What kind of food should you provide for your child for better digestion and bowel movement? Dr Goh Han Meng, Paediatrician at SBCC Baby & Child Clinic answers some commonly asked questions.


Q: What are the common bowel problems you notice in most children?

Feeding concerns range from gastro-esophageal reflux in infants to picky eating in older children. Others include poor weight gain, diarrhoea, recurrent abdominal pain as well as constipation. A common problem that I pick up, but is usually not noticed by the parents, is delayed toilet training, which can worsen constipation.

Q: My child has hard stools. What food can I introduce to him to make him clear his bowels?

The necessary ingredients for soft stools are soluble fibre and adequate water intake. Various fruits contain larger proportions of soluble fibre. In our local context, I usually recommend the consumption of dragonfruit or papaya. Certain juices like pear and prune juice also contain insoluble sugars that help the stools to retain water.

Q: My child seems to have watery stools all the time. What kind of food should I avoid or give him?

The key is to determine if the stools are really watery or not. In the presence of good weight gain, “watery” stools may actually be normal for the child. I usually ask for a picture or a stool sample as interpretation varies on the description “watery”. Food avoidance depends on the cause of the problem.

For example, those with lactose intolerance should avoid lactose-containing products, the most prevalent of which is cow’s milk formula. Rarer conditions like cow’s milk protein allergy may improve with total breastfeeding or switching to a formula that is extensively predigested.

By Dr Goh Han Meng, Paediatrician at SBCC Baby & Child Clinic.

This article was first published in The New Age Parents e-magazine.

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