Childhood constipation: Triggers and how to avoid them

by Dulcolax
Childhood constipation: Triggers and how to avoid them
Reading Time: 4 minutes
Constipation is a common problem in children and occurs when a child has infrequent bowel movements or hard, drystools. 1 When stool stays too long in the colon, the colon absorbs too much fluid from it, causing it to become hard, dry, and challenging to pass. 2 Fortunately, while there can be several causes for constipation in children, many of them are common and temporary, 1 meaning you can address them relatively quickly to help your child find relief.

What common factors can trigger constipation in children?

Withholding: Children often get constipated from holding in their stool to avoid or delay having a bowel movement. 1,2  The reason for withholding stools is specific to each child, but children can withhold their stools when they have toilet training issues, feel embarrassed to use a public bathroom, do not want their playtime to be interrupted, or fear the toilet and/or having a painful or unpleasant bowel movement. 1-3

  • Fibre-poor diet: Consumption of fast food and diets low in fibre-rich fruits and vegetables are known predisposing factors for constipation in children. 1,3 This commonly occurs when children switch from an all-liquid diet to one that includes solid foods. 1
  • Routine changes: Any changes in your child’s routine, such as travel, can affect their bowel function. 1 This is why children are more likely to experience constipation when they start school outside of the home. 1
  • Allergies: An allergy to cow’s milk or consuming too many dairy products can sometimes lead to constipation. 1
  • Stress: Children are at an increased risk for developing constipation if they experience psychological stress, which can be caused by home-related events (divorce of parents, severe illness in a family member) and school relate events (bullying, poor performance). 1,3
  • Medical conditions and medications: Certain medical conditions can cause constipation in children, and certain medicines and dietary supplements can worsen constipation in children. 2 This is why you must consult a healthcare professional before administering any medications to your child.

Children with constipation can experience a poor health-related quality of life that can affect them physically, socially, emotionally, and academically. 3 This can have significant implications for their future,3 so it’s essential to help them avoid constipation as far as possible.

Some ways that you can help your child avoid constipation include:

  • Fibre-rich diet: High-fibre foods such as fruits, vegetables, beans, whole-grain cereals, and bread can help your child’s body form a soft, bulky stool. 1 You should encourage your child to drink plenty of fluids, with water being the best choice. 1
  • Toilet routine: Regularly set aside time for your child to use the toilet after meals. 1 You can even provide your child with a footstool if necessary so they can be more comfortable and have enough leverage to release a stool.1
  • Kind reminders: Some children can get so busy during their play that they ignore the urge to have a bowel movement. 1 Delays like this can contribute to constipation, as they occur often enough, so kind reminders to your child now and then can be very beneficial. 1
  • Be supportive: Reward your child’s efforts, not just their results. 1 Giving them small rewards like stickers or games for trying to move their bowels can go a long way. 1
  • Consult a doctor: If your child has a medical condition or is taking medication, then it’s possible that they could be experiencing constipation as a result. 1 It’s best to consult with a qualified healthcare professional so that they can review your child’s current condition and suggest alternative medications if necessary. 1

Choose Dulcolax®

Dulcolax® is the world’s No.1 non-prescription laxative brand that works with your child’s body to target where it is needed most. 4,5 Choose freedom from constipation with Dulco®, a range that provides targeted, effective relief from constipation within 15-60 minutes. 5*


* Suppositories work within 15-60 minutes, tablets within 6-12 hours, and powder for oral solution within 24-72 hours

References: 1. Leung AK, Hon KL. Paediatrics: how to manage functional constipation. Drugs Context 2021;10. 2. Mayo Clinic Staff. Constipation in children (Symptoms & causes) [online]. 2021, Sep 18 [cited 2024, Apr 29]. Retrieved from: URL: 3. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Symptoms & Causes of Constipation in Children [online]. 2018, May [cited 2024, Apr 29]. Retrieved from: URL: 4. Wegh CA, Baaleman DF, Tabbers MM, Smidt H, Benninga MA. Nonpharmacologic treatment for children with functional constipation: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Pediatr 2022;240:136-49. 5. Mayo Clinic Staff. Constipation in children (Diagnosis & treatment) [online]. 2021, Sep 18 [cited 2024, Apr 29]. Retrieved from: URL: 6. MAT Q4 2023 value data in Nicholas Hall’s global CHC database DB6. 7. Corsetti M, Landes S, Lange R. Bisacodyl: A review of pharmacology and clinical evidence to guide use in clinical practice in patients with constipation. Neurogastroenterol Motil 2021;33(10):e14123.

[S0] DULCOLAX® 5 mg Suppositories. Each paediatric suppository contains 5 mg bisacodyl. Reg. No. E/11.5/534. [S0] DULCOLAX® Tablets. Each tablet contains 5 mg bisacodyl. Contains sugar. Reg. No. E/11.5/531.For full prescribing information refer to the professional information approved by the medicines regulatory authority. DULCOSOFT® powder for oral solution. 1 sachet contains 10 g macrogol as powder for oral solution. For full prescribing information refer to the instructions for use. 

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