Constipation in children

Your child may be constipated if:21

  • They have a bowel movement fewer than three times a week
  • Their stools are often large, and/or hard and/or difficult to push out

Common causes include:

  • Eating a diet that’s low in fiber – e.g. fruit, vegetables, cereals21,29
  • Not drinking enough fluids21
  • Emotional stress, such as starting nursery or school21,29

In much rarer cases, constipation may be caused by a medical condition.21If your child is potty trained, soiled pants can be a sign of constipation, as softer stools can leak around hard, constipated stools. Sometimes, constipated children ignore the natural urge to go to the toilet, this is called ‘withholding’. This can make constipation even worse, so it’s important that you get help early. Talk to your doctor if you think your child is constipated.30


If you think your child is constipated, talk to your doctor or pharmacist. If your child is constipated for a long time, it can take longer to get back to normal so it’s important to get things under control.30 In the meantime, simple lifestyle changes may help:21,30

  • Give your child a variety of foods, including plenty of fiber-rich food such as fruit and vegetables
  • Encourage your child to be physically active
  • Make sure your child has plenty to drink
  • Give your child plenty of time to use the toilet, especially while they’re still learning

Constipation is a common condition and there are plenty of treatment options available, but speak to your doctor if you have any concerns.