Commonly used constipation medications include:
- Milk of magnesia: contains magnesiuim hydroxide, an osmotic laxative with a chalky tasting that is not tolerated by all children. It may be helpful to mix with 1-2 teaspoons of Tang or Nestle Quick. Or mix into a milk shake.
- Mineral Oil: a lubricant that you can mix with orange juice. May cause leakage and staining of underware.
- Docusate: available as Colace and Surfak, and is a lubricating laxative. Also available with a stimulant laxative in the combination medicine Peri-Colace.
- Malt Soup Extract: or Maltsupex, it has an unpleasant odor, but is easily mixed with formula for younger infants.
- Senokot: a stimulant laxative
- Bisacodyl: a stimulant laxative available as Correctol and Dulcolax.
Other medications that are available by prescription include:
- Lactulose: an osmotic laxative
- Miralax: a tastless, osmotic laxative that contains polyethylene glycol and is usually used for two weeks or less at a time.
In addition to a stool softener, it may also help to give added fiber by mixing Metamucil or Citrucel with 8 ounces of water or juice, or another bulk forming laxative or fiber supplements.
Instead of stopping the medication, if your child is regularly having loose stools or diarrhea, the dosage should be decreased by 25%. So if he is taking 1 teaspoon of milk of magnesia and is regularly having loose stools, then decrease it to 3/4 of a teaspoon. Don't make too many changes based on a single stool though.
Once your child is having regular soft stools, you can then talk with your Pediatrician about decreasing the dosages of the laxative that your are using. This is usually done gradually, often by decreasing the dose by 25% every 1-2 months. Stopping the laxatives too quickly can result in your child becoming constipated again. It is also important to continue your child's nonconstipating diet during and after the laxatives are stopped.
Once your child's stools have become soft and regular, it is important to modify his behavior and encourage him to have regular bowel movements. This often includes having him sit on the toilet for about 10 minutes after meals once or twice a day. You can keep a diary or sticker chart of when he tries to have a bowel movement and/or takes his medicine, then offer a reward for regular compliance.
See our Constipation Treatment Guide for more information.