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A child suffering from constipation is a fairly common phenomenon. The ailment is a common occurrence in children of all ages and can happen due to various factors. Almost 29.6% of children suffer from constipation, mostly during the period of toilet training. However, we need to understand, that the longer a child suffers from constipation, the harder it gets to deal with it. A child can suffer from physiological and behavioral problems.
According to reports, the prevalence of constipation is found most frequently in children aged 2-4 years. This is around the same time children are toilet trained. Constipation peaks again during adolescence, mostly due to unhealthy eating habits.
It is essential that we understand what triggers a bout of constipation in a child. For example, children who have trouble in toilet training are more likely to suffer from constipation. A rushed morning routine or a quick use of a school toilet leads to incomplete evacuation of bowels. Holding stools, improper food, and decreased fluid intake also lead to a child suffering from constipation.
Monitoring a Child’s Stool
Parents should monitor a child’s stool regime. If a child is showing signs of difficulty in passing regular bowel movements, parents can maintain a diary which has details such as frequency, texture, appearance, etc. Parents can also note details such as signs of pain or discomfort, fecal incontinence, or retentive posture. The frequency of bowel movements depends on a child’s age. Infants may pass stool up to 4 times a day and by the age of 4 years, most children have control over the sphincter and pass stool around 1-2 times a day.
Toilet Training and Exercise
Children should not be toiled trained before the age of 24 months. Training can occur between the ages of 3-4 years. Toilet training should be undertaken by one person and should have a fixed routine. In case of constipation, a child should be made to sit in the toilet 2-3 times a day after meals. Physical activity also goes a long way in helping a child achieve great digestive and overall health. Basic exercises like running, walking, frog-squats, etc. help children in stretching their pelvic muscles.
It is very important for a child to have a healthy, balanced diet. The child’s diet should include all major food groups, particularly vegetables, fruits, cereals, whole pulses, etc. Children should also have lots of fluids, especially water. Younger children should not be given excessive milk and should consume semi-solids and solids.
Children should also be encouraged to follow a fixed routine when it comes to eating meals. They should not be rushed to finish a meal and should be given adequate time to enjoy meals at leisure. School-going children should be served breakfast early so that they have enough time for a bowel movement before going to school. If the child still shows symptoms of discomfort due to constipation, parents should consult a doctor to better manage the ailment.
A healthy digestive system is of paramount importance for a healthy body. It is therefore important for a child to have a healthy digestive system, as a healthy gut leads to great physical and mental development.