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The Best Ways to Keep a Kid's Bowels Regular

by Maggie McCormick, studioD

Though not exactly a topic for polite conversation, regular bowel movements are essential to a child's well-being. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, there is a wide range of what constitutes "regular." Some kids might have a bowel movement multiple times per day, while others might only have one every other day. No matter what schedule your child is on, you want to try to keep things moving freely.


Diet plays an important role in keeping the bowels regular. Too many constipating foods -- fatty, greasy and sugary ones, especially -- tend to give your child problems. The best foods to keep your child regular are those that contain fiber, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Beans, prunes and peaches are delicious and known for keeping things moving. It's fine to have treats like French fries or chocolate occasionally, but your child needs to balance them out with healthier options.


Proper hydration can also help make bowel movements easier to pass. Have your child drink water throughout the day to stay hydrated, though you may want to curb some drinking in the evening to avoid bed-wetting. If things start getting a bit backed up, apple juice can prove to be an effective natural laxative.


A bit of daily exercise can also improve bowel function, according to KidsHealth.org. If you have a backyard, send your kids out there to play while you prepare dinner. Alternatively, a family walk after dinner might be the ticket. Even on days with nasty weather, you can stay moderately active by having a dance party in your own living room.

Time to Go

Some children need to feel comfortable before they can pass their stool. For example, your child might refuse to go anywhere other than your own home or choose to hold it in if a friend is over, even if she really has to go. Unfortunately, holding it in can lead to longer-term constipation problems. You may not want to be a slave to your child's bowel movements, but if you know she usually needs to go in the early afternoon and won't go if you're out and about, plan to stick around the house for a short while, until she's had a chance to do her business.

About the Author

Maggie McCormick is a freelance writer. She lived in Japan for three years teaching preschool to young children and currently lives in Honolulu with her family. She received a B.A. in women's studies from Wellesley College.

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