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Constipation and soiling information for parents / guardians

Patient information A-Z

You have been seen by one of the gastroenterology consultants for support with constipation and / or soiling.

We know that constipation and soiling can be very distressing for both you and your child but with time and patience things can improve.

Basic advice


Follow the medication regime the consultant has given you. If you do not understand what is being said in your consultation, please do ask. The most commonly prescribed medication for constipation is Movicol. This is an osmotic laxative, which means it encourages water into the stools to make them softer to pass. The initial dose required will have been discussed in your consultation, but everyone can respond differently. Therefore, it can require experimentation to find the right dose for your child. Remember as your child’s parents you are the experts on their daily bowel pattern so by monitoring this you will be able to work out if you need to increase or decrease the dose of your child’s medication.


Ensure that your child drinks adequate fluids, six to eight glasses of water per day. Constipation is related to dehydration in the colon so you need to make sure your child is drinking lots of water throughout the day. This will help the stool stay soft and easy to pass. A high fibre diet can help some people with constipation. Your child’s diet should include fruit, vegetables, nuts, wholemeal bread, pasta and wholegrain cereals.

Habits and routine

Establish regular bowel habits by encouraging your child to go to the toilet at routine intervals to minimise withholding. A good time to go is shortly after meals.

A reward system along with praise and encouragement (not pressure) may be used to help reinforce using the toilet. An example would be making a chart for your child and putting it up. Every time they poo in the toilet they get a star to put on the chart. This will help keep a record of progress for both you and them. Once they have a certain number of stars (not too many) they can pick a small reward.


The ERIC website (opens in a new tab) has advice and resources around soiling and constipation. There is also a helpline which you can call for advice.

The Bowel and Bladder UK website (opens in a new tab) also offers advice and resources around soiling and constipation as well as an advice helpline.

APP: Poo goes Home to Pooland (free to download) This app is a story of a young boy trying to send his poo back home. For children up to around age eight years old.

Book: Meet the Poos by Rob Renee (available from Amazon) A story about Peter Poo and his family to help children who have a fear of passing a poo or using the toilet.

Other professionals who may be of help:

  • your GP
  • health visitor- if you have a child under six years of age
  • school nurse
  • CHUMS (opens in a new tab) - Emotional wellbeing service that can offer emotional support to families. You can self-refer to this service.

We are smoke-free

Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the hospital campus. For advice and support in quitting, contact your GP or the free NHS stop smoking helpline on 0800 169 0 169.

Other formats

Help accessing this information in other formats is available. To find out more about the services we provide, please visit our patient information help page (see link below) or telephone 01223 256998.

Contact us

Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge

Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151