We literally give it like water.” The recent article, in January 2015, reiterates the problems.

The New York Times has actually run two articles questioning the safety of pediatric Miralax use in the last two years. The 2012 article also stated, “The way many families use Miralax and its many generic equivalents has strayed far from its original intent. The Food and Drug Administration [FDA] approved the drug for use only by adults, and for only 7 days at a time.”

To date, no long-term studies meeting FDA criteria have ever been conducted on Miralax (or a similar generic product) use in children. Moreover, it has never been approved by the FDA for pediatric use. When it was first approved for adult use by the FDA in 1999, it came with a warning: “Miralax should not be used by children.”

When I was in my medical training, we were in fact, taught that it was basically as safe as water.

Most likely, however, it’s not.

Antifreeze in Our Kids’ Medicine!

In 2012 the Empire State Consumer Project, an environmental consumer action group in New York, petitioned the FDA to more aggressively investigate the use of Miralax in children. Should we be concerned about this medication?

I think so! The FDA admits to years of reports of tremors, tics and obsessive-compulsive behavior in children given laxatives containing PEG 3350, the active ingredient in Miralax. A 2014 FDA investigation into the safety of Miralax discovered that tiny amounts of ethylene glycol (EG) and diethylene glycol (DEG), the main ingredients in antifreeze, were found in all batches of the drug they tested.

Furthermore, an FDA spokesperson admitted that “many of the reported adverse events were classic symptoms of ethylene glycol ingestion.” Some children regularly using Miralax had blood acidity when tested, according to the FDA. This is another known effect of ethylene glycol poisoning.

Read more  Natural remedies for constipation in kids

In spite of this, small amounts of these toxic contaminants are actually considered acceptable in the final product, and are, according to FDA standards, and considered “safe.” However, this is when used in adults, and only for up to 7 days at a time.

There’s still no data on what happens in kids, whose nervous systems are developing well into their teens, when they chronically ingest these toxins.

While a new research group, funded by the FDA, is convening at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia to investigate the safely of these substances in children, it is disturbing that anyone would ever think it’s okay to consciously include antifreeze in a children’s medication – particularly one that is used daily over a long period of time.

So What’s a Mom To Do? Natural Approaches to Children’s Constipation

While I know it works, and a lot of you rely on it, I’d definitely stop using Miralax and similar generic products on a daily basis unless there’s a medical reason to continue using them (i.e., your child gets dangerously impacted without them), reserving them for urgent use only (meaning it’s been a week, no BM, and your child is really uncomfortable). I’d avoid it altogether in very young children, perhaps those under 2 years old, because their nervous systems are still under heavy development. And I’d try natural approaches first.

Constipation can be treated naturally. There is reliable scientific data on both the safety and effectiveness of the tips I’m about to share with you. I’ve used these in practice for 30 years.

But first, what is constipation? Most researchers agree that fewer than 3 bowel movements per week, in a child of any age, is considered constipation. Also, discomfort in passing stool, even with regular BMs, is considered constipation.

If your child is often constipated, and then has a big or loose bowel movement, sometimes in inappropriate places (in clothing, bed – i.e., not in the toilet) then this is called encopresis, and it’s a result of chronic constipation. The loose stools are due to “overflow incontinence” and are not intentional or even controllable.

Some children have very hard stools, and others have very large stools – making them difficult to pass. This is also constipation, even if they have a regular BM.

If your child is chronically constipated, has overflow incontinence, blood in the stool, or regular belly pain and difficulty passing stool, please have an evaluation with your pediatrician before using home remedies. It’s important to make sure everything is in working order, and for older children, to make sure they don’t have inflammatory bowel disease (i.e., Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis).

Many pediatricians will be supportive of trying the following safe and effective remedies once they know everything else is AOK.

Dr. Aviva’s 7 Steps for Treating Children’s Constipation, Naturally

Below is a step-wise approach to safely and naturally treating children’s constipation. You can try each step for a few days, then add in the next, or you can tackle all the steps from the outset.

1. Go Gluten and Dairy Free

Gluten-containing foods and dairy products can both cause constipation in sensitive kids, and this may be the only sign of a food sensitivity. Gas and bloating or belly aches after these foods increase the likelihood that they are a trigger. I always recommend starting any treatment plan for chronic constipation out with a basic elimination diet for 3 weeks to see if there are dietary triggers. See here for how to do a basic elimination diet.

