50+ Alternatives to Miralax for Children
There is an epidemic of childhood constipation. Often when you talk to your child’s pediatrician they will tell you that Miralax is the only option or the best option. Miralax hasn’t been approved for children under 17 and over 25,000 adverse effects and 160 deaths have been reported to the FDA for Polyethylene Glycol, the only ingredient in Miralax. My son was put on Miralax by his Pediatric Gastroenterologist and was on it for over a year. He suffered terrible side effects including Tics, Anxiety, OCD, Panic Attacks, Night Terrors, Speech Issues, Learning Delays. When I took him off of Miralax, these issues improved and then when he was given Miralax again, the side effects came roaring back full force. It was a very clear cause and effect. Seeing so many children who have had similar stories as my son, led me to start this website to try to help families find safe and effective ways to help their children who are suffering from constipation and avoid the toxic band-aid of Miralax. For more information on Miralax safety, please read this article: Is Miralax Safe to Give to My Child?
I compiled a list of 50+ things that readers have had success using with their children to help them with their constipation issues. I always think that you will have more success in ending your child’s constipation once you Find the Root Cause of the Constipation. (This article will help you do that) But until you find the root cause, this list will give you some great ideas to try. The list includes Amazon Affiliate links so you can click on them to check the price on Amazon. I know that when your child has been struggling with constipation for a long time, you have tried a lot of products and it can get expensive so price does matter in what you can afford to try.
Alternatives to Miralax for Children
- Natural Calm Magnesium Citrate(Amazon link) Magnesium is one of the quickest and most effective ways to get your child to have a bowel movement. Magnesium is the fifth most common mineral in your body and many of us are deficient. Magnesium Citrate isn’t very well absorbed by the body so it works quickly to produce a bowel movement. The body basically poops out the magnesium citrate that it can’t absorb. Make sure you activate the Calm by adding hot water. Then you can add ice, make a slushee, add it to juice etc. For more information on Magnesium, here’s a link to my article Magnesium and Constipation.
- Ex-Lax Chocolate Squares are made with Senna. Senna causes the intestines to contract. This product works well if your child has motility issues or is struggling to push out the stool. But it can also cause cramping, so that is something to be aware of if your child gets a tummy ache after taking it. It also has sugar and dairy in it, so if you are avoiding those things, this might not be the best option for you.
- Homemade Electrolyte Drink for Constipation Many members of the PAM group has reported wonderful success using this recipe for a natural and safe electrolyte drink. Their children like the taste and it is working for them. One mom made a game of it and put it in a syringe and let her daughter squirt it into her mouth. You can also make it into Ice Pops or a slushee.Electrolyte Drink for Constipation
- Organic Grape Juice can work for some kids. If your child is fructose intolerant then juice isn’t a great choice and can cause more gastro problems but for a lot of kids with mild constipation, the juice will help them go.
- Buffered Vitamin C When you get too much Vitamin C your body expels the excess similar to how it does with Magnesium. You can mix this with water if your child will take it that way or mix it with a little bit of water and then mix that in with your child’s favorite juice. You could make a slushee with this as well. And using a fun straw, or a fancy cup is always a good way to encourage your child to drink.
- Water! I know that this can be a challenge to get your child to drink a lot of water but being dehydrated can cause constipation. I make my son herbal teas like this Organic Peppermint Tea, which counts towards his water drinking, or I will make a slushee in my Vitamix using a tray of ice, the juice of a lime and a tsp of Organic Sugar. My son loves it and will drink down a huge glass of it when it would be a fight to get him to drink straight up water. I also make infused lemon or fruit water in a Glass and Stainless Water Bottle with Infuser. Even Ice Pops made with organic juice or homemade lemonade counts. Of course, nothing with caffeine counts. Getting your child to drink enough is critical to battling constipation., For more information how to get your child to drink more and for details on how much they should be drinking, read this article: Constipation in Children can be caused by Dehydration
- Mag Go is a Magnesium supplement with magnesium oxide, Vitamin C, and stevia. This is a good alternative to Magnesium Citrate.
- Smarty Pants Vitamins with Fiber Lots of readers have had success with these vitamins with fiber. Fiber is a double-edged sword. If the reason your child is constipated is that they have a low fiber diet and the constipation is mild, then a fiber supplement may be the answer. But if your child is impacted or seriously constipated then a fiber supplement can worsen constipation by absorbing water in the colon, drying out the stool and making it harder to pass. I think fiber from the diet, like cucumbers, oranges, celery is always a better choice than a fiber supplement but it has helped some families. For more information on fiber read my article Will Fiber help my Constipated Child?
