Let's talk about poop.
OK, so it's not everyone's favorite topic, but as a dietitian I discuss it - oftentimes in great detail - with almost all of my clients. Constipation is a common problem for many young children, and when kids are constipated (which oftentimes makes them uncomfortable), finding a fix can be frustrating. We will go into more detail about what defines constipation, what can cause or affect it, and what we recommend our clients do with chronically constipated kiddos in a future post. For now, let's talk about one way to remedy it.
Enter: the Sweet Berry Constipation Smoothie.
You probably know that "p" fruits like prunes, pears, plums and peaches are helpful for constipation. Many of our clients use apple juice or prune juice (4 oz diluted with water) to help things move along. Sometimes, however, kids are sick of juice or won't eat "p" fruits. That's why offering a tasty smoothie - or putting it into a popsicle - can help.
Changing your child's diet overall can help with constipation as well. Check out our toddler course for more info on transitioning to a more balanced diet.
I'll be honest...it was really hard to create this recipe. I hate prunes. They taste like raisins to me...and you may know what I feel about raisins. I wanted to include prunes and apple juice - which make a very sweet, overwhelming flavor in my opinion - while keeping the smoothie tasty for kids who are resistant to consuming these foods.
Enter blueberries and strawberries. Kids love them, they're full of nutrients, most parents have them on hand, and I notice that many of my clients find that blueberries help with constipation (bonus). Strawberries are just dang delicious, so let's throw those in there too.
Aside from prunes and apple juice, we also included other ingredients that may help with constipation:
Kefir: kefir is a cultured milk drink that contains more live and biodiverse bacteria than traditional yogurt. It also colonizes more effectively in the gastrointestinal tract than yogurt and may help rebalance gut flora if that's what is causing constipation.. It has a sour flavor like unsweetened yogurt. If your child is dairy-free, use an unsweetened Greek dairy-free yogurt like Kite Hill brand.
Chia seeds: chia is high in soluble fiber, which helps soften stool. (Insoluble fiber, found in whole grains and vegetables, is important for bulking up stool, but if not consumed with enough soluble fiber a child may still be constipated.)
Coconut oil: many parents notice that adding coconut oil to their tot's diet can help ease constipation. It's unclear if the medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil help get things moving, or if the oil itself has another property that aids digestion.
Dates and blueberries: I have noticed that many of my clients find relief from constipation when eating dates (like in the form of Lara bars) and blueberries. Kids also like how these foods taste, and they balance the flavor of the apple juice and prunes.
We also added hemp hearts for extra nutrition and strawberries/cinnamon for flavor. Make sure to taste the smoothie as you create it and modify it per your taste. We like the addition of cinnamon in balancing out the apple flavor, but you can omit it if you want to.
My kids and I tasted various iterations of this smoothie as we experimented, and let's just say this...even though we don't have "going" issues in our house, this smoothie was effective within a few hours for everyone :)
Please note: this is one suggestion for occasional constipation. This recipe does not replace specific medical advice geared toward your individual child. If your child continues to struggle with constipation, please make an appointment with your pediatrician and a pediatric dietitian.
Sweet Berry Constipation Smoothie
We hope that this recipe helps get things moving! Good luck!
Megan and Judy, co-owners of Feeding Littles, bring you helpful info on food, nutrition, picky eating, and feeding young children. Megan McNamee MPH, RDN is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist based in Scottsdale, Arizona. Judy Delaware, OTR/L is an Occupational Therapist specializing in feeding therapy with children 3 and under in Boulder, Colorado. Megan and Judy are both moms of two and love helping families develop a healthy appetite for all foods!