Constipation is extremely common among children. It’s the number-one source of belly pain for kids! Here’s something else that might really surprise you: Constipation can be a hidden cause of bedwetting.

If you don’t think your child is constipated, you might want to think again, says Steve Hodges, MD, a pediatric urologist and co-author of the book It’s No Accident. “The most common misconception is that if your child poops every day or every other day, he’s not constipated,” says Hodges. He and co-author Suzanne Schlosberg are on a mission to educate parents about kids and constipation–not only because it’s so common, but also because it’s such a commonly overlooked cause of bedwetting, urinary tract infections, and other potty problems. On a personal note, reading It’s No Accident two years ago was a lightbulb moment for me, because I realized my younger son’s bedwetting was likely due to constipation–something I’d never considered before. Once I resolved the constipation, the bedwetting stopped.

Here are 12 signs your child is constipated. Do any of these sound familiar?

12 Signs Your Child is Constipated

So what causes constipation in kids? According to Dr. Hodges:

  • The typical Western diet (especially one that includes a lot of “kid food” like chicken nuggets, pizza, and mac-n-cheese) is seriously lacking in fiber. As a result, poop becomes firm and painful to push out.
  • Potty training can also trigger constipation. Young kids don’t understand that they need to go when they feel the urge–instead, they learn how to “hold it” until it’s an emergency (or their parents make them go).
  • Holding can get even worse when kids go to school and may have limited access to the bathroom or simply be too afraid or shy to use it. All that holding can lead to a clogged system.
  • Lack of exercise.

How does constipation lead to bedwetting? When kids are constipated, their intestines can become packed with stool. The bladder ends up getting squeezed out of the way and not able to hold as much urine, says Dr. Hodges. Enlarged intestines can also irritate the nerves that control the bladder, leading to bladder contractions (and accidents).

What should you do for a constipated kid? “The key is to get ahead of the constipation,” says Dr. Hodges. “Get the poop soft again so they don’t develop the habit of holding. And get rid of the backed-up poop that they haven’t emptied.” He recommends: 

  • A serious intestinal clean-out, usually with MiraLAX (or the generic equivalent). Unlike other kinds of laxatives, you can use MiraLAX long-term. It’s easily mixed into liquid and is tasteless. Dr. Hodges provides guidelines and dosing suggestions in his book It’s No Accident.
  • Asking your child to sit on the toilet for five minutes after breakfast and dinner (the reflex for emptying the bowels is usually strongest in the morning)
  • Getting more fiber in the diet (see below).

What are the best foods to ease constipation? Kids’ diets should include lots of foods that are naturally rich in fiber to help keep poop soft. Whole grains, nuts and seeds, and beans are high in fiber. Fruits and vegetables are especially great because they’re high in fiber AND fluid–and fluid is vital for keeping stool moving through the system.

Some high-fiber fruits and veggies include:

  • Berries
  • Pears & apples (with the skin)
  • Bananas
  • Oranges
  • Spinach
  • Brussles sprouts
  • Potatoes (with the skin)
  • Broccoli

For a free download of the chart above–plus a kid-friendly, illustrated “poop chart” to help you and your kids keep tabs–go here.

To learn more about this issue, the book, and the authors, visit their website.



{Recipe} Real Simple Blueberry Jam

by Sally on July 28, 2014

Real Simple Blueberry Jam

Blueberries are, hands-down, my favorite fruit. To me, it’s not really summer until I’ve picked many, many pounds at a local farm–then eaten so many that I get a stomachache.

Real Simple Blueberry Jam

Still, I usually end up with leftovers. So I make muffins, pancakes, and fruit leathers and tuck a few bags away for the winter.

I also love making this easy blueberry jam. It comes from the pages of Real Simple magazine. True to the name, it’s both real and simple: just blueberries, lemon juice, sugar, and salt.

Real Simple Blueberry Jam

Obviously, this jam is amazing as a spread. But isn’t in beautiful swirled into homemade vanilla ice cream too?

Real Simple Blueberry Jam

Blueberry Jam
  • 5 cups blueberries
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the blueberries, sugar, lemon juice, and salt. Mash with a potato masher or wooden spoon until the berries have released their juices.
  2. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally (*I recommend frequently*), until the mixture has thickened, 18 to 25 minutes.
  3. Transfer to containers and refrigerate for up to 1 month or freeze for up to 1 year.

*I’ve also halved it using 2 1/2 cups of blueberries and it’s turned out great. Enjoy!

Go here for more recipes from Real Simple magazine.


Why I Love My Old-School Recipe Book

July 23, 2014

Did you have a scrapbook as a child? I did. In the pages of mine are ticket stubs to U2 and Depeche Mode concerts, photos from church camp, and dried corsages from high school homecoming dances. I don’t know if kids today keep scrapbooks (at least the paper kind) but I’m so thankful for mine. It’s like a roadmap […]

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Why I Don’t Stress Out About Salt

July 21, 2014

I love salt. I lick it from my fingers after eating popcorn and regularly make a second pass around an ear of corn with the shaker. Apparently this penchant runs in the family, since my dad salts both watermelon and pizza. (Thankfully, we both have stellar blood pressure.) In my profession as a dietitian, my love affair with salt […]

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Finding Balance For My Child’s Birthday Party

July 16, 2014

Recently, my 10 year old had his birthday party at an indoor trampoline park: a dozen friends, an hour of bouncing, and a party room for 40 minutes. Frankly, I’m usually too cheap to shell out for parties like this, but we figured we’d go big to ring in those double digits. Plus, any arrangement […]

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Dinnertime Survival Guide: A Thank You To My Readers

July 15, 2014

In April, a box of books landed on my doorstep and I almost fainted. In a good way. After months of writing and recipe testing (and tasting), l’m thrilled with the finished product: Cooking Light Dinnertime Survival Guide. I’ve also been thrilled to hear from so many of you about it. You tell me the book is […]

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Dinnertime Survival Trick: Make Bacon In Your Oven

July 9, 2014

Throughout the pages of my new book Cooking Light Dinnertime Survival Guide are tricks that help me save time, money, and sanity. I call them “Crazy Tricks That Actually Work”. I’m sharing a few of these on my blog. I’ve been known to say that I could be a vegetarian if it weren’t for bacon. (My kids […]

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Changing Camp Snacks For The Better

July 7, 2014

Snacktivism doesn’t stop when the school year ends. While some kids attend just a week or two of camp throughout the summer, others spend many weeks–or even most of the summer–at camp. It shouldn’t be a place where healthy food takes a permanent vacation. Two years ago, I had my own moment of camp Snacktivism, […]

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The Easiest Frozen Treat Ever

July 5, 2014

It’s all about staying cool right now, which means stocking your freezer with some cold, frosty goodies. Frozen grapes are the perfect one-ingredient frozen treat: Rinse, de-stem, place them in a freezer-safe bag, and lay them flat in your freezer. Be sure your kids can easily reach them for self-serve summer snacking. They taste like […]

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{Giveaway} Applegate Summer Cookout Kit!

July 1, 2014

On the Fourth of July, an estimated 150 million hot dogs are grilled, squirted with ketchup, piled with relish, and devoured. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all feel better about those dogs? This year, I’m working with Applegate as an advisor because I respect their mission to change the meat that people eat. […]

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