- An Enema can really help a child when there is large, hard stool in the colon. It is never fun to have to do an enema on a child but it can break up the stool and make it easier to pass. If your child is impacted, then a top down-bottom up approach can be really really helpful. For more information on how to do a clean out on your child here is a link to my article How to do a Clean Out on a Constipated Child.
- Glycerin Suppositories work similarly to an enema but use glycerin to lubricate the poop to help it come out without causing pain for your child. They aren’t going to go as deep so might be easier for some parents to give to their kids but they also won’t break up a large hard stool as well as an enema. For more information on enemas and suppositories, please read my article Stress-Free Suppository and Enema use for Constipation Relief for Your Child
- Many families in the People Against Miralax group have had a lot of success with the supplement Restore (Restore4life.com). This isn’t usually a short-term fix for constipation but a long-term solution to heal the gut. This was the magic bullet for my son. Here is a link to my article on our experience with Restore. Restore for Constipation in Children and Healing the Gut
- Some parents have had good success with Bioray NDF Pooper. You can add a dropper or two to a glass of juice. These are mango flavored herbal drops. There are also parents in the group who tried it and didn’t have any luck with it, but this is a safe product to try so I think it is worth trying to see if it will work for your child.
- Milk of Magnesia can help short term. Be careful to read all ingredients as many versions contain sodium hypochlorite which is basically bleach and should be avoided at all costs. Milk of Magnesia also is an antacid and we need acid in our stomach to digest food properly. When we use an antacid to lower the acid due to heartburn or reflux, it can actually cause constipation. So I would save this for occasional use and not count on it for long-term use.
- Eliminating dairy. This can be a hard thing to imagine doing, especially when your child seems to get most of his or her calories from dairy-based formula or from milk, but dairy causes a lot of constipation issues for many many children. If you are breastfeeding, a good step is to eliminate dairy from your diet as the proteins can pass into your milk. If you are using a cow’s milk-based formula look for alternatives like this Non-GMO Goat’s Milk Formula. If your child is drinking cow’s milk there are a lot of non-dairy milk alternatives at just about every grocery store. Make sure to get one without carrageenan as it can cause gastrointestinal issues. Almond, cashew, coconut milk and hemp milk are all good alternatives. I would avoid soy as it can have an estrogenic effect on your child and may contribute to early puberty or hormonally based cancers later in life. For more information on dairy and how it can contribute to constipation, plus tasty alternatives, please read my article Is Dairy Causing Your Constipation?
- Organic Epsom Salt used either in a bath or orally, can have a laxative effect on your child. Epsom salt by mouth was used by generations as a laxative. It has the added benefit of sulfur being magnesium sulfate which your body needs to heal and detoxify. Adding a cup or two to your child’s bath or adding it to their juice or in my Home Made Electrolyte Drink Recipe are all good ways to use Epsom salts for constipation.
- Shaklee Herblax is another Senna based herbal product. Senna works great for some kids, especially those with motility issues but it can cause cramping for others. Senna used long-term, can cause dependence as well so unless you have motility issues, it is best if only used short term while you are working on Finding the Root Cause of the Constipation.
- Going Gluten Free. No one really wants to go gluten-free, but many kids react to gluten with either diarrhea or constipation. Thankfully there are so many really tasty and kid friendly gluten free options out there now that is is much easier to be gluten-free than it was 10 years ago when my son was diagnosed with Celiac disease. Even if you aren’t celiac, you can still be gluten intolerant. And wheat has been bred to have larger heads with more protein. Not all children can digest it. Much of the wheat in America is spray with glyphosate to dry the heads out and increase yield. This can cause gut issues when you eat it. Anyone with any autoimmune diseases needs to be gluten-free. We have found really flavorful, healthy gluten-free options like Pamela’s Baking Mix which is like Bisquick. You can make pancakes, waffles, muffins and other things with it. We also like Nut Thins Crackers, Snyder’s Gluten Free Pretzels, and Kind Bars. Overall we try to eat mostly whole foods and avoid too many processed ones. For more information on gluten and if it could be causing your child’s constipation please read my article Is Gluten Causing Your Child’s Constipation?
