Have you been struggling to fix your picky eater’s constipation? It’s common for picky eaters to be constipated. Often constipation and picky eating work together to create an unhelpful cycle. When a child isn’t pooping regularly, they often feel full and have low appetites which can further exacerbate both their constipation and picky eating habits.
To prevent constipation in picky eaters, you want to increase fluid intake, which softens stool, and fiber intake, which adds bulk and helps with passing. Because of strong food aversions and limited food preferences, it can be challenging to achieve this and find effective solutions for constipated picky eaters.
Why Constipation is Common in Picky Eaters
Diet is one factor that can contribute to constipation in picky eaters. Picky eaters tend not to eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables and often eat more processed food. This results in a diet low in fiber, which can make it difficult to go to the bathroom. Hydration is another dietary factor that can influence constipation.
Diet is not the only cause of constipation, however. Some children may experience slow digestion or even pain while passing a bowel movement that can dissuade them from wanting to poop.
How Many Bowel Movements Should a Child Have?
Before talking about easy solutions for constipated picky eaters, it’s helpful to know what “normal” is when it comes to kids and poop.
A healthy bowel movement for children is not the same for every child. Most children will poop once daily or every other day, but it can be normal for children to experience a bowel movement at least 3 times a week. Healthy stool is relatively soft and easy to pass with no pain or straining during toilet time.
How to Fix Constipation in a Picky Eater
Fruit juices and nectar
Many fruit juices and nectars contain both fiber and sorbitol, a form of sugar that helps pull water in the digestive tract. Nectar is most effective, but apple and prune juices are good alternatives. Try adding nectar to a preferred beverage or smoothie or freezing into popsicles to fix your picky eater’s constipation.
Dried or frozen fruits and vegetables
Fix your picky eater’s constipation by offering dried or frozen fruits and vegetables. Dried and frozen fruits and vegetables are good sources of fiber and can be easier than fresh fruits and vegetables for picky eaters to eat due to a more consistent texture. Once a child is comfortable eating dried or frozen fruits and vegetables, try introducing their fresh counterparts.
Flax + Chia seeds
You can fix your picky eater’s constipation by adding more fiber to their diet. Flax and chia are healthy sources of fat and fiber and are easy to incorporate into many picky eater approved foods such as smoothies, and baked goods like muffins, pancakes, and cookies. Try ground flax and chia if your child is sensitive to texture or the appearance of seeds.
Whole-grain + whole-wheat products
Whole wheat products naturally have more fiber than white, so focus on whole wheat to fix your picky eater’s constipation. Try food chaining if your child has a strong preference for white wheat products.
Incorporating heart-healthy omega-3s like olive oil, flax, and avocado can create a slippery smooth coating that makes it easier for bowel movements to pass. Be careful of highly saturated fat products, as they can cause constipation.
For a natural solution to fix your picky eater’s constipation, try propping your child’s feet on a squatty potty, stool, or even a stack of books. This will put them in a more natural position for a bowel movement to make passing stool easier and also help with straining and pain.
Regularly setting time aside in the morning, night, or after mealtime to encourage your child to use the bathroom can help condition their digestive system for optimal bowel function. Encourage them to sit on the toilet for about 5 minutes around the same time each day, while keeping it light and stress-free. Be careful not to force your child to remain on the toilet until a bowel movement passes.
A light massage can help the digestive tract do its job. Apply firm, but gentle pressure just under the ribcage and work clockwise to promote digestion and lessen gastrointestinal distress.
Probiotics support a healthy digestive system. Try powdered forms that can mix easily in water, drinks, or smoothies or chewable tablets. Yogurt is also a great source of probiotics if it’s one of your child’s preferred foods.
Some children benefit from medical intervention to help relieve constipation. Talk to your child’s doctor before introducing a laxative and to determine what options are best for your child.
It can be challenging to find constipation solutions for picky eaters due to food aversions, limited diets, and distaste for fruits, vegetables, and other high fiber foods. Get creative with foods that you offer them, try to optimize the bathroom environment and timing, and encourage hydration to help relieve constipation in picky eaters.