Illness, nerves, trying new foods—all sorts of things may throw your little one’s digestive system off track and cause constipation or diarrhea. Comfort your kids with safe, gentle, and effective products to help them go, or help them stop. And help keep your kids regular with a healthy diet containing plenty of fiber and water.
Stool Softeners & Laxatives
What they are: Stool softeners and osmotic laxatives are kid-friendly, stimulant-free products that ease constipation—from flavored powders you mix with juice, to chewable tablets, to rectal suppositories.
Why to buy: Stool softeners offer gentle, gradual relief from occasional constipation. Powders with oral docusate sodium also prevent dry, hard stools and generally work in 12 to 72 hours. Most chewable tablets contain the non-stimulant laxative magnesium hydroxide, known as “milk of magnesia,” and take effect in 30minutes to six hours. For more immediate relief, liquid glycerin suppositories are available in easy-to-use disposable applicators.
Things to consider: Ask a doctor before your child uses stool softeners or laxatives if they’re experiencing abdominal pain, nausea, or vomiting; or have a sudden change in bowel habits lasting more than two weeks. These could be symptoms of a more serious condition. Stop using laxatives and stool softeners and consult a doctor if your child has rectal bleeding or still has no bowel movement after use.
What they are: Smaller dosage amounts of most adult anti-diarrheal medicines are safe and effective for children; recommended amounts are usually indicated on the label. Loperamide hydrochloride is the most common active ingredient and is safe for use by children six and older. It’s available in caplets, soft gels, and liquids. Chewable tablets and flavored liquids containing bismuth subsalicylate are safe for children over 12.
Why to buy: Anti-diarrheals help ease stomach discomfort and stop diarrhea symptoms.
Things to consider: Most anti-diarrheal products should not be used in children under six unless directed by a doctor. Children and teenagers who have or are recovering from chicken pox or flu-like symptoms should not use bismuth subsalicylate due to risk of Reye’s syndrome. Remember, when children suffer from diarrhea, they need to drink plenty of fluids. There are many convenient over-the-counter remedies for dehydration including popsicles enhanced with much-needed electrolytes.