- Organic Coconut Oil is a wonderful thing for lubricating the stool in the intestines and making it softer. You can make coconut oil fudge with equal parts coconut oil and Chocolate Chips. Melt in a double boiler and then put into ice cube trays or Silicone Candy Molds. Place in the freezer until frozen. Pop them out of the molds and store in zip lock bags pulling out a few each day. You can also use peanut butter or other nut butter instead of chocolate chips for a fun nut butter candy. There are even recipes on Pinterest where they make them in layers like Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups. Super fun, kid-friendly and very effective. For more information on Coconut oil and a full recipe for the coconut oil candy, read this article: Chocolate Coconut Oil Poop Candy For Constipation Relief My children’s book, Dash’s Belly Ache, features a special treat made with coconut oil. Dash’s Belly Ache is a book for children who can’t or won’t poop. It is available on Amazon. The star of the book is Dash, a border collie pup who won’t poop. His doctor gives him a special treat that helps him to have a bowel movement. If your child is struggling with constipation, withholding or is resistant to pooping, Dash’s Belly Ache is a helpful tool to add to your arsenal to help them overcome their struggle. You can buy Dash’s Belly Ache on Amazon.
- Organic MCT Oil is another option. It is a more highly processed coconut oil product. Generally, I try to use the least processed versions of things but the advantage that MCT oil has is that it stays liquid when it is cold. So if you want to add it to a smoothy or use it in salad dressing or dips, it will work really well.
- RenewLife Gentle Move is another Magnesium Oxide product with added herbs for colon support. It is a kid-friendly chewable tablet in strawberry flavor.
- If your child prefers gummies, then Natural Calm Magnesium Citrate Gummies are a fun option and work as well as the powdered Natural Calm.
- Prune Puree pouches or Organic Prune Juice are both good options to try. Moms and grandmas have been using prunes and prune juice to get children to have a bowel movement for generations. If your child has a hard time with fructose or fruit causes gas, then this might not be the best option but it is an inexpensive and tasty option.
- Positioning when trying to pass a stool can make a huge difference. We are built to dedicate squatting but with the addition of toilets, we started to poop sitting. This causes kinks in our intestines and makes it hard for the poop to slide through and out. A Squatty Potty is a stool that raises your legs up and your knees above your hips to replicate the position of squatting on the ground. This can make a huge difference, especially with little kids. If your child’s legs are dangling, then they may have issues going from that. You can also help your child to stand on the toilet seat and squat but that can be harder for them to do as they get older and bigger.
- Kefir is a dairy-based drink that is fermented so it has good gut bacteria. You can also make your own Water Kefir with Kefir Water Grains. This is a great option if you are avoiding dairy and is fizzy like soda so well accepted by children.
- Mommy’s Bliss Constipation Ease has a small amount of Magnesium Citrate and also fennel and dandelion root. This is safe for infants so a good option if you are dealing with constipation with a baby.
- Pedialax Chewables are made with Magnesium Hydroxide. They also have Maltodextrin which is an ingredient we avoid. It causes gas in my family and others I have spoken with. That being said, some families in the group have had success with it.
- Mag O7 is a high dose magnesium oxide product. Members have also reported good success with this product. These are capsules so your child will have to be able to swallow then or you will have to find a way to hide it in food or a drink.
- Aloe works great as a laxative and also helps to heal the gut. George’s Aloe Juice is a good option, especially for children, because they have removed the part of the aloe plant that makes the juice bitter so this is very mild tasting and easy to get your child to drink.
- Animal Parada Magnesium Chews are another Magnesium Citrate product. These also have maltodextrin so they wouldn’t be my first choice but many families have had good luck with them.
- Child Life Probiotic with Colostrum was recommended as helping by a member of the group as well. Colostrum is wonderful for healing the gut. This probiotic only has three strains of bacteria so it isn’t the best probiotic out there but it is safe for infants on up and the addition of colostrum makes it worth trying for sure if you are looking for an inexpensive probiotic. It does contain dairy proteins so if you are looking to avoid all dairy, this one isn’t for you.
- Magnesium Malate is an excellent form of Magnesium and works really well to correct a magnesium deficiency. It isn’t necessarily as fast acting as magnesium citrate for producing a bowel movement for it can do that as well and is well absorbed by the body. This is a good long-term magnesium supplement. Seeking Health Magnesium Malate is a powder so you can mix it in your child’s food or drinks.
- Flaxseed oil really helps to soften stools and lubricate the intestines but it can also have a not very good taste. Barlean’s Flax Seed Oil is flavored in kid-friendly flavors like Strawberry Banana or Blackberry. It does contain Xantham Gum and Guar Gum which can cause gastric upset in some people and some other ingredients that aren’t as clean as I usually would want but it is still can be a helpful product for a picky child.
- Chia Seeds are a great source of soluble fiber, Omega 3 fatty acids, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus. They are a great food on their own and work really well to help with constipation. When chia seeds absorb liquids they for a gel. This gel helps the stool to stay soft and hydrated and the fiber helps the stool to pass through the bowels You can make your own chia pudding or chia gel, add them to smoothies or sprinkle them on just about anything. Pinterest has a ton of chia recipes. Or you can buy a product like Mamma Chia Squeeze Pouches. These are kid-friendly and easy to take with you when you are on the go. For a tasty recipe for Chia Seed Pudding, click on this article: Will Fiber help my Constipated Child?
