Natural MiraLAX Alternatives for Constipation (especially for Children with Special Needs)


UPDATE 4/2/14: We have been managing constipation pretty well now for months with this supplement: MRM Cal-mag-zinc Liquid. We give 5 mg daily but experiment adding or subtracting milligrams until you reach a happy spot for your kid. Need more/different ideas? Tons below!

Dealing with constipation seems to be a perennial topic on forums and message boards for parents of kids with special needs. In responding to a recent query, I realized I've developed an arsenal of tips and tricks over the last two years. I continue to add to these on my page Tips I Wish I'd Known Sooner but thought this deserved its own post. Enjoy!

• We have mostly been able to manage it with diet changes:
- Prunes, Peaches, Pears, Papayas (juiced or pureed, remember The Four Ps!)
- Coconut milk (really should be called coconut cream, comes in a can like Thai Kitchen)
- Pumpkin (Make a dessert with pumpkin, coconut and sweetener, yum!)
- Chia Seeds, sprinkled on top of other foods (put in a pepper shaker and call them "sprinkles," kids love it!)
- Fewer carbs and dairy
- Probiotics powders (We use Primadophilus for Kids)
- I've also heard good things about FruitEze, a fruit paste, but haven't gotten around to ordering it yet.
- Colloidal Minerals, such as those used in the Preemie Growth Project, are giving lots of my friends' kids relief, but sadly Malachi has yet to have that reaction. UPDATE (6/5/13): We are now on Blue Ocean Minerals, which is remarkably effective as it contains magnesium along with the colloidal minerals. Use a very small dose and work up slowly or you will have the opposite problem!
- Lots of water and fluids. This looks like a fun idea for involving the child in monitoring his/her water intake, though I haven't tried it yet.

• If he's been straining for a day or two with no results, it's time to bring out the big guns.
- Glycerin suppositories are natural (most glycerin these days is a biodiesel byproduct) and mostly work by having something there to send a louder urge to the brain. Cut an adult one in half for little kids, even safe for babies, but ask your doc.
- Glycerin enemas — very fast relief! Available everywhere. I wouldn't use them all the time, but they sure work!
- Magnesium sulfate (aka Epsom salt) is also a good laxative that has the added benefit of improving the body's ability to absorb nutrients and easing muscle contractions — perfect for cerebral palsy! I tend to add epsom salt to Malachi's baths so this is sort of a regular thing for us. This can be TOO effective so be careful your child doesn't drink the bathwater and that you don't put too much in. We do about half a cup in a bathtub of three inches of water.

• There are also movements you can use, such as the Wind-Relieving Pose in yoga, and a technique we learned from an acupuncturist that involves pressure points that worked very well when Malachi was a baby, but less well now that he's older and the stomach muscles are stronger. He still thinks it's hilarious though and calls it "poop massage."

• Why shouldn't you just use MiraLAX or other petroleum-based laxatives? Glad you asked. (Spoiler alert: The FDA says they contain neurotoxins and block the body's ability to absorb nutrients. Yikes!)

Do you have any tips? Questions? Issues? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!

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  1. Anonymous11:57 PM

    We've been using epsom salts in the bath (though I use 1/2 cup - 1 cup in a full tub). I also started a liquid cal/mag supplement, but am working on the dosage (a bit too messy right now!).

    I just got some essential oils from a friend - one that can be ingested and/or rubbed on the tummy for relief, and another that can also be used topically to help relax muscles. We'll see how those go!

  2. Water gives me relief within a few hours.


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