As a Doctor of Chiropractic who is trained to see pediatrics, I see parents all the time that are feeling helpless when it comes to finding a solution for their children's chronic constipation and gut health. It can be overwhelming to try and find answers with a million different options to choose from.
I'm Dr. Leah Renwanz, a Pediatric Chiropractor and founder of Vive Family Chiropractic located in Jefferson, Iowa. At my office, we find toddlers and kids that are struggling with constipation are dealing with one (or more) of the following three challenges:
How Neurological Stress in Kids Can Impact Their Digestion
In my clinic, the first thing we often find is neurological stress in the kids. These kids have been under some type of stress causing their brain and nervous system to switch into fight or flight mode. In fight or flight mode, the body is in a protective state, like running or fighting a bear. It would not be “safe” to stop and go “potty” if a bear is chasing you, so our brain puts a pause on digestion until it is “safe” again.
Unfortunately, we are constantly experiencing good and bad stress during our daily life and sometimes our bodies have a hard time believing that our environment is safe again. This means that our digestive system may be held up for quite a while. This neurological stress can also cause stress and tension to get stuck in places in the nervous system that may impair proper communication from the GI tract to the brain. If communication gets altered, we may see issues like improper digestion and constipation.
Antibiotics, Steroids and Osmotic Laxative Use In Kids
The second thing we commonly find is the overuse of antibiotic, steroid, and/or overuse of osmotic laxatives like MiraLAX in kids suffering from constipation. It is known that while antibiotics do kill the pathogen of concern, they also reduce gut microbiota diversity and reduce beneficial microbes (Patangia et al.). Our bodies need healthy bacteria for healthy immune system function, proper processing and breaking down foods, and many other health benefits (Langdon et al.). I am adding osmotic laxatives into this category, specifically MiraLAX because it hasn’t been approved for long-term use OR to be used in children by the FDA. The overuse of any one of these interventions can exhaust the nervous system, and may hinder the children from proper digestion.
Picky Eating May Lead to Nutritional Deficiencies in Kids
In my practice, the third most common challenge we see in kids with constipation are nutritional deficiencies as a result of picky eating. Picky eating can be caused by many different factors from sensory aversions to defiance in trying new things. Regardless of the reason, as parents we are always trying to fill the gaps. The truth is that most children are not consuming enough fiber and enough leafy green veggies.
Pediatric Chiropractic is much different than the TikTok’s or Reels that you see of intense, fast, and loud “cracks” and movements. Pediatric Chiropractic is gentle and specific, removing the stress and tension from a little one’s nervous system and helping them to calm down and resetting their body to better regulate itself. Consistent adjustments assure that the nervous system doesn’t get stuck in sympathetic: fight or flight mode, but stays in parasympathetic: calm, rest, and digest mode. In rest mode, with clear communication channels from brain to the GI system, children of all ages can poop with greater ease.
How Prebiotics Can Support General Gut Health and Fill Nutritional Gaps
Something else that aids in the healing of the gut from laxative or antibiotic overuse AND helps fill in some of the nutritional gaps picky eaters face are prebiotics. At our office, we have tried many different brands and I wasn’t thrilled with the majority of them, until we found Growing up Prebiotics by Begin Health. Parents and even children in our office have made comments about how effective they have been.
What I Love about Begin Health's Growing Up Prebiotics as a Mom
I love that Growing up Prebiotics are tasteless and textureless. I have tried MANY different prebiotics with my two boys in hopes to help support their gut health. They have refused every single one until Growing Up Prebiotics. You can add it to their baby foods, mashed foods, or their drink. I personally add it to my boys’ waters during one of their meals. They don’t even notice!
What I Love about Growing up Prebiotics as a Chiropractor
I love that the ingredients are chicory root fiber and human milk oligosaccharide (2'-FL HMO). Chicory root is high in fiber but also increases your intake of many vitamins and minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and folate (Fray). The health benefits of HMOs are widely known and provide digestive health, immune support, and cognitive development (Hill et al.). Being able to add in valuable nutrition for our children that can help support their gut and help them have easier bowel movements is important.
Find a Pediatric Chiropractic Near You
Our kids deserve to be happy, joyful, and thriving; not struggling with tummy aches, withholding, anxiety around pooping, or chronic constipation. If you are searching for help for your family and would like to add in Chiropractic, we recommend you find a trained Pediatric Chiropractor near you who will assess your child’s specific case history and perform cutting-edge “stress scans” for your child’s nervous system. These stress scans can help determine if they are stuck in fight or flight mode. Finally, your practitioner can help by outlining a step-by-step plan of action to get to the root of your child’s chronic constipation.
We cannot wait to hear your stories of blow outs and happy poops.
Dr. Leah Renwanz is a Pediatric Chiropractor and founder of Vive Family Chiropractic located in Jefferson, Iowa. Her vision to see every baby, child, teen and adult in her community thrive and live the healthiest life possible.
Mills, M. , et al. (2013) Resolution of Severe Constipation, Vomiting and Leg Pain in a Child Undergoing Subluxation Based Chiropractic Care: A Case Report. Journal of Pediatric, Maternal, & Family Health – Chiropractic, 2013(4), 84-89.
Babinski, K. , et al. (2019) Resolution of Chronic Constipation in a Child Undergoing Chiropractic Care to Reduce Vertebral Subluxations: A Case Report & Review of Literature. Journal of Pediatric, Maternal, & Family Health– Chiropractic, 2019, 122-128.
Frey, Malia. “Chicory Root Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits.” Very Well Fit, 25 Aug. 2021
Hill, David R, et al. (2021) Multifunctional Benefits of Prevalent HMOs: Implications for Infant Health. Nutrients, 2021, 13(10), 3364.
Langdon, Amy, et al. “The Effects of Antibiotics on the Microbiome throughout Development and Alternative Approaches for Therapeutic Modulation - PMC.” PubMed Central (PMC), Genome Med, 13 Apr. 2016,
Patangia, Dhrati V., et al. “Impact of Antibiotics on the Human Microbiome and Consequences for Host Health - PMC.” PubMed Central (PMC), Microbiologyopen, 13 Jan. 2022