- Concentrace is a multi-mineral product from the Great Salt Lake. It has magnesium and salt so it will have a salty taste to it. You can use it in food or drinks. It would work in OJ or another strong flavored juice or in soups and other salty foods. You will need to experiment to see how much you need to give your child to get a bowel movement.
- Castor oil has been used for many generations as a laxative. Taking castor oil by mouth is pretty icky and would be next to impossible to get a child to willingly take. But Castor Oil packs can work great for constipation and are easy to do on a child. Get an un-dyed cotton flannel or wool cloth and saturate it with an organic, cold pressed, hexane free Castor Oil. Cover the cloth with plastic wrap (to prevent the castor oil from staining anything it comes in contact with) and a hot water bottle, rice heating pad or electric heating pad if your child is old enough to monitor the heat coming from it. Let the child rest with this on their tummy for an hour. You can reuse the castor oil pack many times. I store mine in a ball jar in between uses. It may take multiple uses before you get a bowel movement. You can use it multiple times a week. For more information on Castor Oil please read my article Should I use Castor Oil or Mineral Oil for Constipation Relief?
- Smooth Move Senna Tea is good if there are motility issues. It can cause cramping but that might be exactly what your child needs to go if he or she doesn’t experience the urge to go. This can happen if a child has Hirschsprung’s Disease, megacolon or the colon is just loose from being stretched with stool. You can get plain flavored or peppermint or chamomile flavored depending on what your child would like. Traditional Medicinals is organic and filled with tasty herbs that help with constipation.
- Coconut Water is very hydrating, has a lot of electrolytes and minerals and is a natural laxative. It is high in dietary fiber and rich in enzymes. This is a really good choice to try for constipation and many kids love the taste.
- VSL#3 is a very high quality probiotic. It is formulated with strains of bacteria that have been studied for gut health, especially for people with IBD, Crohn’s, Ulcerative Colitis and IBS. It is shipped in a cooler with ice packs. This is my favorite probiotic for gut health and it has been shown to increase butyrate. PEG damages Butyrate so if your child has been on Miralax or other PEG product this might help rebuild the gut flora and increase butyrate. My husband has taken VSL#3 on and off for years with good success. ***Update**** After years of using VSL#3, my husband has stopped using VSL#3. The manufacturer changed the formula. And while it is now dairy free, which in theory would be better for him, he has found it just doesn’t work for him as well as it did before. He is currently using Visbiome with wonderful success. Visbiome is the same as the orginal formula of VSL#3) Read the following article for more information on VSL#3. Best Probiotics for Constipation in Children
- Omniblue Ocean Minerals are a full spectrum mineral supplement with the minerals coming from the ocean near the Great Barrier Reef. Omniblue is high in magnesium which as I have discussed many times in this list, is great for making soft easy to pass stools. Many families in the Parents Against Miralax group have had great success with Omniblue. Because it is harvested from the ocean, it is very salty. Adding it to salty foods like soup works great. Some also mix it with juice and their kids take it easily.
- Klaire Labs makes high-quality probiotics with multiple strains of bacteria. It should ship cold to protect the bacteria, especially in hot weather. They have Infant Probiotics which is a powder and a Children’s Chewable.
- Diet changes can make a huge difference with constipation issues. One diet that works to help you identify triggering foods and to heal the gut is the GAPS diet. Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Natasha Campbell-McBride is a wonderful book that will walk you through the steps. This book is especially good if your child has autism, ADD, ADHD, Depression or Schizophrenia on top of constipation.
- Chiropractic adjustments have helped many children with constipation. For some, it worked the very first appointment, for others it took a few adjustments to start getting bowel movements.
- Garden of Life has a couple of different probiotics for kids. One is the Primal Defense Kids which is banana flavored and the Raw Probiotic Kids. The Raw Probiotic contains pre-biotics as well as probiotics and also 23 different raw fruits and vegetables. This would be a good probiotic if you are still working on improving the quality of your child’s diet. You can mix it with smoothies or into juice or food. It has directions for 3-month-old babies and up. The Primal Defense supports the immune system and has dosing for kids 3 years and up. With any probiotic, I highly recommend rotating different brands with different species so you don’t grow a monoculture of multiple copies of a few limited strains of bacteria. For more information on Probiotics and how they will help your child, plus other recommended brands, please read this article: Best Probiotics for Constipation in Children
- Some families have had success with Fiber One Brownies. These would not be my first choice as they are highly processed and contain gluten and dairy. But if you have a child who is a picky eater and you are looking for a way to sneak fiber into his or her diet, then this might work for you. Fiber can help with mild constipation but can make severe constipation worse. If your child is impacted then fiber can sit on top of the stool and suck the fluid out of it causing it to be harder and more difficult to pass. For more information on Fiber and fiber options that could help your child, please read this article: Will Fiber help my Constipated Child?
