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Most of us with little ones have dealt with it at some point or another. Maybe before they’ve learned to walk, maybe not until they were out of diapers, and others maybe not until they were school age, but no matter when it happened, as moms we know the signs. We see their bellies start to bulge out a little more than usual. We realize we haven’t changed a stinky diaper in a while. We notice that they are acting fussier and fussier.
Constipation. But what can we do to fix it?
While there are certainly a wide range of laxatives available on the market today, there are good reasons to avoid most of them. For one, most of them contain less than desirable ingredients that should not be consumed in an ideal world. Then there are side effects: dehydration, upset stomach, electrolyte imbalance, and more. Some laxatives can be habit forming as well.
So what’s a mother to do?
Thankfully there are plenty of natural methods to combat constipation that are effective and safe enough for even the little ones to use. Slippery elm bark is a great herbal remedy to keep on hand for this very reason. Not only can it be used for constipation, but because it is so soothing to the entire digestive tract, it can also be used for general upset stomach and even diarrhea. Licorice root is another great herb that acts as a gentle laxative while calming those upset tummies. The great thing is, when taken in their natural form, there won’t be any negative side effects to these alternatives, and they aren’t habit forming either.
Now, I know what you are thinking: “That’s nice, but my kid doesn’t eat roots or tree bark.”
That’s not a problem. Neither does mine (most of the time that is). Herbal extracts and tinctures are wonderful ways to utilize the healing properties of herbs in a liquid form. The herbs are infused in a liquid, usually water, alcohol, or the go-to for children’s remedies, vegetable glycerin. After a long soaking process, the herbs are strained out, but the properties of the herbs are retained in the liquid. I like to add tinctures for my son directly to his sippy cup. He takes them in plain water, but they can also be hidden easily in juice.
For those of you looking for a ready-made product, Dr. Christopher, one of America’s foremost herbalists, designed a product just for kids that incorporates both slippery elm bark and licorice root, along with a few other select herbs, to help calm the stomach. You can check it out here.
Keep in mind that while slippery elm bark and licorice root are wonderful herbs and can help aid the bowels in elimination, but they do not fix the underlying cause of your child’s constipation. Most cases of constipation are caused by a lack of fiber in the diet. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is the best way to get adequate amounts, as they are filled with fiber.
I know that getting kids to eat their vegetables can be tricky, but blending up fresh fruits and veggies into a smoothie is a great way to get started. I like to add a nice big handful of spinach, kale, and chard to my smoothies that inevitably become my son’s. Because it is naturally sweet, fruit can be another easy way to up fiber intake. Offering a sliced apple with the peel on, a handful of blueberries, or any of their favorite fruits might be just the thing to get their bowels moving and allow your happy, healthy child to return to normal.
What other methods have worked to eliminate constipation in your children?