My one-year-old is constantly constipated. I offer lots of fruits and veggies with fibre—what else can I do?
Constipation in young kids comes with pain, straining and a distended abdomen, and it’s the most common pain-related ailment I see. The fibre content of fruits and vegetables is not intuitive—for example, pears and apples have more fibre than peaches. Mangos, peas, lentils, beans and dried fruits are all fibre-rich options. Try to use fresh produce as much as possible—fruit and vegetable pouches are hyperconcentrated, so they don’t train children’s palates to enjoy home-cooked food. Also, be sure to offer lots of water—fibre hardens like concrete in the bowel without enough water to push it through.
I also suggest limiting low-fibre grains like rice or wheat cereals, which usually have zero to one gram of fibre per serving—a sure way to back up your baby. Instead, offer whole grains like quinoa, steel-cut oats and brown rice. For some kids, milk and yogurt can be a problem because calcium is binding. After nine to 12 months, children can have cow’s milk, but I don’t recommend giving them more than 16 to 18 ounces a day. Before this, they can have as much formula and breastmilk as they want.
In some cases, when kids are struggling, I suggest trying the laxative polyethylene glycol (Restoralax), which keeps water in the intestines to soften stool.