- Benefiber has helped some kids with their constipation. It is made with wheat dextrin. It has tested at less than 20ppm of gluten but personally, I wouldn’t risk it if your child is celiac or seriously gluten intolerant. As with Fiber One Brownies, you have to be very careful with fiber.
- C-Salts are a form of Vitamin C that is buffered so stomach friendly. It also has some magnesium and potassium which are helpful for constipation. This is a powder so you can mix it in water or juice. It is effervescent so if your child likes soda or other fizzy drinks, this might be a good choice. Some kids don’t like anything with fizz so this wouldn’t work for them. It is non-GMO with no fillers.
- If you are starting solid food with your infant, Quinoa Infant Cereal is a much healthier option than Rice Cereal. Rice Cereal is very constipating. Quinoa is a good source of natural dietary fiber and is high in protein for a cereal. This also has naturally occurring iron and Vitamin D. I would recommend not starting solids with an infant until they are 7-8 months old as their digestive system often isn’t ready and solids can cause constipation in a baby that isn’t ready for them. A great first food is an organic homemade bone broth, adding cereals at a later time.
- Coffee! Yes, the same coffee we adults love can help your child to have a bowel movement. Coffee can stimulate the movement of the muscles in the colon and can cause peristalsis, the coordinated movement of the muscles in the bowels that causes bowel movements. Caffeine free coffee works also but not as quickly as caffeinated. I would look for an Organic Decaf Coffee. Even decaf has some caffeine so you need to decide if that is something you want to try with your child or not.
- Organic Pear Juice can have a laxative effect on some children and is tolerated by some children with fructose intolerance who can’t tolerate other juices.
- I used Gripe Water with my babies when they were infants. Gripe Water has been used with babies for centuries and is a mix of fennel and ginger root. It helps with gas and can help some babies with having a bowel movement. It is safe for 2 weeks and up.
- A Mini Trampoline has been a must-have for us. My son was diagnosed with low tone by his OT and suggested we get him a trampoline. My son loves his trampoline and will bounce on it multiple times a day. It is a bit of an eyesore in the middle of my living room floor but the benefits outweigh that. My husband and I even joke that it bounces down the poop. Often when he is bouncing my son will have to get off to use the toilet. And it has strengthened his core muscles so that he can push out the stool more easily. For more information on how and why trampolines can help, please read this article: Constipation in Children Caused by Low Tone
I hope this list helps you to help your child in their struggle with constipation. When your pediatrician or pediatric Gastroenterologist tells you that Miralax is the only option, you will know that there are lots of other things to try. And it might also be time to try to find a new doctor. Just about everything on this list is a temporary fix. Long term you need to Find the Root Cause of the Constipation. Once you do that, you can end constipation instead of putting a band-aid on the problem. The article How Do I Solve My Child’s Chronic Constipation? will also give you a game plan to help your child.
When your child is chronically or functionally constipated, it is frustrating and exhausting for both you and your child. It can also be very hard to figure out what interventions are helping to overcome their constipation and what regiment needs to be followed to help them go 1-3 times a day.
It is very helpful to track what you are giving your child and how it is working. It seems like you will remember how much magnesium or how many Chocolate Coconut Oil Poop Candies your child had last Tuesday when they had 2 great BMs, but the reality is that it is very hard to remember everything when you are stressed about your child’s constipation.
To make it easier for you to track the interventions you are using and what impact this regiment has, I want to offer you a free bowel movement tracker chart that you can download and then print off for each week. It will help keep you organized and will give you insight into what works to help you overcome your child’s constipation.
Click on this link and sign up to receive a Free Bowel Movement Tracker Chart to help you find a plan to manage your child’s constipation.
For information on testing that can help you get to the root cause of your child’s constipation please read my post Recommended Lab Testing for Chronic Constipation
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*DISCLAIMER, I AM NOT A DOCTOR OR MEDICAL HEALTH PROFESSIONAL. ALL IDEAS DISCUSSED AND DESCRIBED IN THIS POST ARE MY OWN AND ARE NOT MEANT TO TREAT OR DIAGNOSE. IF YOU HAVE A MEDICAL CONDITION PLEASE SPEAK WITH YOUR DOCTOR.