Constipated Child

By Anonymous
Posted April 11, 2012

My 4-year old son is often constipated. Sometimes he only goes 3 times a week. Is this OK?


Answered: April 19, 2012 by Dr. Sidney Baker

Constipation is a common problem in the Autism360 community.  One out of every seven children in Autism360 reports constipation as an issue, with girls more than boys.

Children should to go to the bathroom every day.  Body rhythm is a basic feature of sleeping, eating, eliminating, circulation and other vital functions.  While each of us is unique in our physical makeup, we all are bound by the strict rules of being in synch starting with the day-night cycle. Bowel movements should normally occur daily and after sleeping and eating.


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What do you recommend for a child with seasonal allergies who also suffers with constipation? All over the counter products just make constipation worse with their drying effects.

Constipation is often one of the first signs of childhood celiac. This was the case with me. I am autistic,and up until the age of ten,I had acute constipation and fecal impaction. I would sometimes go almost two weeks without a BM. I was diagnosed as an adult with celiac of a pediatric phenotype.

how does one achieve normal daily movement for a child with digestive issues?

Oddly, "Dr. Baker" totally failed to answer the question, leaving the parent still in the dark about fixing the problem. Tea of any kind or especially Snapple Peach Ice Tea ends constipation. It has just enough caffeine to fully fix the problem. Ensure the child or adult does not drink any past, say, 7:00 p.m. at night as doing so may create other problems.

Thank you Marie. I will try that with my son!

I have never heard of giving Snapple Peach Ice Tea to end constipation. I would give closer look to the route cause of the constipation most likely diet related or gut dysfunction. Is he on any probiotics or taking any other supplement? Has he always been constipated or did this start recently? Is you son on a special diet, for example if he GFCFSF? I think when posting questions like this about our children we need to be much more specific then the dialogue can really begin.

Dear users, Ask Autism360 is a forum where parents/caretakers choose to share information that could benefit other parents/caretakers seeking options for their children affected by autism. Given that each member of the Autism360 community is touched by this disease, Autism360 asks that we treat each with mutual respect when using Ask Autism360. The Ask Autism360 forum exists for exchange of information and support purposes only and neither Dr. Baker nor any other expert or members of the Website are dispensing medical advice and do not intend any of the information to be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. The Ask Autism360 forum is not intended to be relied upon nor intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider regarding any medical condition. Please read Autism360's Terms and Conditions of Use. Thank you.

Right now I am having the same problem. I have purchased the brand Traditional Medicinals Organic tea named Smooth Move. I hope it works! I will let you know. My son is on the Gluten Free Casein Free diet also on the Feingold diet. He has had serial ear infections that with antibiotics messed up his natural flora giving him a yeast infection. The result of the yeast infection is it impacts his stools. It has slowed his BM and the last time that occurred he ended up in the hospital with impacted stools. Everything was exploding all over the place. It was horrible. Now we are trying to keep ahead if the game. I am frightened and hope the tea will work as plums are a no no on his Feingold diet. I also give him probitiocs and for the yeast trying to give him Saccharomyces Boulaardii. Klaire Labs sell those.

I'm an adult w/ aspergers with a 13yr old HF autistc son. I want to add my thoughts to this thread because both my son and I were retentive as young children. My poor mother was constantly under the impression that I was constipated and poured numerous remedies down my throat over the years. I outgrew it by age 6 or 7, in part because it became problematic to be retentive at school and in part because I came to learn that it was unhealthy for my body, so I simply stopped. When I became the mother of another retentive, my own experience became my ammunition and I simply appealed to his overdeveloped sense of logic and explained that he needed to grow a healthy body, and this was not a healthy thing to do. It took repeating a few times and one trip to the ER w/ killer cramps from an "almost" impaction. He's been as regular as any NT child ever since. I'm not at all suggesting that this is the case for others. I have no idea if it is common among the autistic population or not. It's not exactly dinner conversation, so I've never asked another adult, "Hey, did you intentionally withhold bowel movements as a kid?". I just wanted to throw that out there as something to consider. One word of warning however. If your constipation prone child should develop diarrhea for any reason, do not give them an anti-diarrheal (kaopectate, immodium, etc.) as one dose is likely to throw things back the other way! We learned the hard way! As unpleasant as diarrhea can be, it's probably safer to ride it out and treat it with diet only.

I highly recommend the Traditional Medicines Smooth Move (Chocolate tastes great) tea that's mentioned above. It contains the herb senna leaf. I dose it down for my son and only give it to him occasionally when I know he's uncomfortable. (Laxatives shouldn't be used all the time or you may become dependent on them. I also remember reading about weakened adrenals...) But when I'm desperate it always works. It's great to keep on hand because of the long shelf life. With a little xylitol or stevia your child will think it's a treat!

