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5 Tips to Prevent Constipation in Picky Eaters

Published December 21, 2023

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Navigating the world of picky eaters can be a challenge, especially when it comes to ensuring your kid also maintains a healthy digestive system. Foods that are good for the gut include a variety of fruits and vegetables. However, as a Registered Dietitian, I know that sometimes it can be a struggle to get your little ones to eat enough fruits and vegetables. Constipation in picky eaters is particularly a common concern among parents, especially if your kiddo has a difficult time introducing new foods into their diets. Let’s review five tips that parents can try today to help prevent constipation in the picky eaters in the family.

Constipation in Picky Eaters

Picky eaters often have a limited diet, which can result in a lack of essential nutrients and fiber crucial for regular bowel movements. Studies have suggested that constipation may be associated with picky eating [1]. Constipation is already a common struggle among kids and a low intake of dietary fiber may also be an additional risk factor to contribute to this.

Tips to Prevent Constipation in Picky Eaters

1. Gradual Expansion of Food Choices

Introduce new gut-friendly foods gradually along with foods your little ones already love. According to the CDC, it can take up to 10 times before your kiddo might like a new food. Encourage exploration by presenting diverse, colorful options or foods in fun shapes to expand their palate and nutrient intake.

2. Let Your Kiddo Help with Groceries

During your next grocery trip, lead your kiddo into the produce aisle and let them pick out their choice of fruits and vegetables. Including your little ones as a part of the decision process allows them to be more comfortable with trying something new.

3. Creative Meal Preparations

Experiment with different ways to make nutritious foods more appealing. For example, turn vegetables into your kid's favorite shapes or add fruits to their favorite yogurt to not only add nutrients, but help them get excited to eat it as well.

4. Consistent Hydration

Water is crucial for proper digestion and softening stool, making bowel movements easier [4]. Here are 15 creative ways to help your picky eater drink more fluids and help them stay hydrated.

Begin Health Expert Tip: We know dealing with pickers can be a struggle. This is why we’ve formulated our Growing Up Prebiotics to help families with picky eaters get the fiber they need to help with constipation support. It’s tasteless, textureless, and mixes easily with water or their favorite beverage to provide 3g of fiber per serving. Studies show that consuming prebiotics daily can help with regularity and softer stools within six weeks of use [5].

5. Offer New Foods First

Your kiddo is most hungry at the start of a meal, so try incorporating bite-sized portions of a new fruit or vegetable first before serving a meal they already love. In addition, you can take it one step further by being a good role model and trying the food together with your little one. Kids learn by watching their family and peers, so make it a habit to try something new together before a meal to gradually introduce more gut-friendly options into your little one’s diet.

Summary: Preventing constipation in picky eaters might require multiple strategies. Fiber helps with regularity, but it can be a struggle to get picky kids to eat enough fruits and vegetables. Tips for helping pickier kids with trying new gut-friendly foods include pairing new foods with options they already love, getting them involved with grocery shopping, presenting foods in their favorite shapes, staying hydrated, and trying new foods together. Gradual changes and a positive, supportive approach to expanding their food choices can make a significant difference. Need more tips to help with your picky eater? Check out these 4 Tips to Expand Your Picky Eating Kids Food Palette.


[1] Taylor CM, Northstone K, Wernimont SM, Emmett PM. Picky eating in preschool children: Associations with dietary fibre intakes and stool hardness. Appetite. 2016 May 1;100:263-71. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2016.02.021. Epub 2016 Feb 12. PMID: 26879221; PMCID: PMC5828098.

[2] Taylor CM, Emmett PM. Picky eating in children: causes and consequences. Proc Nutr Soc. 2019 May;78(2):161-169. doi: 10.1017/S0029665118002586. Epub 2018 Nov 5. PMID: 30392488; PMCID: PMC6398579.

[3] Tharner A, Jansen PW, Kiefte-de Jong JC, Moll HA, Hofman A, Jaddoe VW, Tiemeier H, Franco OH. Bidirectional associations between fussy eating and functional constipation in preschool children. J Pediatr. 2015 Jan;166(1):91-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2014.09.028. Epub 2014 Oct 28. PMID: 25443999.

[4] Boilesen SN, Tahan S, Dias FC, Melli LCFL, de Morais MB. Water and fluid intake in the prevention and treatment of functional constipation in children and adolescents: is there evidence? J Pediatr (Rio J). 2017 Jul-Aug;93(4):320-327. doi: 10.1016/j.jped.2017.01.005. Epub 2017 Apr 25. PMID: 28450053.

[5] Closa-Monasterolo R, Ferré N, Castillejo-DeVillasante G, Luque V, Gispert-Llaurado M, Zaragoza-Jordana M, Theis S, Escribano J. The use of inulin-type fructans improves stool consistency in constipated children. A randomised clinical trial: pilot study. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2017 Aug;68(5):587-594. doi: 10.1080/09637486.2016.1263605. Epub 2016 Dec 8. PMID: 27931142.

May Zhu, RDN

May Zhu, RDN

May is the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and nutrition expert at Begin Health.