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Ease Your Child’s Constipation… Even When You’re Not Around

by on 14/08/2015 2516

Just another Monday – you’re struggling to get dressed for work and trying to make sure your child has everything he needs while at the nanny’s or day-care. After fighting through traffic, you give your child a goodbye kiss and heave a sigh of relief that he’s well looked after while you’re at the office.

 

If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone.

 

However, when children are left in the daily care of others, it can be easy to miss the warning signs of constipation, like infrequent bowel movement or straining while trying to poo. Under such circumstances, your child could be suffering from constipation and you may not know it.

 

As constipation is often linked to factors such as lack of water, fruits and vegetables, it’s important for moms to be aware of your child’s eating habits and quality of his or her diet while at the nanny’s or day-care, including the amount of milk or water your child consumes.

 


How Can I Ease My Child’s Constipation?


There’s no doubt that nannies and day-cares are a necessity for working moms like you, but you can work together with them to ensure that your child consumes a balanced diet with sufficient water, fruits and vegetables while under their care.


Based on the Malaysian Dietary Guidelines for Children and Adolescents[i]:

-  Children from 3-6 years old should consume 2 servings of fruits and 2 servings of vegetables daily

-  Children between 2-3 years old should drink 1-2 glasses of plain water per day while children above 4 years should consume 6-8 glasses per day.

 

With these recommendations in mind, here are a few things which you can suggest to them:


Introduce foods that are high in fibre and taste naturally sweet: Picky eaters or children who dislike eating vegetables may be more agreeable with sweeter foods such as carrots, sweet potatoes and corn which are high in fibre. To encourage your child to eat, present the vegetables in a fun way; for example, cut carrots into different shapes like ‘flowers’ and make a smiley face with mashed potatoes and cherry tomatoes.

 

Provide fruity snacks everyday: To ensure your child eats sufficient fruits on a daily basis, pack a variety of fruits into ziplock bags and label them with cute characters and your child’s name e.g. a banana with a ‘Banana in Pyjamas’ sticker on the bag. Give these to your nanny or day-care daily, so that they can give to your child as healthy snacks.

 

Plan for regular toilet/water consumption times: Scheduled water or toilet breaks may sound rigid, but it’s the best way to ensure your child stays hydrated and goes to the toilet regularly. Check with your nanny about natural breaks in your child’s routine, such as before and after his favourite cartoon programme. Also, to help keep track of how much water your child consumes by checking his drinking bottle when you pick him up in the evening.   

 

Give your child food that contains probiotics: Research has shown that probiotics such as fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) and galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) can help promote softer stools for easier bowel movement[ii]. Prebiotics also help to support good bacteria in the gut, which in turn helps to maintain a good intestinal environment so your child experiences fewer digestive discomforts such as constipation.[iii]

 

Small changes can bring big results with time, so it’s important to continue working with your nanny or day-care to ensure your child is eating (and drinking) well for better gut health.

 



This educational article is brought to you by nutritionist Dr Koh Chu Sing, to raise awareness on better nutrition and well-rounded health amongst children.

 




[i] Malaysian Dietary Guidelines for Children and Adolescents, NCCFN (2013)

[ii] Moro G et al. Dosage-related bifidogenic effects of galacto- and fructooligosaccharides in formula-fed term infants.
J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2002 Mar;34(3):291-5.

[iii] Bischoff. BMC Medicine. ‘Gut Health’: a new objective in medicine?; 9:24 (2011)