Children and Digestion
It’s not uncommon for kids – of all ages – to suffer from mild constipation.
From time to time, most kids struggle to pass a large or a hard stool and this can be caused by a number of factors, including:
Delaying a bowel movement: This is one of the most common causes of constipation in children; a child feels the need to go to the loo but because they’re too busy playing, or in an unfamiliar environment they resist the urge. Then the stool gets bigger and, as a result, more difficult for the child to pass.
Having a high fat and a low fibre diet: Children whose diet doesn’t include enough roughage can be more prone to constipation. Fibre has a dual effect, bulking up stools and softening them, helping to keep kids regular. Too many fatty and sugary snacks and a diet overloaded with dairy products can also contribute to constipation.
Not drinking enough: Dehydration, whether it follows an illness or is symptomatic of less than healthy lifestyle choices, can also lead to constipation in children.
Not moving enough: These days kids often have more sedentary lifestyles, with lots of time spent lounging in front of the TV or attached to their electronic gadgets. The digestive system, that relies on regular activity for optimal functioning, can be compromised as a result.
But, don’t worry!
There are lots of simple steps that you can take to help your child to boost their digestive health.
- Serve high-fibre foods - like whole wheat bread, wholegrain breakfast cereals and fruit – more regularly. If you’re starting the day with porridge, you could add a handful of Sunsweet prunes for a sweet and fruity twist. Fresh fruit and dried fruit like prunes, are perfect for snacking and a delicious treat for healthy lunchboxes.
- Although Sunsweet prunes are delicious munched straight from the pack, they can add a nutritious boost to your family’s favourite recipes, too. A handful of prunes added to baked treats – they work particularly well in flapjacks, muffins and cookies – pack a nutritious punch. Sunsweet prune juice can be blended into your favourite smoothie recipes for a fruity fibre boost.
- Water and milk are both healthy options, to increase your kids’ fluid intake. A small glass of natural fruit juice can be a great choice, too, and counts towards their 5-a-day. We’d recommend 75ml as a serving size for kids. For babies – aged six months and over – we’d recommend diluting the juice, especially prune juice. Mix a little with 30 to 60ml of water.
- Make exercise part of your family’s daily routine. Walk the dog, dance along to music videos, wrap up warm and splash in some puddles. The more fun you all have together, the more likely you are to keep up the activity.
- A healthy diet – with lots of fibre and lots of fluid – and an active lifestyle should all help to give your child the natural urge to go to the bathroom. You could try making a note of your child’s natural time to go, too, to get your kids into a regular toilet habit. Make sure that you allow plenty of time, so that they never feel rushed.