What to do when your child is constipated after antibiotics

What to do when your child is constipated from anitbiotics How to repopulate their gut bacteria and get them having normal bowel movements again after a round of antibiotics

Antibiotics often cause constipation in children

If your child has been put on antibiotics like penicillin, amoxicillin, doxycycline or other antibiotic and then develops constipation, the antibiotic is probably the culprit. Antibiotics kill off bad bacteria that is making your child sick but they also kill off good bacteria that helps your child to digest their food properly. The infection that your child is taking the antibiotic can also alter your child’s gut bacteria, leading to constipation

My son was hospitalized for 5 days with Salmonella at age 16 months and was put on IV antibiotics. He needed the antibiotics to save his life, but the antibiotics damaged his gut bacteria. He struggled with constipation after this and unfortunately, no doctor suggested that I put him on probiotics. Antibiotic use was a huge contributing factor in my son’s struggle with chronic constipation. Overcoming his constipation was my inspiration for beginning this website. Improving his gut bacteria and healing the damage done to his gut with the antibiotics made a huge difference in ending his constipation battle.

Probiotics can help combat constipation caused by antibiotics

Probiotics help childhood constipation by repopulating your child’s gut with beneficial bacteria. According to the findings of a pool of studies published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition probiotics “increased the number of weekly bowel movements by 1.3, and helped soften stools, making them easier to pass. Probiotics that contained Bifidobacterium appeared to be the most effective.”

Repopulating your child’s gut bacteria after a round of antibiotics is critical to helping them with their antibiotic induced constipation.

How long after taking a probiotic will your child’s constipation improve?

Probiotic101 states that probiotics can start to work in the gut to repopulate gut bacteria in as little as 2-3 hours but it can take weeks for the probiotic to make a difference in your child’s constipation. How long your child has been on an antibiotic, how strong the anitbiotic, what their gut health was like before taking the antibiotic, and the strains of bacteria in the probiotic you are giving your child, can all impact how long it will take before you see significant improvement in their constipation.

If your child does not produce a bowel movement within 12 hours of starting the probiotic or if your child hasn’t had a bowel movement in more than two days, you may need to dose your child with a magnesium supplement like Natural Calm Magnesium to help them have a bowel movement quickly. My article on Natural Calm Magnesium for constipation relief in Children will help you to determine if this is a good option for your child and will help you with dosing.

What is the best probiotic brand to give my child to combat their constipation?

My favorite probiotic for constipation in children of all ages is Visobiome. It comes in pills and sachets.  (Amazon Links) You can mix the powder from the sachet into cold food for your child if they can’t or won’t swallow a pill. You can also open the pills up and use the powder in the pills.  Visobiome isn’t dairy free but my husband, who is sensitive to dairy, has no issues with the minute amount of dairy in Visobiome and is very happy with the results. Visobiome is shipped in an insulated box with a cold pack.

Garden of Life Raw Probiotics are shipped cold from Amazon and many members of my Facebook group, Natural Constipation Solutions, have reported excellent success with them. This probiotic also contains Inulin, which is a prebiotic fiber. For some children, it can worsen constipation and for some, it improves it. Keep an eye on your child if you are trying it and if you see any increase in constipation, stop immediately. This probiotic is safe for infants 3 months and up so it is a good option for infants, toddlers and older children who have been on antibiotics.

If you are dealing with constipation in your baby, there is a wonderful option from Klaire Labs called Ther-biotic infant probiotic. If your baby has been on antibiotics, then adding in a high-quality probiotic can also help with repopulating their gut flora. You can mix it with formula or put some on your nipple if you are breastfeeding.

For Toddlers and older children aged 2 and up, Klaire Labs makes a Children’s Chewable Ther-Biotic.  From what I understand, it isn’t shipped with an ice pack when you order it from Amazon.  I suggest putting it in the refrigerator as soon as you receive it.

For older children and teens, Klaire Labs Ther-biotic Complete Powder is also a good option. You can sprinkle it on food or mix it with cold drinks or soft foods.

All of these probiotics contain Bifidobacterium, which has been shown to help with constipation in studies.

Our guts are meant to have tens of thousands of different strains of bacteria and when you use the same probiotic with just a few limited strains of bacteria for long periods of time, you end up populating your gut with millions of copies of just a few strains of bacteria. It is so much better than no good bacteria because you then your gut gets overrun with bad bacteria, but it still isn’t the best solution. Make sure that the next bottle of probiotic has different strains than the previous bottle so you are introducing the most variety of bacteria possible into your child’s gut.

Other ways to improve gut bacteria in children after antibiotics

Even the best probiotics have limitations. When you look at a bottle of probiotics it will state how many billion live cultures it contains. This sounds very impressive. But the truth is that these are just billions of copies of a very limited number of bacteria.  

Most probiotics contain 1-13 strains of bacteria and those few strains are multiplied over and over again until you get X Billion copies of the same strain.  

Fermented foods and drinks can contain trillions of wild bacteria from the air and you get more variety of types of bacteria than you will ever get from a store-bought probiotic. Plus, wild lacto-fermented foods and drinks are significantly cheaper than buying a high quality probiotic.

But I know that it isn’t always possible, or practical, to rely on just fermented foods and drinks for gut bacteria. Adding in a rotation of high-quality probiotics can make a huge difference in gut health.

It can be hard to convince your child to eat or drink fermented foods.  Although I will also say, that many people figure their kids will never eat anything fermented so they don’t even try.  You might be surprised!  My son is relatively picky when it comes to the taste and texture of foods. He doesn’t love every fermented food I make, but he adores my fermented carrots and pickles. He thinks that fermented carrots are a huge treat and he loves his “probiotic lemonade.”

This fermented lemonade can be customized for your child’s taste. You can use lemon or lime depending on what your child likes. My son loves limes so we usually use that as a base.  

Fermented Lemonade Made with Probiotics
2 liters of water
1 organic lemon’s juice
1-4 capsules of probiotic
1-2 Tbs organic sugar

Add 2 liters of water to a container. Add lemon juice, probiotic and sugar. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Cover loosely with a cloth or coffee filter. Steep overnight on the counter and then put it in the fridge until it is cold or serve over ice.  

Another great way to get beneficial bacteria into your child’s intestines is to go to different locations and breathe different air. Traveling to the beach, the mountains, the desert, National Parks, the lake, the mountains and anywhere in between, is a good way to expand your gut bacteria. Plant a garden and encourage your kids to play in the dirt with you, help you weed, pick cherry tomatoes off of the vine and eat them without washing them. Even if you live in an apartment you can grow herbs or a cherry tomato plant on your balcony or in a window.  Take your kids to the park and let them play in the sandbox.  Let them run on the grass with bare feet and breath in diverse bacteria in the air and from the soil. Exposing your child to different air and soil can make a huge improvement after they have been on a round of antibotics.

Tracking your bowel movements can help you to develop a regiment that helps you to find the natural remedy for your constipation.  To get a free bowel movement tracker please click

Free Bowel Movement Tracker

I would like to invite you to join my Facebook groups People Against Miralax or Natural Constipation Solutions for more information on how to treat constipation and for support on your journey.  

What to do when your child is constipated from antibiotics.  How to repopulate your child's gut bacteria so they will be able to have normal bowel movements after being on a round of antibiotics.
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