How to Get Rid of Constipation at Home
You wouldn’t believe how many parents have come to me looking for natural alternatives to Miralax.
Let’s talk about poop! It’s one of the most discussed topics in my office.
Well, for starters – having healthy poops is a problem for most kids at one point or another. And it’s an extremely important area to address. Your child’s poop can tell us a lot about what’s going on in their body, and it plays a critical role in maintaining their overall health.
A lot of mamas walk into my office saying their pediatrician gave them an over-the-counter laxative – most often, Miralax – then sent them on their way.
Parents are then left wondering…
What’s the long-term game plan for my child’s health?
How will we eventually get them off of this?
Is this method even safe?
As a naturopathic pediatrician who helps kids overcome constipation regularly through natural methods, I want you to know you have options for treatment. Better options. And if constipation is preventing your child from reaching their full potential, there needs to be a thought-out plan that includes getting to the root cause and healing this issue for good.
Let’s dive into all things constipation and give you some natural alternatives to Miralax!
What Causes Constipation?
Constipation can be defined as infrequent bowel movements – as little as 3 per week – or having hard poops. (1) It affects up to 30% of children, accounting for an estimated 3-5% of pediatric visits. (2) As a naturopathic pediatrician in the Colorado Springs community, I see kids dealing with some form of constipation nearly every day.
So what causes constipation in kids?
Children holding in their poop or delaying going to the bathroom is the most common cause I see. They usually do this because they…
- feel stressed or scared during potty training.
- are in the car and have to wait.
- are afraid it will hurt.
- just want to keep playing! So they put it off.
Other causes of constipation include:
- not eating enough fiber.
- microbial imbalance or dysbiosis.
- experiencing a change in environment.
- not drinking enough liquids throughout the day.
- certain medications and even getting too much of certain supplements.
It’s often a combination of things that leads a child to become constipated.
Common Signs and Symptoms of Constipation in Children
Maybe something seems off… but you’re not sure if it’s constipation that’s bothering your child or something else. Some symptoms are more obvious than others.
Here are the most common signs of constipation I see in patients:
- Young kids are more irritable or fussy
- Baby is pooping pellets
- Not going poop for days
- Stomach aches
- Expressing discomfort while pooping
- Not feeling hungry
- Urinary tract infections
- Wetting the bed, or even daytime accidents
Signs can show up differently from kiddo to kiddo. I recommend talking with your trusted healthcare provider if you feel something is off with your child.
When Should You See a Naturopathic Pediatrician?
If you see blood in your little one’s poop, reach out to your doctor right away.
I recommend talking to your naturopathic pediatrician if your kiddo is experiencing any kind of symptoms for more than 2 weeks in a row, or if it becomes a frequent problem. You and your doctor can then develop a customized plan to finally get your kiddo going regularly and feeling better.
The Problem with Miralax
Here’s the problem with Miralax – for starters, it’s never been studied in young kids. It’s meant for children and adults ages 17+. Still, some pediatricians prescribe it to kids of all ages.
Miralax also is not meant for long-term treatment. It’s instructed that Miralax be used for no more than 7 days, but many parents come to me saying their child has been using it for much longer. Parents have also reported that their child developed neuropsychiatric problems after using Miralax, which is deeply worrisome. (3)
I want you to know that there are options. Offering Miralax as the only solution – or worse, a long-term solution – for constipation in kids is a huge disservice to families.
As a naturopathic pediatrician, it’s my job to look for the least invasive and most effective form of treatment. I’ve seen natural medicine work miracles for kiddos who’ve long suffered from chronic constipation. I want to share my most trusted natural alternatives to Miralax so you can end the suffering.
My Top Natural alternatives to Miralax for Toddlers and Babies
Let’s dive into the miracles of natural medicine, shall we?
I want to start by telling you my top alternative to Miralax for toddlers. A castor oil pack is typically the first treatment I recommend.
When you apply castor oil to the skin, its main fatty acid, ricinoleic acid, binds to receptors on the muscle cells of your intestinal walls. This then causes the muscles in the intestines to contract and push out poop. Yay!
Babies – less than 2 years old – are too young to use a castor oil pack. For littles, I recommend giving a castor oil tummy massage.
For extensive info on castor oil – how it works in the body, how to use a castor oil pack, how to give a tummy massage, and what brand I recommend – check out this post here.
Home Remedies for Relieving Constipation without Miralax
It’s important to remember that every child is different. What works well for one child may not work for another.
That being said, I’ve seen a handful of home remedies help constipated kiddos tremendously.
Magnesium citrate supplement – Magnesium citrate is an important mineral that supports muscles and nerves in the body. It increases water in the intestines, making it an effective natural laxative. (4) *Dosage is important here. Talk to your primary care provider before administering to your child.
Epsom salt baths – Soaking in an Epsom salt bath may help relax your child’s stomach muscles and soften their poop making it easier to pass. I recommend giving your kiddo a 30-45 minute bath 3-4x per week.
1 Cup Fragrance-free Epsom Salts
½ Cup Baking Soda
2 Drops Lavender Essential Oil
Coconut oil – Coconut is a fibrous food, which means it supports digestion. (5) It also may help cleanse the colon, making it an effective natural laxative. Try feeding your kiddo a tablespoon of coconut oil once a day with their food.
Ginger root – The use of ginger as a digestive aid dates back thousands of years, and for good reason! (6) I recommend making your child warm tea to drink before bed or incorporating ginger into soups.
Talk to your naturopathic pediatrician about the best home remedies for your child.
Powerful Tips to Manage Your Child’s Constipation
I give patients a combination of home remedies and lifestyle tips when developing a customized treatment plan. Again, your child’s needs are individual – but all of these methods can only help, not harm!
Use these tips anytime your child is backed up:
- Add more fiber to their diet. Serve family meals that are filled with vegetables and whole grains.
- Make time for movement. Life is busy! It can be hard for us adults to find time for exercise and our kids are no exception. Make sure your child is moving daily – take a family walk after school or head to the playground.
- Make sure they’re drinking PLENTY of fluids. Drinking water is the best option. If they have trouble with this, serve fruits, raw veggies, and soups to help them reach their daily intake.
- Give them more opportunities. Have them sit on the toilet for 10 minutes in the morning or before bed, just helping them get comfortable there.
- Get a squatty potty! These are designed to put the body into a natural squatting position while on the toilet, which creates an easier pathway for poop to pass. These are excellent for kids. Any stool works just fine, too.
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There Is Hope, Mama
Dealing with constipation can be exhausting for both you and your kiddo. I hope this article was helpful for you so you can try natural alternatives to Miralax at home.
Do you feel like you’ve tried all the things for months, maybe even years, and still constipation is a recurring issue for your child? Are you discouraged when your pediatrician gives “Miralax” as the only solution?
I see you, mama. And I promise you – there IS hope!
It’s my mission to watch your child live up to their full potential!