How can you treat your child’s constipation?

by Dulcolax
How can you treat your child's constipation?
Reading Time: 4 minutes
Constipation is a common problem in children, accounting for 3–5 % of paediatric primary care visits and 10– 25 % of paediatric gastroenterology consultations. 1 Constipation in children is more likely to affect those who are sedentary, don’t eat enough fibre, don’t drink enough fluids, take particular medication, or have a medical condition that affects the anus or rectum. 2

Your child may be experiencing constipation if they pass unusually large calibre and/or hard stools, have fewer than three bowel movements per week, or experience pain when passing a stool. 1 Your child could have a swollen abdomen or feel bloated, and some may tell you that they feel like not all of their stool has passed. 3

Besides causing discomfort, constipation can be burdensome to both children and parents and, if left untreated, can cause stool-holding behaviour, faecal impaction, and reduced quality of life. 1 Children with constipation benefit from prompt and thorough treatment to help your child pass soft stools, ideally once a day and without difficulties. 1

What are some of the most common treatments for constipation in children?

  • Diet modifications: Providing sufficient fluids and a fibre-rich diet has been shown to help alleviate constipation by hydrating and improving stool consistency and stimulating the gut for increased bowel movement. 1,2,4 Additionally, limiting the intake of cow’s milk may improve constipation in some children, especially if the intake of cow’s milk is excessive. 1,2,4
  • Education: Your child must understand the importance of not delaying their response to the call to pass a stool, as they can become less responsive when they feel the urge as a result. 1,2 Assisting your child with proper positioning while passing a stool is essential, as is establishing a toileting routine with unhurried access to the toilet. 1,2 Your child might need a break from toilet training, which can improve their constipation. 5
  • Massage: Gently massaging your child’s abdomen may stimulate and relax the muscles that support the bladder and intestines, helping to promote bowel activity. 4,5 Regularly stimulating the pelvic area with light exercises can also help stimulate natural bowel movement. 4,5

If your child still finds no relief and their symptoms last for more than 2 weeks, then it may be necessary for them to go to the doctor and take medication to help them find relief. 3 You should always consult with your doctor before giving medicines to your child, as they will conduct a physical exam and gather a complete medical history of your child to help them inform their clinical decisions. 5 Depending on the circumstances, your child’s doctor may recommend: 5 

  • Over-the-counter fibre supplements or stool softeners: If your child doesn’t get a lot of fibre in their diet, adding an over-the-counter fibre supplement might help. 4 Check with your child’s doctor to determine the correct dose for your child’s age and weight. 5
  • A laxative or enema: If an accumulation of faecal material creates a blockage, your child’s doctor may suggest a laxative or enema to help remove the blockage. 5 You should never give your child a laxative or enema without first checking with your child’s doctor. You also need to follow the instructions on the proper dose correctly. 5

While constipation in children isn’t usually serious, you should take your child to a doctor immediately should they have bleeding from their rectum, blood in their stool, constant pain in their abdomen, vomiting, or weight loss. 2,3.  

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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Tel: (011) 256 3700. MAT-ZA-2400204-1.0-04/2024.

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