It is common for children with feeding challenges to drink small amounts water, eat minimal fruit and vegetables and get stomach pains and constipation. Being constipated can result in pain when needing to go to the bathroom and low appetite, therefore reducing the willingness of children to try new foods. One nutrient which can help to help to improve constipation is fibre!!
Fibre is an important nutrient in our diet that is often forgotten. It helps to regulate our gut health, keep us fuller for longer and reduces our risk of developing chronic illnesses later in life. Fibre is the part of plants which isn’t digested fully in our gut and can make our stools softer and easier to pass. Foods that are high in fibre include: wholegrain breads and cereals, oats, beans and pulses, vegetables, fruits, and nuts.
Tips to increase fibre in your child’s diet:
- Check the food label! A high fibre product contains at least 6 g fibre per 100 g.
- Keep any vegetables they eat slightly crunchy if possible. Cooking vegetables until they’re soft will soften most of the fibre too much.
- Add fruit to cereals, baked goods or as a snack.
- Add oats into muffins and cakes! See the banana oat muffin recipe below for inspiration!
- Add beans and pulses into mince meat dishes. They take on the flavour of the sauce and can be blended and mixed through sauces if your child doesn’t like mixed textures.
- Use wholemeal pasta or rice when possible.
Increasing a child’s intake of water can also help to improve constipation and is important to consider alongside fibre consumption. If your child struggles to drink enough water, ask our dietitians for practical tips to address this challenge. Additionally, good fruit and vegetable intake can improve bowel health too. If your child only eats a minimal range of fruits and vegetables, that’s ok! Any consumption of these food groups is good! Increasing their range of accepted foods can be improved through mealtime adjustments and feeding therapy. Feel free to ask us for any advice in this area too!
If you’re worried about your child’s bowel habits, have a think about their fibre and water intake. These could be the key to improved gut health and happy tummies!
Alice (Paediatric Dietitian)
Recipe: Banana Oat Muffins
½ cup milk
1 tbsp margarine
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 banana, ripe
1 ¼ cups self-raising flour
½ cup oats
1/3 cup brown sugar
Optional: chocolate chips
- Combine milk, egg, margarine, vanilla and banana, and blend in a mixing jug.
- Place flour, oats and sugar in a large bowl. Mix in milk mixture.
- Pour mixture into a greased 6-hole muffin tray.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes at 180°C.