The best laxative for kids
Constipation is an unfortunate yet common ailment in young children and babies. The condition is not only painful but may also disrupt your child's sleeping patterns and have an effect on their eating habits. While regular laxatives are expressly formulated for adults, there are a variety of kid-friendly options, like our favorite, Culturelle for Kids' Probiotics for Regularity, which can easily be mixed in with food. As with any medication, it's vital that you carefully read the guidelines before administering a product to your child. If constipation does not resolve -- even with the use of laxatives -- within a few days, a visit to the doctor should be scheduled.
Considerations when choosing laxatives for kids
Bowel habits of babies and children
There are some obvious signs associated with constipation, including straining and very hard stools. Constipation, however, is not always easy to spot. Here are a few guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics to help you determine whether your child may be experiencing constipation:
Infants under six months: Expect your child to produce about two to three bowel movements in a day. Variation occurs, however, depending on the child and method of feeding. Breastfeeding babies may need a change more frequently than those who are bottle-fed.
Babies six months to one-year-old: Babies in this age range typically have two bowel movements in a day. Again, variation is possible.
One- to three-year-olds: Toddlers in this age range typically produce one to three bowel movements in a day. The number may vary according to the child, with some children going less frequently without issue.
Kids over the age of three: A single bowel movement per day is completely normal. The interval may vary from every other day to twice a day, however.
Types of children's laxatives
Choose between oral or rectal laxatives for your child. Oral laxatives are available in pill or liquid form. They are not a quick-acting solution for constipation but are easy to ingest. Rectal laxatives are inserted into the rectum and are designed for fast relief from constipation. Rectal options include enemas and suppositories. Enemas are not suitable for children under two years old.
How to prevent constipation
To avoid regular constipation in your child, consider the following actions:
Include high-fiber foods (e.g., fruits and vegetables) in your child's diet to aid in healthy digestion.
Encourage regular toilet trips to prevent your child from holding in a bowel movement.
Give your child access to plenty of water. A well-hydrated individual will produce softer stools.
Laxatives for children won't cost more than $20. Laxatives made especially for kids are usually slightly more expensive than those formulated for adults.
Q. Are laxatives necessary or will the problem resolve on its own?
A. Laxatives are not always necessary. Constipation may be quickly relieved via a shift in your child's diet. If you're unsure whether laxatives are a suitable solution for your child's issue, speak to your pediatrician or pharmacist.
Q. If my child is constipated, does it mean that something is seriously wrong?
A. Not at all. Constipation is an incredibly common ailment that affects both children and adults. However, if it lasts more than a few days or isn't at all relieved by the use of a laxative, you should speak to a physician.
Laxatives for kids we recommend
Best of the best: Culturelle for Kids' Probiotics for Regularity
Our take: A powdered probiotic that serves as a gentle alternative to true laxatives. A great long-term solution to promote gut health.
What we like: Easy to mix in with food. Doesn't contain milk, gluten, or sugar. Safe for use by children over 12 months. Not known to cause stomach upset.
What we dislike: Not a fast-acting solution.
Best bang for your buck: Mommy's Bliss Baby Constipation Ease
Our take: A formula free of harsh chemicals and drugs at an affordable price point.
What we like: Product is vegan and contains all organic ingredients. Free of synthetic dyes. Very gentle yet effective.
What we dislike: Relief is not instantaneous.
Our take: A solution that provides instant relief to babies and children in pain.
What we like: Fast-acting constipation relief. Gentle formula. A laxative intended to work within minutes.
What we dislike: Must be inserted in the rectum.
Steph Coelho is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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