This is an extremely common complaint by the parents of many children. The two main causes of constipation in children are:
Bottle feeding of milk and later other liquids like soup, juices, dals etc.
Children given essentially a liquid diet or diet of miscellaneous food like wafers etc.
This goes to show that almost 80% of children get constipation because of improper diet both qualitative & quantitative. Bottle-feed till the age of 2 - 2 1/2 years is guaranteed to give constipation. Milk is easy to drink through the bottle and the feed is finished rapidly, fills the belly leaving the child a longer time to play. The child obviously has no appetite to eat any food and ends up drinking more milk. There is no incentive for eating, chewing, swallowing of proper solid diet resulting in less fibre, less residue and therefore constipation.
The second group is slightly better, in that, there is no bottle, yet the child is given only a liquid diet that gives inadequate fibre, residue and minimal solid dry hard stool leading to constipation.
The therapy can only be successful when the parents realize that there is no easy way out. The treatment by the pediatric surgeon is of the parents first and then the child. The management is easier said than done - stop bottle feeds, stop only liquids, increase the quantity and the quality of solids. Liquids in the form of milk are to be given only twice a day. Solids at the time of lunch and dinner should be vegetables, salads and dal to drink. In between, fruits are better than wafers and biscuits. Medicines are complimentary to the persistence and perseverance of the parents in enforcing the right diet for their children to get rid of the constipation. The approximate time required for cure is the time from birth till the correct diet is begun!!! The earlier the parents start, the faster will be the cure.