It’s pretty common for kids to complain of tummy troubles caused by vacation constipation, which can dampen the mood. Whether it’s vacation constipation or diarrhea, dealing with irregularity can be frustrating. There are many reasons for this change in habits while on vacation. The good news is that there are also some easy things we can do as parents to help keep our kids regular.
Many kids experience mild dehydration while traveling which can lead to vacation constipation. Whether it’s because of the dry air on the flights or all the exciting things to see, they may not be drinking enough water. Make sure to carry water with you all the time and schedule potty breaks throughout the day. Sometimes infusing water with fruit can give it enough of a flavor boost to encourage consumption.
You want to try to keep the fiber levels the same no matter where you are. When kids eat several servings of fruits and vegetables throughout the day at home, the sudden drop in fiber can cause them to get backed up. Not to mention, we eat out more on vacation! Unfortunately, most restaurant meals, especially kid meals, don’t offer enough fiber to keep kids regular.
You can offset vacation constipation by offering more fiber to your child. Things to try?
Alternatively, if your child doesn’t eat a lot of fiber at home, make sure to not go crazy while on vacation. A sudden increase in fiber can also cause vacation constipation.
Many times due to flights or car rides, kids are less active than they might be at home. Movement can help get the bowels moving. If it’s possible to break up travel days with some walking breaks, do so. If you just have time for a quick pit stop, see who can do the most jumping jacks or who can run in place the fastest. Anything that can get some movement into your child’s day will make a difference. Once you’ve arrived at your destination, try to make sure your child gets regular activity breaks there as well.
Some kids have trouble using unfamiliar bathrooms while on vacation. This may cause them to try and hold it for as long as possible. Since you’re not going to be able to pack your bathroom with you, make sure that you are at least giving your child ample time to get comfortable. If they use a special seat cover, pack that. If it’s possible to bring or create a step stool or foot rest, do so. Give them a few minutes after a bath, when they are relaxed, to try and use the bathroom. Sometimes it takes a little extra time for them to get comfortable, so have them look at a book to distract themselves if needed.
If your child is struggling with travelers diarrhea instead of vacation constipation, your main concern should be to make sure that they are staying hydrated. It’s generally recommended to try and continue as close to a usual diet as they can tolerate. The goal is to provide enough fiber to absorb some of the liquid, but not too much to aggravate the issue. Generally, it resolves on its own.
Krystyn Parks is a Registered Dietitian practicing in Southern California. She has personal and professional experience in feeding kids. Check out her private practice Feeding Made Easy.
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