The use of magnesium citrate can resolve constipation with the goal of achieving a stool that is easy to eliminate and avoids diarrhea. The other effects of magnesium is neurologically calming, reduces stims, irritability, hyperactivity, cramps and headaches.

I find that giving digestive enzymes and probiotics daily with food helps a lot. My homeopath also suggested adding omega oils always with food. Another solution is to take curcumin pill daily.

I appreciate the reminder about respect on this forum. We all have enough challenges without challenging one another. As stated above, and in my experience, dairy and lack of good magnesium can be causes of constipation. Loss of joint function (mobility) in the spine can also have a powerful constipating effect. Skillful chiropractic spinal manipulation can have remarkable effects in some.

Dear Mommynos, Thank you for your comments and advice. However constipation originates, it risks becoming a vicious cycle. You will hear more about vicious cycles as we move through future questions, but the main point is that the biochemistry, immunology, and toxicology of autism (and all chronic illness) is full of vicious cycles. The bad thing is that they are stubborn. The good thing is that when they are kicked they can return to the virtuous cycles from which constitute a healthy system and from which they descended. Retention is an act of will. The development of will in children as in soldiers if favored by battle. Parents do well to avoid fighting battles on a child’s turf. That turf consists in swallowing and pooping in 3-5 year-olds. They own it and they know they own it – even to the point of starting a “fight” to test the limits of parental authority. An authority, that is, one hopes, being exercised in the “don’t run out in the street” realm and other issues having to do with safety and civility. Some children who decide to never poop again – voluntarily – do so when their parents offer them too many choices. I did so with the notion that practicing on little decisions would help my children become better deciders as they matured. Wrong! It turns out that there is no such thing as a little decision. “Do you want your red sweater or your green one today?” A four-year-old suspects there might be a right answer just as your friend or spouse worries that there may be a right or wrong answer to “What do you want to watch on TV?” A retentive child will often respond quickly to an announcement that there has been a coup in the family government and that from now on all decisions other than swallowing and pooping are at parental discretion. Not that a child cannot volunteer a preference for the green sweater. She just cannot be asked to choose. Your comment emphasizes the voluntary aspect of retention that may come from many kinds of discomfort (anal fissure) and fears (that’s part of me you are going to throw away.) I take my hat off to you for being able to break the vicious cycle by your own wits and to help your child do the same, presumably with some help from magnesium and fiber. SMB

My son was constipated considerably as a baby. He outgrew this when his diet became bulkier. He is Asperger's and is quite fussy about his bathroom habits, but like the smart mother above who suggested simply informing your child that having bowel movements daily is an important part of the body's healthy function is far better than artificially inducing a bowel movement. Still, I would never give an autistic person a stimulant which can increase anxiety. Instead it is safe to give a bulking agent (fiber- your choice) or a stool softening agent (again, your choice). However might I suggest natural things like a salad? Cruciferous veggies? Some prunes? I've found if I don't call them prunes which sounds icky and old -person-ish and call them dried plums instead, they're eaten without hesitation. Warm prune juice is sweet, yummy and practically guarantees movement. Staying hydrated (with WATER), skipping on some dairy, and being sure to have enough minerals (calcium. In soy, other forms of "milks", spinach, etc) are also helpful. No "binders" like bananas, rice, potatoes, applesauce. Add some vigorous exercise. Also, people do NOT need to go every day. It's better for your kids if they are as part of growing- but it's not going to stunt them if they don't. A vetted pediatrician will only get worried after 6 days or so with infants. Your intestines, even as a child, are incredibly long. Sure it's TMI but my 9 year old's BM's are and have been bigger than mine and we eat the same stuff for the most part. Rule of thumb- don't eat out of boxes (if it's in a box, skip it) and you'll be a healthier, more regular person.

For constipation in my 6 year old...his doctor recommended him eating an activia yogurt everyday. He has been struggling with constipation for years. He religiously goes now each day one to two hours after eating his yogurt. It was a better option for me than trying to make a 6 year old swallow some oil supplement. TRY IT parents!! :)

It took us a long time to figure this out, but the answer is simple: enema. You gotta learn how to give the little one a small enema every now and then.

For constipation we have been using live kefir grains (not the powder version) with raw goat milk and SCD yogurt again using raw goat milk and it works, he goes within 1 hour!! Its just amazing stuff all natural, probiotic and cheaper than purchasing loads of probiotic pills.

I agree with the above posts that probiotics, magnesium citrate, and elimination of dairy can really help. I also focus on a healthy diet with lots of fruits and veggies. Now that I've implemented these changes and my little one is having a daily BM the change is wonderful... better sleep, more engaged, no sensory issues, and overall so much more like a neurotypical kid :o)

Usually they hate the act hence try to refrain from it even if they get an urge, you should be watchful to know their urge and prompt them to pass the stool at that very moment which has given us a very good result. Also initially one can fix the an appropriate time for the act and stick to it so that the child is aware of the slot where he has to perform his act.