2. Add the Right Foods and Fiber

In addition to taking out the triggers, it’s important to add in good quality fiber in the form of plenty of fresh vegetables in whatever form your child is old enough to tolerate (from purees for little ones to whole forms of veggies for older kids). It’s tough when kids are picky eaters, so head to some mommy blogs or even Martha Stewart for creative recipes.

In addition to fiber from whole food sources, fiber supplements have been shown to be safe and effective for children. Pick just one or two of the options below to use at the same time. Too much fiber can be irritating to the gut, and bulk fiber like flax and chia seeds can glum up in the gut and cause constipation if your child isn’t drinking enough water. Each fiber “dose” should be accompanied by about 4-8 oz of fluid

Glucomannan from the Japanese konjac root, which is available in natural food stores (the dose is 100 mg/kg of child’s body weight, to a max of 5 gm per day, with 50 mL of water), has been shown to be safe and effective in children.

Flax seeds, up to 1 tsp. ground twice daily for children aged 2-7, and up to 1 TBS ground twice daily in children over 7, is an effective bulk laxative that can be mixed into a smoothie, mixed into nut butter and spread on an apple of crackers, or mixed into a 4 oz. of water or juice.

Here’s a great recipe for incorporating flax seeds into your child’s daily diet. The dried fruit is also rich in iron and calcium.

Fruit Balls

Rich in nutrients, fruit balls are a healthy treat for kids of all ages and a great laxative. They are really sticky, so get kids to brush their teeth after eating them to prevent cavities.

  • ½ cup raisins
  • ½ cup prunes
  • ½ cup almonds
  • ½ cup shredded coconut or almond meal
  • ¼ cup flaxseed

To prepare: Slowly grind all ingredients except the coconut or almond meal in a blender or food processor. Add a little water as needed to form a slightly sticky dough. Form into 2-inch balls and roll in the coconut or almond meal. Have fun creating your own variations. Kids love making these, too.

Serving size 1-2 fruit balls, depending on your child’s age. These are sweet so consider them a “treat” or dessert

Chia seed is also mildly laxative. There are some wonderful chia seed puddings online. Chia seed should be used in a ratio of 8 parts liquid to 1 part chia seeds, otherwise it can absorb water from the intestines and add to, not fix, the problem!

Psyllium or plantain seeds can be mixed into smoothies or a small amount of juice, similarly to ground flax seeds.

3. Reduce Stress

There’s a strong connection between stress and our gut health. In some people stress causes constipation. Do your best to identify stressors at school, at home, or in other settings and help your child to resolve these. A variety of mind-body techniques, including biofeedback, have been found to be helpful for children experiencing stress-related constipation.

Abdominal massage can be very relaxing to children, and according to medical literature review, may be helpful in the treatment of childhood constipation. The technique is simply to massage the abdomen in a circular clockwise direction, firmly but comfortably, in a diameter a few inches from the navel, using the palm of the hand, for about 5 minutes. A small amount of massage oil can make the massage strokes easier to perform.

Sometimes the constipation itself leads to a vicious cycle of stress because it hurts to have a bowel movement, so using prebiotics and probiotics as discussed below, and the herbs, is important to also include in your plan.

A fantastic herbal formula for kids with stress is Herb Pharm’s Children’s Herbal.

4. It’s “Potty Time”

A lot of people just get too busy to bother sitting on the can. This happens to adults, and it also happens to kids, especially if the morning routine at home is a big hectic rush, and there’s no time to just sit and S#it! So carve out some potty sitting time for your child, regardless of the age. About 30 minutes after meals is ideal, as it is the natural time for the body to evacuate. Let them sit for a max of 10 minutes. If constipation is a chronic issue, make it a casual time – bring a book, allow for 10 minutes of video watching on an Ipod – whatever it takes. With little kids, let them have their sitting time on the potty while you have yours. You can have a chat and scat.

5. Fix Potty Posture

Squatting is the most natural position for having a BM; sitting upright, as we do on the toilet, is one of the least natural positions! For little kids, switch to a squatting potty like a Baby Bjorn if you don’t already use one; for older kids, purchase a squatty potty type of toilet stool. It allows them to sit on the toilet but have their legs elevated to more of a squatting position. This is great for pregnant moms and constipated adults, too!

6. Have the “Potty Talk”

Our society isn’t the most open about bathroom functions, yet kids in school are still required to raise their hands to get permission to leave class to use the loo. Imagine being at a committee meeting and having to raise your hand to ask permission to go poop! You’d probably hold it. And that’s what tons of kids do in school.

