Treatment for Constipation in Children

How can I treat my child’s constipation?

You can most often treat your child’s constipation at home by doing the following:

Change what your child eats and drinks

Changing what your child eats and drinks may make his or her stools softer and easier to pass. To help relieve symptoms, have him or her

  • eat more high-fiber foods
  • drink plenty of water and other liquids if your child eats more fiber

Read about what your child should eat and drink to help relieve constipation.

A girl drinks water from a glass.
Have your child drink plenty of water and other liquids to help prevent constipation.

Change your child’s behavior

Changing your child’s bowel movement patterns and behaviors may help treat constipation.

  • Ask your potty-trained child to use the toilet after meals to build a routine.
  • Use a reward system when your child uses the bathroom regularly.
  • Take a break from potty training until the constipation stops.

How do doctors treat constipation in children?

Your child’s doctor may recommend giving your child an enema or laxative to help treat his or her constipation. Most laxatives are over-the-counter medicines taken by mouth until your child’s bowel movements are normal. Your child’s doctor may recommend stopping the laxative once your child has better eating and bowel habits. You should not give a child a laxative unless told to do so by a doctor.

If your child is taking an over-the-counter or prescription medicine or supplement that can cause constipation, your child’s doctor may recommend stopping it, changing the dose, or switching to a different one. Talk with your child’s doctor before stopping any medicines.

How can I treat my child’s constipation complication?

Your doctor may recommend treating your child’s hemorrhoids or anal fissures by

  • making changes in his or her diet to prevent constipation
  • using an over-the-counter enema or laxative suggested by your child’s doctor
  • having him or her take warm tub baths to soothe the area
A boy smiles in a bathroom with an open toilet in the background.
Changing your child’s bowel movement patterns and behaviors may help treat constipation.

How do doctors treat the complications of constipation in children?

Doctors may be able to treat complications of constipation in children during an office visit. Your child’s doctor may recommend at-home treatments, too.

For a child age 2 or older, your doctor may recommend giving mineral oil. Your child will take the mineral oil by mouth or through an enema.

Your child’s doctor may be able to treat rectal prolapse during an office visit by manually pushing the rectum back through the child’s anus. Helping a child prevent constipation is the best way to prevent rectal prolapse.

How can I prevent my child from becoming constipated?

You can help prevent constipation in your child with the same things that treat constipation

  • provide enough fiber in your child’s diet
  • have your child drink plenty of water and other liquids
  • make having a bowel movement part of your child’s routine

Learn more about how you can help prevent constipation in your child by changing what he or she eats and drinks.

May 2018
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This content is provided as a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health. The NIDDK translates and disseminates research findings through its clearinghouses and education programs to increase knowledge and understanding about health and disease among patients, health professionals, and the public. Content produced by the NIDDK is carefully reviewed by NIDDK scientists and other experts.