These superfoods can make life a whole lot smoother for kids who just can’t go
Childhood constipation may not get the same air time as sleep regressions or toddler tantrums, but if you’re living with an uncomfortable munchkin whose bowels just won’t move, it’s probably all you can think about. Luckily, there are ingredients in our kitchens that have poop-pushing power and can easily be incorporated into our littles’ diets. As a dietitian, I turn to these delicious ingredients—fiber-rich fruits, seeds, and beans—to offer gentle yet effective constipation relief for kids struggling to use the bathroom.
Before we dive in, remember that boosting your kids’ fiber should be done slowly to avoid overloading their digestive system and causing painful blowouts or embarrassing accidents. Another tip: when you double down on fiber be sure to up their water game, too. This not only prevents dehydration, another cause of constipation, but it helps avoid any additional discomfort.
With that in mind, here are the six problem-solving foods that’ll help get things moving.
If your kiddo is struggling with their bathroom routine, consider giving prunes a try. Famous for their natural laxative effect, prunes contain sorbitol, which helps pull water into the gut to keep things flowing. Sprinkle chopped prunes on yogurt or oatmeal, blend them into smoothies, or whip up a quick-cooking prune compote or jam to spread on toast. Don’t forget that pouches of prune purée can be an easy way to squeeze in a little fiber boost during travel season or when you’re on the go!
2. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are your kids’ trusted digestive ally, boasting 8 grams of fiber in just 2 tbsp. Like prunes, these tiny seeds work their magic by hydrating the digestive tract, making number-twos a breeze. Chia seeds can easily be incorporated into your kids’ diet by baking them into muffins or pancakes, mixing them with breadcrumbs to make a coating for schnitzel, whipping up a delicious chocolate chia pudding, or sprinkling them on warm or cold cereals (mix them with colorful sprinkles to make them more exciting if you have to!).
Yes, beans may make you toot, but that’s exactly because they’re a fiber powerhouse, loaded with vitamins, minerals, and plant-based protein to offer some serious constipation relief for kids. From chickpeas to black, cannellini, and kidney beans, the bean family is super versatile. Bake black beans into brownies, blend chickpeas into hummus, or stuff kidney beans into tacos and burritos. Here’s another helpful tip: Before serving canned beans, give them a thorough rinse under water. This not only removes excess salt but it also washes away some of the gel-like starches that may cause gas.
4. Ground Flaxseed
This little seed is a gentle champion, helping your tot tackle constipation thanks to its soluble fiber, which softens poo and makes it easier to pass. Opt for ground flaxseed over whole flaxseed as it’s easier for little tummies to digest and works even better when they’re backed up. You can get creative and use ground flaxseed as a substitute for breadcrumbs in meatballs or meatloaf, bake it into cookies, or use it as an egg replacement in baked goods.
Pears are a tasty, sweet choice for kids dealing with bathroom struggles, thanks to their fiber and sorbitol content. You can easily incorporate them into your kid’s meals by packing pear slices in their lunchbox, adding chopped pears to yogurt (and a dash of cinnamon for extra yum!), or baking them with coconut oil and blending up a delicious pear sauce.
If your kiddo is having a tough time in the bathroom, you’re in luck because apples offer a double dose of fiber. There’s insoluble fiber from the skin and soluble fiber from the flesh, making them an excellent choice when longing for trips to the loo. And let’s be real, have you ever met a kid who doesn’t adore apples? You can do so much with them: bake them into tasty oatmeal crisps, shred them into apple fritters, or serve apple slices with nut butter for dipping.