A lot of people also don’t like pooping in public bathrooms – they’re embarrassed by making bodily sounds. So yup, that causes them to hold it, too. Enough holding it and guess what, your body just stops giving you the regular signal and soon you don’t even have the same urge to go. Having regular potty time before and after school can prevent the need to go at school, but helping your kids, from a young age, realize that Everybody Poops and that constipation is common and that holding it can cause it, can go a long way to reducing their embarrassment and their constipation.

If your child has a medical issue with constipation, you can also get special permission for your child to leave the classroom to go without having to raise a hand and make it a public spectacle. Most kind doctors would happily write a bathroom pass note for your child’s teachers – you’re not obligated to provide medical details in the note.

7. Try Safe Herbal and Natural Supplements

In this section are my go-to herbal and natural supplements for constipation in kids. I’ve given you a variety of options to accommodate different ages and food preferences — from teas to smoothies, and of course, the Fruit Balls above. The herbs in this article can be obtained online from Mountain Rose Herbs, and the various remedies can be tried singly, or in combination. Generally, give things each a few consecutive days of use to see if they are working.

A daily probiotic is a must for kids with constipation, and can make an enormous difference. Get a product that ideally contains a blend of Lactobaccilus and Bifidobacterium, species, and give daily. Prebiotics, in the form of fructose oligosaccharide, may be just as important as the probiotic, as they provide the food that the probiotic needs to thrive, and have been shown to lead to healthier, softer stools.

Magnesium citrate is an osmotic laxative – meaning it works the same way as Miralax, by pulling water into the intestines. It is safe in moderation for even young children. A typical dose range is as follows:

  • 1–3 years 65 mg/day
  • 4–8 years 110 mg/day
  • 9–18 years 350 mg/day

I recommend taking it before bed, which will often lead to a soft BM in the morning. It can be purchased in powder form and mixed into a small amount of almond milk or water and taken in a cup with a straw, which is easy for young kids.

Senna is approved by the FDA for children 2 years old and older. It is a strong stimulating laxative so I don’t recommend it for daily use, but it does come in handy in a pinch. To cut down on the belly cramping that sometimes comes along with using senna, use a tea bag combination that contains ginger and fennel seeds, or peppermint leaf. Smooth Move by Traditional Medicinals is a good example of a tea blend you can use. Gaia Herbs Natural Laxative Tea is another.

To prepare: Steep the senna blend tea bag in 1 cup of boiling water as usual, and give 1/8-1/2 cup 1-2 times daily, depending on your child’s age and the extent of the constipation. Expect to see results 5-7 hours after taking the tea.

Herbal Recipe: Slippery Elm Sprinkle (for children 1-3 years old)

Mix 1 tsp. of slippery elm bark powder and 1/8 tsp. of cinnamon powder. Sprinkle onto a small amount of apple sauce, into oatmeal, or into water or a small amount of smoothie. Give twice daily for 2 weeks. Discontinue if this does not result in regular BMs; use up to 3 times per week if effective for your child.

Herbal Recipe: “Smooth-Move” Infusion (for children 1 year old and over)

Slippery elm provides the bulk and moisture that aid elimination while the remaining herbs ease gas to prevent possible cramping. Fennel and licorice are also mildly laxative.

  • 2 tsp. slippery elm powder
  • 1 tsp. fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. licorice root
  • ½ tsp. powdered gingerroot
  • 1 pint boiling water

To prepare: Combine all the herbs in a glass jar. Add the boiling water, cover, steep for 20 minutes, then strain. To use: Dosage is 2 teaspoons for children under two years, 1 to 4 tablespoons for children ages two to seven, and 1/4 to 1/2 cup for older children. This can be repeated twice daily. You should notice results in a few days.  Omit the licorice root in children with adrenal or blood pressure problems.

Herbal Recipe: Cocoa-Licious Smoothie
  • 1 Tbs. organic cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp. ground flaxseed
  • ½ frozen banana
  • 3 frozen organic strawberries
  • 2 TSP coconut oil
  • 1 cup of plain or vanilla almond milk

To prepare: Combine all the ingredients in a blender and mix well. Give 1-2 cups daily. You should notice results in 1-2 hours after drinking the smoothie. This can be taken daily if effective for your child. Coconut milk can be used instead of almond milk if your child doesn’t tolerate nuts. You can vary the fruit as well.

Nature First, Pharma Second

There are many natural approaches to treating uncomplicated children’s constipation, from simple steps like changing the diet and adding in a pre- and probiotic, to massage, biofeedback, and herbal medicines. All have a track record of safety with kids.

In a world already rife with toxic environmental exposures, I’d start there and save Miralax for urgent use only.


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About the Author: Tung Chi