Tummy trouble is one of the worst things a child can have. That’s mainly due to the fact that they can’t always describe exactly what’s going on. As a mom of three kids, I have the unfortunate honor of know exactly how upsetting, uncomfortable, and downright painful tummy trouble can be to kids. Over the years, I’ve found ways of easing the trouble. In addition, Dr. Wendy Swanson of Seattle Mama Doc has information and advice on tummy trouble that can help us help our kids when they’re having issues.
*This is a sponsored post as part of an ambassadorship. All opinions are my own and not swayed by outside sources.*
Tummy Trouble – How to Help Your Kids
One of the keys to digestive issues with children is helping them to know how to describe their issue. This time of year, when the holiday food is all around, that’s more important than ever. Just like adults, children can experience tummy issues due to particularly rich foods or eating too much of the yummy stuff that’s on the holiday table. Because of that, we need to ensure that our kids can let us know with at least some specificity what exactly is causing them discomfort.
General Poop Patrol
One of those tummy topics is constipation and other poop issues. Because let’s face it, when you have kids, poop happens, to keep it PG. Here’s what Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson has to say about our kids and helping them describe their poop.
“Poop in the toilet can look like a pond, a snake, a log, or a pebble. When it comes to poop, we’re always looking for snakes. It seems to me that framed this way, school age children can do a better job knowing if they’re constipated or not. We’re looking for Snakes in the Lake, people! Frame it this way with your child and perhaps they will be more likely to get a glimpse of what they produce in the toilet? In my experience, parents worry a lot about hard infant or toddler poop in the diaper but constipation sneaks up on many families to school-aged children. After children are toilet trained and wiping themselves (around age 4 or 5) many parents no longer gaze in the toilet bowl. Long gone are the days of staring at every diaper as parents lose track of the daily poops, how often they poop, and how a child feels when pooping.”
It’s not just the shape or how often that we need to take into consideration. While diarrhea is a straightforward tummy trouble, constipation can be a bit more of a challenge to describe for the kids. Here’s what Dr. Swanson has to say to help with this issue.
“Constipation isn’t entirely straightforward and obvious to many of us either. It’s not just hard poop but rather a combination of hard poop and poop that doesn’t come out every day. The reason a typical child gets constipated is they lack good fiber in their diet, the poop sits in their colon longer than normal, and they hold the poop in because it hurts when it comes out. The viscous cycle of lacking fiber, having tummy pain, not wanting to poop, and poop getting dehydrated in the colon perpetuates and cycles and then constipation can set in.”
Here’s a quick guide on recognizing constipation in children of different ages.
- Infants - Hard, packed stools that come out less often than every other day. Poop can look like pebbles or logs in the diaper and can ever have a very small amount of blood. You can help prevent this by giving babies 1-2 ounces of pear or prune juice daily. Babies over 6 months can be given more high fiber foods like mango, pear, and prune and less foods that can cause constipation like rice, cereals, banana, carrot, and potato.
- Toddlers and Preschoolers - Picky eating can be a cause of constipation related tummy trouble in this age group. Look for kids to have hard, painful, or dry poops that look like logs or pebbles. These will come less often than every 3 days. Increase fruits, veggies, and whole grains to help curtail this.
- School-Aged Children - Over the age of 4, constipation diagnosis requires 2 or more of the following symptoms: one episode of fecal incontinence per week, retentive posturing, painful or hard bowel movements, history of large-diameter stool that may clog the toilet, large fecal mass in the rectum – requires a doctor rectal exam).
Treating Constipation Tummy Trouble with OTC Medications
It is very possible to treat constipation with OTC (Over The Counter) medications. However, there are a few things to remember when doing so. Dr. Swanson has this to say.
“In general I would say that if you use an OTC medication for your child’s constipation for more than 2 times, I think it’s worth seeing the pediatrician. There are often tips we can provide and exam findings that can help guide how to support your child’s pooping habits and help make the process of constipation end faster. If a child has been constipated for months, know that it may take months to correct the problem. Using medications for constipation are not typically a one-time fix. With constipation the muscles in the rectum and colon can stretch out and will need regular poop flying through every day for weeks to months to enable them to return to normal size.”
Be aware that treat constipation tummy trouble should be done with the same amount of care that I’ve mentioned in past KnowYourOTCs posts. Constipation medicines have differing amounts of time you should give them, so don’t use for a longer period of time than the label recommends unless your doctor suggests it. Common ingredients in these medications include polyethylene glycol 3350 and mineral oil, among others. Some of these medications can be used in young children, but always check with your doctor before use unless the label tells you the medicine is age appropriate for your child.