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Help & Hope for Kids with Digestive Disorders

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  • NASPGHAN North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition
  • NASPGHAN Foundation North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition Foundation
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How Nutrition, Fiber and Fluids Affect Constipation in Infants and Children

Constipation in Newborns

If your newborn is experiencing constipation in their first 12 months, it's important that you follow a diet plan that can help to relieve some of your child's symptoms. Good foods to give your child, and which foods you should avoid feeding your child, differ dependent on age.

Newborns that are between birth and 6 months of age should be given breast milk or infant formula, whereas children between 6 – 8 months can begin to drink sips of water, small amounts of juice, and more, in addition to breast milk and infant formula.

As your child grows, so will their diet. Once your infant is in the 8 to 12-month age range, they will continue to drink formula and breast milk, but more solids can start to be introduced into their diets. Solids include mashed foods, finger foods, and diced table foods.

For more information on newborn constipation, please check out Nutrition for Constipation in the First 12 Months. This fact sheet details important information regarding your child and the ideal diet in their first year.

Fiber for Kids with Constipation

Fiber is an essential part of every child's diet. By maintaining a diet rich in fiber, your child will hopefully be less likely to suffer from severe constipation.

There are two types of fiber, both of which are important to your child's diet. The two types of fiber are soluble and insoluble. Soluble fibers are found in beans, fruit, and oat products. Soluble fibers generally create larger, softer stool. Insoluble fibers can be found in whole-grain products and vegetables. These fibers increase stool bulk.

Daily fiber recommendations vary dependent on your child's age. A good trick to remember how many grams of fiber your child should ingest in a day is your child's age plus 5 grams or 10 grams. 5 grams represents the minimum amount of fiber your child needs on a daily basis whereas 10 grams is the maximum daily fiber your child should consume.

To learn more about fiber-rich foods and how to incorporate more fiber into your child's diet, use our Fluid and Fiber Fact Sheet.

Fluids/Water for Kids with Constipation

In addition to fiber, fluids are a great way to soften stool. While water is the best source, fluids as part of healthy beverages and foods are also beneficial to consume.

It is critical that your child stays well-hydrated throughout each day. As your child gets older, their fluid consumption habits should also grow. This is to say that at 1 to 3-years of age, a child should be drinking 5.5-6 cups of water a day. However, if your child is between the ages of 9 and 13, they should be drinking between 8.5-10.5 cups a day, dependent on their gender.

This fact sheet on Fluid and Fiber will help teach you about appropriate fiber and fluid intake for your child. 

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