Constipation occurs when a child has hard stools (bowel movements) that occur less frequently than usual. Some types of chemotherapy, such as vincristine, and pain medications can cause constipation. It is easier to prevent constipation than treat it. Some ways to help decrease constipation include:

  • Encourage your child to drink water several times each day.
  • Encourage physical activity, such as walking, to stimulate bowel function.
  • If your child is not able to drink a lot of fluid, try foods that are high in water (such as fruits).
  • Give your child foods that are high in fiber (fruits, vegetables, and whole grains).
  • When starting a high-fiber diet, do it slowly (increasing fiber by 5 grams per day).
  • Your healthcare provider may give you a medicine to make stools softer.

Do not use enemas or suppositories without talking with your healthcare provider.


  • Offer a variety of fruits and vegetables.
  • Offer whole grain breads and cereals, and dried fruits such as raisins.
  • Offer high-fiber snack foods such as fig bars, date or raisin bars, and oatmeal cookies.
  • Encourage your child to drink plenty of fluids.
  • Encourage light physical activity, when possible.