Children and constipation is a problem frequently experienced by young mums and not often talked about.  Here are some helpful hints that might help you get through this difficult problem.

How prevalent is constipation in young children?

Constipation is when a child has difficulty passing a bowel movement or does not go to the toilet regularly. There is a lot of difference in the firmness and frequency of bowel movements in normal children and it is quite common for babies and young children to experience constipation sometimes.

  • Breastfed babies may have a bowel movement following each feed or only one every seven to ten days.
  • Bottle fed babies and older children will usually have a bowel movement at least every two to three days.
  • Constipation can develop around the time of toilet training or if there has been a painful bowel movement.

The following symptoms may indicate constipation.

  • Intermittent stomach cramps
  • Loss of appetite
  • Irritable behaviour
  • Small splits around the anus or slight bleeding
  • Holding on behaviour to avoid a bowel movement
  • Soiling of pants

If you are concerned about your child’s symptoms, please consult your healthcare professional.


Some children have slow gut movement which causes constipation. Many young children are too busy playing and put off going to the toilet, so setting aside regular, undisturbed visits to the toilet is a good idea. Frequent ‘holding on’ behaviour can worsen the problem as can a change in toilet environment, such as starting day-care or school. Eating a diet low in fibre, not drinking enough water or drinking too much cow’s milk can also cause constipation in some children as well. Reducing the amount of milk, yogurt, cheese and bananas can help relieve constipation in some cases. There are some other rare causes of constipation which your medical practitioner will investigate if necessary.


It’s important for children with constipation to have regular toilet habits. Try sitting them on the toilet for 5 minutes after each meal whether they need to or not. Provide a footstool and a book to make them more comfortable and give them a reward like a sticker or have a reward chart as an incentive.

Ensuring your child has a healthy diet is also necessary for comfortable, regular bowel habits. Make sure you each day you include:

  • Two serves of fruit with peel left on (except citrus and bananas)
  • Three serves of vegetables, raw or cooked
  • Cereals and breads made from whole grains such as oats, quinoa, puffed rice. (Avoid white bread and rice)
  • Drink filtered water throughout the day and a little fresh juice (no soft drinks, tea or coffee)

Infants may require a change of formula to help with constipation and if over six months, an increase in pureed fruits and vegetables is advisable. Prune juice diluted in water may also help. Toddlers may be put on mild laxatives for up to 3 months to repair the damage done to the bowel from constipation. Talk to your healthcare practitioner for advice on which laxative would be best for your child.

Some natural laxatives for toddlers are:

  • Raisins and prunes – place a handful of raisins or prunes in water, leave overnight, strain and have your toddler drink it the next day;
  • 2-3 teaspoons of honey in a glass of milk each morning;
  • Sprinkle ground flaxseeds on toddlers meals;
  • Add a slice of ginger root to hot water, add a teaspoon of honey, allow to cool and drink;
  • Gently massaging the abdominal area can help some constipated infants;
  • Bowen Therapy has been very successful for some infants and toddlers;
  • Bush Flower Essences can help constipation in infants and adults, addressing the fears, anxieties and adaptation to change.
Case Study:

Young C is 51/2 years old and has just started school. She has suffered from constipation ever since she started pre-school at age 3 and now that she has started ‘big school’ she doesn’t have the flexibility to go to toilet at any time of the day. This has caused her to delay toileting, creating further anxiety and worsening the constipation. The parents have tried all the usual treatments from the doctor – laxatives, suppositories, dietary changes – without success. She also wets the bed occasionally and wears pull-ups to bed, just in case.

On first presentation young C was very timid and anxious, not wanting to leave her mother’s lap as she feared some form of invasive treatment.  I explained to the mother that I would be using a gentle Bowen Therapy moves on her child, and after sitting and talking quietly with them, young C allowed me to touch her back and perform the gentle Bowen baby moves to relax her and show her that it didn’t hurt.

After explaining to the mother the advantages of doing the Coccyx procedure on young C, she agreed we would give it a try. With a lot of persuasion and bribery (playing with my flower cards and crystals) she let me perform the Coccyx procedure without too much resistance.  While playing with the Bush Flower Essence cards, we asked young C to pick out her favourite cards and told her that I would make her some fairy drops to help with her constipation and bed-wetting. She chose the following cards:

Philotheca – helps one to ‘let in’ love and accept acknowledgement and praise for their achievements. This will help young C’s shyness and to be open and sharing.

Boronia – helps with any obsession with thoughts, events, things or ideas. Combined with Bottlebrush helps one to ‘let go’, which is what is needed with chronic constipation.

Bottlebrush – helps with the ability to move on, let go and accept life’s changes. This will help the transition to kindergarten.

Bluebell – helps with rigidity and fear of lack. This will assist with trusting that all will be well.

Dog Rose – the remedy for treating fears and when feeling defeated. This will help young C to overcome her fear of going to the toilet, her night bed-wetting and improve her self-esteem.

Green Spider Orchid – helps one to be more receptive to other people and to release nightmares, which young C experiences occasionally.

Boab – this remedy helps to clear enmeshed family patterns, both physical and emotional. As both parents had also suffered from constipation as small children, this was perfect for her.

Normally I would add Red Helmut Orchid to the drops for bed-wetting, but I accepted the choices the child made as right and perfect for her.  I have found that by combining Bowen Therapy with Bush Flower Essences to be extremely effective when treating constipation and bed-wetting in children.

On the second visit, two weeks later, a completely different child entered my clinic. She was happy, looked me directly in the eyes and said ‘hello’. The mother was ecstatic, stating that the day after the first treatment she went to the toilet, passing a normal stool with no pain or anxiety. This continued for one week. As I then went overseas, I was unable to do the 7 day follow-up and she was a little constipated the second week. Young C was happy to tell me that she had stopped wearing pull-ups and hadn’t wet the bed once since seeing me two weeks earlier. The mother was also happy to report that young C was happier going to school, was more communicative and generally a happy five year old. The Bowen relaxation moves and the Coccyx procedure were performed with no resistance from the child.

On the third visit, young C was recovering from a mild virus. This had disrupted her regular bowel movements, possibly due to mild dehydration following the virus. We continued with the Bowen treatment to relax her body and the Coccyx move to help with the constipation.

The next visit young C was having regular bowel movements and was back to her happy self. Mother and child are both very happy with the results.

If your child suffers from constipation, bed-wetting or is having difficulty adapting to change, call Maree at Bowtech Works for a chat and make an appointment.

P: 02 96268705
M: 0412 080051

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