constipationWow, there are a lot of constipated kids out there. In a recent study, researchers found that having backed up bowels is the most common emergency room diagnosis for kids.

They found that 25 percent of kids who are diagnosed with anything when visiting the ER are diagnosed with plain old constipation. Talk about feeling like a crappy parent when the doctor gives you that news (sorry). But really, it's got to be a shock to find out that something you thought was serious enough to warrant an ER visit was something so basic. 

There's good news though. Constipation rarely warrants any kind of major medical treatment, and you can often treat and prevent constipation on your own with very simple methods. Here are seven natural ways to treat and prevent constipation in kids.

1. Fiber

Even a couple of days with too much macaroni and cheese and too few fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains, can cause problems. Try to work in at least one source of fiber in every meal and limit fiber-free foods like cheese and processed meat. It never hurts to add in a few prunes to their diet either.

2. Hydration

Busy kids don't often stop to drink all of the fluids they need to keep things running regularly. Whether you have to buy fun cups, give them reminders, or employ other tactics, just get them drinking. Fruit juices, like apple, pear, and prune, are good choices in addition to water.

3. Give Them Toilet Time

The Mayo Clinic suggests encouraging children to sit on the toilet for 5-10 minutes within 30 minutes of each meal, every day.

4. Exercise

Getting kids moving physically is often key to getting the bowels moving themselves.

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5. Acupuncture or Acupressure

Some success has been reported using these methods when others don't work. Also just gentle massages of the stomach by mom or dad may help.

6. Probiotics

While there's been some debate as to their effectiveness, some swear by these products that contain "good" bacteria to treat constipation.

7. Warm Baths

These may help relax muscles need to pass the stool.

As for any types of laxatives or other products, consult with your doctor first.

What effective ways have you found to treat constipation in your children?

 

Image via Abulic Monkey/Flickr