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Constipation can be defined as hard stool. As much as your child may seem in distress, constipation is rarely an emergency.

Babies less than 6 months of age will commonly grunt, push, strain, become flushed in the face and draw up their legs during bowel movement passage. Your child may also go several days without a bowel movement. This is normal as long as the bowel movement is soft, your child is still eating, and still passing gas.

Here are suggestions of what to do when your child is constipated (hard stool):

  • For children under 4 months of age – children in this age group are not typically constipated but may have infrequent bowel movements.  If the stool is hard you may:
    • Give your child fruit juice (grape, prune, apricot): 1-2oz of juice with 1-2oz of water once or twice a day until passing a soft stool.
    • Please call the office if no improvement in 1-2 days.
  • For children between 4 months and 1 year:
    • Add strained foods with high fiber content including apricots, prunes, peaches, pears, plums, beans, peas or spinach to your child’s diet.
  • For children over 1 year of age:
    • Increase the servings of raw, unpeeled fruits and vegetables to your child’s diet to three times per day. Include prunes, figs, dates, raisins, peaches, pears, lettuce and cabbage.
    • Increase foods high in bran, such as natural cereals, bran flakes, bran muffins, shredded wheat, graham crackers, oatmeal, brown rice and whole wheat bread.
    • Increase your child’s water intake.

When to call the office:

  • Your child is not passing gas, has a large/hard belly, and is vomiting.
  • Stool is bloody or black like tar.
  • Your child is not eating or drinking.
  • You are not seeing any improvement with above recommendations in 48-72 hours.
  • You are concerned about your child’s level of pain.