Has your child ever suffered from a bad case of constipation?
Have you wondered how to go about managing it naturally instead of opting for over-the-counter fiber drinks or prescription medications?
If so, you’re not alone.
Today, I’m talking about how to manage constipation in children naturally… not just prevent it from happening in the first place. I’ll be talking about three areas to address in order to not only keep constipation from happening, but how to address it in a natural, healthy way if it does happen.
How To Manage Constipation In Children Naturally
Unfortunately, I feel like constipation in kids is something that every parent will go through at one point or another. I know I have!
Before I talk about how to correct this issue, it’s important to know that, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” But, of course, you know that, and I feel that sort of advice is always easier said than done, right? I mean, sometimes you’re doing all the right things and these sort of issues still come up.
Below, I’ll be sharing some things that you can do to prevent constipation in your child, but many of these things can also be used during a bout with constipation as well.
Your Child’s Digestive System Is “Unbalanced”
When it comes to addressing constipation naturally, your best bet is to focus your efforts on bringing the body back into balance by supporting healthy digestion. This will start with diet, then lifestyle, and then dietary supplements if they are needed.
Constipation is a sign of a sluggish digestive system. So what makes the digestive system active as opposed to sluggish? Well, let’s look at three areas of your child’s like where you can make adjustments if needed to better their digestive health. Changes in any of these areas will not only improve their digestive health, but they’ll, most likely, improve other areas of their health as well.
1. What Are They Eating?
In order to have good digestive health, your child needs to be getting plenty of fiber, water, and healthy fats in their diet. Oh, yeah… and some bitter herbs will help too!
Is your child getting plenty of veggies, fruits, and grains? Veggies should comprise the majority of the diet, and they are full of fiber. Fruits and grains also contain fiber, and they should be included in your child’s foods, but not in large amounts.
It can be tough to get kids to drink water, but it’s so very important. The body needs to stay hydrated so it can function properly, and constipation can be a sign that the body is not getting enough water. If your kids are picky about drinking water, there are a few things you can try.
- spa water
- buy them water bottles and make a water drinking chart for them to check off
- herbal electrolyte drinks
- herbal teas
- VERY diluted juice (3/4 water to 1/4 no sugar added juice)
Healthy fats are another area that can sometimes help correct constipation. Butter, coconut oil, grass-fed animal fats (tallow, lard), olive oil and other healthy sorces of vegetable oils are all good sources of healthy fats. Not to mention avocados. Yum! Healthy fats are sometimes used in excess, but when it comes to kids, they need more of them than adults do so if you think this may be an issue, add an extra slab of butter to their veggies or give them extra avocado on their BLT. Fats are easy to sneak into meals.
Bitters are actually considered an herbal supplement, but I’m putting them up here with the dietary modifications because they should be a part of everyone’s diet… unless, of course, you have the best digestion on the planet. Maybe then you can skip the bitters.
Bitters are herbs that taste, well, bitter. Not sour like lemon… bitter. They make your mouth secrete saliva rather than pucker up, and this action is how they help stimulate digestion. Bitters are thought to increase the amounts of digestive enzymes released in the saliva and gut which helps your food to be broken down more resulting in a healthier gut.
Bitters herbs can be eaten as food or they can be taken as a tincture.
When using bitters in your food, they’re mostly used at the beginning of a meal, often raw in salads. Dandelion leaves, yarrow leaves,…. can be added to salad greens. When you bite into them, you’ll taste that bitter flavor all mixed in with the other flavors of your salad. Bitter tinctures, on the other hand, are often taken in a wee bit of water about 15 minutes before or after you eat.
2. Are They Moving?
I know, I know… what kids AREN’T moving, right? Mine are always on the go, but during the winter months, especially, it can be a struggle to get kids to be active. Movement will help digestion by stimulating peristalsis in the intestines which will get things moving.
Does your kid have daily chores they can do in and out of the house? Do they have free time to play that gets them moving? Are their activities they can get involved in or maybe even family outings you can start.
Giving your kids chores is a great way to get them moving. Plus, it teaches them responsibility and helps them feel needed in your family.
Having free time to play outside is better than free time playing indoors as it gets kids moving more. I know this isn’t always possible, but it’s a good idea to encourage it when you can.
As far as family activities go, hiking, biking, and swimming are all great ways to get moving during the summer months. In the colder months, you can still bundle up and go hiking, but you can always go play in the snow or go skating at an indoor skating rink.
3. Do They Need Herbs Or Other Supplements To Help?
So what if you try diet and lifestyle modifications and your kid is still struggling with constipation? There are some herbs and other supplements that you can try.
Salt water in the morning is said to really help get the bowels moving. All it takes for an adult is one quart of pure water and 1 teaspoon of sea salt followed by more liquids, and that is enough to stimulate things in that area. Obviously, you’d want to adjust this amount for your child. The reason this works is that the salt pulls water from the tissues into the bowels which works to get things moving.
Next, try adding herbal fiber into your child’s diet. Psyllium seed, ground flax seed, and chia seeds are all great ways add bulk and fiber, and they’re safe for your little one. My advice would be to purchase these seeds whole and grind a month’s worth of them in a coffee grinder or blender (the VitaMix works wonders grinding things into powder) before storing them in your freezer. You can mix this fiber powder in some orange juice or applesauce to get them to take it. You can even mix it into some breakfast granola or add it to the top of some oatmeal. Purchase this fiber mix ready-made here.
If your kiddo is in desperate need of some help, like right now, you can try coconut oil suppositories depending on the age of your child. Suppositories are safe for all ages, but older kids will most likely not have any interest in things of that nature. Here’s a great post on how to make them yourself.
Herbal laxatives, in my opinion, should be a last resort and only used for older children as they can be too strong for little ones.
Herbal laxatives work by irritating the digestive system which stimulates peristalsis. If too much is used, severe abdominal cramping and diarrhea can result. They are best used when you’ve tried all the above options and nothing else has helped. Also, keep in mind that they are for acute situations and are not for long-term or frequent use.
The first step in managing constipation naturally is to prevent it.
Make sure your child is getting plenty of fiber, water, and healthy fats in their diet. Make sure they’re getting plenty of activity on a daily basis. And if diet and lifestyle changes don’t help the situation, there are some herbal supplements that you can try for relief.