My child hasn't had a bowel movement in two days and the stool was hard when it is passed.  Could he be constipated?


We consider constipation to be when child is having infrequent bowel movements, when it is painful to pass stool, and/or when there is an inability to pass stool after prolong straining.  The normal bowel frequency is highly variable.  Frequently a child will go up to 4 days without a bowel movement.


Infants (younger than 1 year of age):

Add 1 teaspoon of dark karo syrup to bottle at least twice a day may provide relief.  If your infant is breast-fed and you pump breast milk you may add dark karo syrup accordingly.  The next step if infant is older than 4 months is to add baby food with a high fiber content (cereals, peas, peaches, pears, prunes).  You can also offer two ounces of fruit juice.

Children (older than 1 year of age):

 Encourage fruits and vegetable at least three times a day and increase water intake. Fruits that are high in fiber (prunes, peaches, pears, apples, beans, peas, broccoli) are particularly helpful.  Add a daily source of bran to the diet (bran muffins, shredded wheat, graham crackers, oatmeal, high-fiber cookies, brown rice, whole wheat bread, popcorn if child is older than 4 years old).  Moreover, a decrease in more constipating foods such as milk, ice cream, cheese, yogurt may be helpful.  If changes in diet do not seem to improve constipation, you can add 1 teaspoon clear (generic) mineral oil to fluid once a day.

*** We do NOT recommend rectal stimulation unless authorized by our office

When to Call:

  1. Newborn:  if no bowel movement in 4-5 days
  2. Infant or child:  if no bowel movement in 7 days
  3. If there is blood in the stool or tarry black stools
  4. If home care doesn't seem to be working