Little girl holding tummy in pain while seated

Uh-oh! Constipation can be a tough tummy problem that many kids deal with, and it can make them and their moms feel frustrated and uncomfortable.

When it comes to childrens’ health, constipation can be a big, annoying issue. It means when your little one has a hard time pooping or doesn't go to the bathroom often enough. It can make them feel grumpy, cause serious health issues in the long run and also worry us moms. Read on as we dive into the world of tummy trouble and constipation in kids, including why it happens, how to spot it, and some helpful tips to keep it at bay or make it better. 

Potty habits vary from child to child. What’s regular in bowel movements for one may not be for the other, and changes are expected as they grow. But when it comes to the common yet tough digestive issue of constipation in children, moms worry, and their little ones feel discomfort, if not pain, all the same. 


What is constipation in children? 

“My child hasn’t pooped in three days. Is this normal?” 

The two factors to look at are usually consistency and frequency of bowel movements, but when it comes to constipation in children, age also matters. 

Bowel movements go down to 1-2 times daily after the first year of life and just once for kids aged 4 and up.1

If a child is noticeably beyond this range and is passing stools that are hard, possibly resembling pellets, constipation may be the source of those tummy aches. 

Other signs include bloating in the abdominal area, passing gas frequently, straining when passing stools, and leaking urine or stool outside of potty time.


Factors that contribute to constipation in children

Digestive system issues for kids often go hand in hand with their nutrition. 

Constipation in children is a common occurrence. 

Later as their diet becomes varied, a lack in water2 and fibrous food such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, may result in forming hard stools. 


Effects of constipation in children

The skin around the rectum may develop minor tears or anal fissures as a result of passing these hard stools⁵. This can be painful for the child as well as distressing for the parent, who sees a bit of blood in the stool.  

A decrease in appetite may result from pain or the fear of pain during toilet time and stomach discomfort, which ultimately has an impact on the child's energy levels and performance throughout daily activities. Some kids may even experience nausea or weight loss.

Even if this tough tummy trouble occurs occasionally, it's crucial to prevent it from happening frequently in order to protect a child's overall health and development. Know that the problem sets in well before the pain starts. 


A look at the digestive system for kids’ everyday health

The main role of the digestive system, for kids and adults alike, is to break down and absorb nutrients from the food that it consumes.  

However, even though a child's digestive system is still developing, it constantly meets the need to break down nutrients like proteins, carbohydrates, and fats into smaller particles that may be used for cell development, repair, and energy production in the body.3

From the mouth, through the oesophagus, food and drinks enter the stomach, where they begin to mix with digestive juices. The required nutrients are then generally absorbed in the small intestine. The remainder travels to the large intestine, where the colon collects water and forms faeces.4

The colon absorbs too much water when the faeces travels through this tract too slowly, which causes the waste to become dry and hard. 


Tips to help prevent constipation in children

What goes in certainly matters for what comes out. Making sure children stay hydrated and including lots of foods that are simple to digest, such as vegetables, in their diet can aid in the development of their digestive systems.

With milk being a significant part of a child’s daily intake, it’s key to look for one made for gentle digestion, especially for kids with sensitive tummies. 

Choose growing-up milk with PHP for easy digestion as well as MFGM and expert level DHA to support brain development. Partially hydrolysed proteins (PHP) are components that are easy on the digestive system. These are tiny particles that are simpler for the body to digest and absorb. 

Lactose is another nutrient that children with tummy troubles may have issues digesting, so it’s helpful to seek out milk with low lactose levels.  


In conclusion

Keep in mind that children's digestive systems are growing and changing as they are. It can be challenging to introduce significant changes to routines and eating habits. 

Because of this, constipation in children frequently occurs during toilet training or when the little one is not yet at ease using the toilet in a public place like a school or when travelling. When a youngster resists the need to use the loo while having the urge, the waste remains in the digestive system for a longer period of time. 

Encourage regular bowel movements and increase their intake of liquids, fibrous food, and other easily digestible foods at this period. 

For concerns such as chronic constipation or other worrying symptoms, don’t hesitate to seek the help of a trusted doctor.


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  1. Toddler Constipation (Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 06/23/2022.) 

  2. Constipation in Children (last updated September 27, 2022). Retrieved on May 18, 2023 from

  3. Your Digestive System & How it Works (last reviewed December 2017). Retrieved on May 18, 2023 from

  4. Constipation (last reviewed November 7, 2019). Retrieved on May 18, 2023 from

  5. Anal Fissures. Last reviewed on 04/12/2023.