Healthy Bowel Habits For Children

Do you have a gut feeling that all is not going well in your children’s guts? Have you been following their toilet habits and found them to raise a stink (pun intended)? Well, your child must be among the scores of children who report constipation.


“Nearly 40% of school children in India suffer from recurrent bouts of constipation”

What’s normal and what’s not?

How would you as a parent know what could mean constipation among children? Bowel movements could vary greatly with age; evident from the change from infancy to childhood. By the time your child is in preschool, his/her bowel movements will be very close to that of an adult.

So does it boil down to them not using the washroom often? No, about 90% of the children could cleanse their gut every other day. However, painful bowel movements; abdominal pain; a feeling of incomplete evacuation; hard stools; the appearance of blood; and aberrations in growth should definitely not be brushed under the carpet.

So what’s the cause?

A special kind of food which is known by many names such as ready-to-eat, junk, processed among others! All these foods indiscriminately process out the fibre (also many micronutrients in the bargain). The other culprit is children slacking on fluid intake. With the hot sun shining upon, the water and fluid requirements go up even more.

How much fibre does my child need?

The American Heart Association has put forth the fibre recommendations for the children based on their age group.

AgeFibre (grams)
1-3 years19
4-8 years25
9-13 yearsFemale: 26
Male: 31
14-18 yearsFemale: 26
Male: 38

Irrespective of the age group of your child, the fibre recommendations are quite high. Children feasting on burgers, chips, pizzas and consuming less of water are sure to face problems in their bowel movement

What is the solution?

It’s simple, ensure these 2 things: consume a fibre diverse diet comprising of fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, millets, and minimally processed foods and increase fluid consumption.

Our 7 pointer high-fibre food list 

1. Prunes and other dried cousins

Prunes are a rich (and must we say, tasty) source of fibre. The presence of natural sugar sorbitol helps to act as a laxative. Have it fresh or even dried prunes can be chosen. Other dry fruits such as fig, raisins are also good to help irregular bowel movements. Pop them as it is or drizzle over breakfast cereals or best, salads!

2. Pear and fruits with edible skins

Did you know that a pear with skin provides 4.4 grams of fibre whereas its relative, the humble apple with skin provides close to 3.4 grams? All these figures would help you achieve the recommended fibre. Talk of a health target!

3. Broccoli and other stalked veggies

Ok so broccoli is depicted as this mean green with a stalk but if you have to think of your tummy’s wellbeing then this is the green to be-friend. Not only a rich source of fibre, broccoli and its stalked cousin provide you with healing sulphur compounds. Toss them in a salad or even in brown rice preparation (notice: brown rice!) and you will never hear of a tummy ache!

4. Beans and the like

A cup of beans provides you with over 10 grams of fibre. Hence, people fear the flatulence after having rajma or chole. However, they are our tummy’s best buddy. Use them innovatively in rolls, in nachos, in paranthas etc.

5. Whole grains

The word whole itself is a giveaway when talking about the fibre content. Whole foods and grains have the bran layer intact, the storehouse of fibre and also b-complex vitamins. Stock up on them and kiss gut issues bye bye.

6. Flax seeds

Want fibre, vitamins, minerals and the essential omega-3 fatty acid wrapped in 1? Flax seeds are what you are looking for then. They are rich in the soluble fibre lignans which make up for soft stools!

7. Sprouts

Vitamin C, B-complex, and fibre. That’s what sprouts bring to the table. Lightly saute or half boil them and you are good to go.

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