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3 Signs Your Kid is Ready to Wean Off Laxatives

Published February 06, 2024

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Laxatives are often seen as a quick solution for constipation relief, but prolonged use, especially in toddlers and kids, can lead to dependency and withdrawal symptoms. It’s crucial to be aware of the signs indicating that your kid may be ready to wean off laxatives so it Let’s explore these signs and provide guidance on how to approach the process with care and attention to your kid’s well-being.

Regularity in Bowel Movements

 A consistent pattern of regular bowel movements without the need for laxative intervention is the biggest indicator that your little one is ready to wean off laxatives, in addition to a more predictable potty time. When your little one is having at least one to two soft bowel movements daily, this is generally a good sign that he or she is able to slowly decrease dosage and wean off of their laxative.

Begin Health Expert Tip

Does your kiddo need additional support during this transition off of laxatives? Studies show that consuming chicory root fiber, such as the one found in Begin Health’s Daily Growing Up Prebiotics can support softer and more frequent poops within six weeks of daily use [cite]. Your kiddo can use this as additional nutrition support for regularity as they decrease the amount of laxatives they use.

No Stool Leaking or Soiling 

An absence of stool leaking or soiling is another important sign that your kid’s bowel function is improving without the need for laxatives. If your little one’s underwear remains clean and dry between bowel movements, this is a good sign that their bowel control has strengthened and they may be ready to reduce the need for laxative assistance.

No Overnight Bowel Movements 

The absence of overnight bowel movements or waking up during the night to poop is another positive indicator. This also includes if your kiddo is no longer waking up during the night to poop. 

Improved Physical and Emotional Well-Being

Monitor your kid’s overall physical and emotional well-being throughout the process. If your little one exhibits fewer symptoms of discomfort, bloating, or abdominal pain associated with constipation, it could indicate that their digestive system is functioning more optimally without the need for laxatives. Additionally, observe their mood and behavior, as reduced reliance on laxatives may contribute to improved self-esteem and confidence.

Decrease Laxative Dosage Slowly 

When weaning off laxatives, it's essential to approach the process gradually and with sensitivity to your kiddo’s comfort level. Patience is key, since abrupt discontinuation of laxatives can lead to rebound constipation or withdrawal symptoms such as abdominal pain, gas, or incontinence [2]. Instead, gradually reduce the frequency or dosage of laxatives while simultaneously implementing other supportive measures, such as dietary changes, increased physical activity, and adequate hydration. Setbacks are completely normal. You can always restart or increase the laxative dosage until you get back on track. 

Summary

Signs such as softer and more frequent poops, no stool leaking or soiling, no overnight bowel movements, and better mood overall can be indicators that your kid is ready to safely wean off laxatives. Remember, setbacks can be completely normal - you can always restart or increase the laxative dosage again until you get back on track again with healthier poops. 

References

[1] Closa-Monasterolo, R., Ferré, N., Castillejo-DeVillasante, G., Luque, V., Gispert-Llauradó, M., Zaragoza-Jordana, M., Theis, S., & Escribano, J. (2016). The use of inulin-type fructans improves stool consistency in constipated children. A randomised clinical trial: pilot study. International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, 68(5), 587–594.https://doi.org/10.1080/09637486.2016.1263605

[2] Shirasawa Y, Fukuda M, Kimura G. Diuretics-assisted treatment of chronic laxative abuse. CEN Case Rep. 2014 Nov;3(2):209-214. doi: 10.1007/s13730-014-0120-7. Epub 2014 Mar 26. Erratum in: CEN Case Rep. 2014 Nov;3(2):215-216. PMID: 28509201; PMCID: PMC5411570.

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