Is The Low FODMAP Diet For Constipation Effective For Children?


If your heart is breaking seeing your child struggle with constipation, then you are probably wondering if the low FODMAP diet for constipation is an option.

In this blog post, we’ll dive headfirst into the effectiveness of the Low FODMAP diet for constipation in children. 

As awareness about irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and its impact on little ones grows, it’s crucial to explore dietary interventions that can bring relief. 

I understand the unique challenges that come with nurturing children’s digestive health. 

That’s why in this blog post, we’ll be delving into the efficacy of the Low FODMAP diet for constipation. 

Get ready to discover how whether this dietary approach might just be the game-changer your child needs to bid farewell to discomfort and embrace healthy soft stools.


What are the most common causes of constipation?

Let’s explore the most common causes of constipation in children. 

Did you know that 1 in 3 children struggle with constipation? 

It’s a fairly common digestive issue so understanding the underlying causes is key. 

Here are the common causes of childhood constipation:

  • Inadequate bulking (previously called insoluble fibre) and fermentable fibre (previously known as soluble fibre) in the diet
  • Inadequate fluid intake
  • Certain medications like iron supplements can affect bowel movements
  • Changes in routine or environment
  • Emotional factors like stress or anxiety
  • Medical conditions such as hypothyroidism, neurological disorders, cow’s milk protein allergy or irritable bowel syndrome

Identifying the root cause of constipation in children is crucial to help you develop an effective treatment plan for your child. 

By addressing these underlying causes, you can take proactive steps towards relieving constipation to improve your child’s digestive health


What is the FODMAP diet?

The FODMAP diet is an evidence-based diet trial to reduce the intake of certain types of carbohydrates.  

In this short-term elimination diet, the goal is to see if reducing FODMAPs can reduce digestive symptoms, including constipation, diarrhoea, bloating and abdominal pain. 

FODMAPs are a group of fermentable sugars found in various foods, such as certain fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and dairy products.

The acronym FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols. 

These carbohydrates are not easily digested in humans.

During digestion, the fermentation of FODMAPs can cause discomfort in adults and children with sensitive digestive systems or conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Elimination diet for constipation

The FODMAP diet involves a two-phase process. 

The first phase is the elimination phase, where high-FODMAP foods are temporarily removed from the diet to assess their impact on symptoms. 

This phase is usually followed by a reintroduction phase, where specific high-FODMAP foods are gradually reintroduced to identify individual triggers.

It’s important to note that the FODMAP diet should be undertaken under the guidance of a qualified paediatric registered dietitian who specialises in digestive health. 

They can provide personalised guidance and support to ensure that your child’s nutritional needs are met while following the FODMAP diet trial.

By understanding the principles of how FODMAPs work, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge to make informed decisions about whether it’s a suitable approach for your child’s constipation.

What is the Low FODMAP diet?

The low FODMAP diet is a specialised process that focuses on reducing the intake of high-FODMAP foods to alleviate constipation. 

It can be described as an IBS diet plan for constipation and diarrhoea.

It involves carefully selecting and consuming foods that are low in FODMAPs while avoiding or limiting those that are high in FODMAPs. 

By following this dietary approach, individuals, including children, with digestive issues can potentially find relief from constipation and related symptoms.


Benefits of a Low FODMAP diet

If you are considering the low FODMAP diet for your child, there are several enticing benefits to explore. 

This medically prescribed dietary approach offers a structured method to identify and eliminate specific foods that may be causing digestive issues in children.

The low FODMAPs diet can be used to identify if certain foods are triggering constipation, bloating and abdominal pain. 

By following a low FODMAP process, you can gain insights into your child’s unique triggers and provide them with much-needed relief. 

This is a very limited diet.

It should only be commenced under the guidance of a registered dietitian who is trained to teach the FODMAPs diet.

By working in collaboration with a MONASH University-certified paediatric dietitian,  you’ll be shown how to implement the diet correctly and whether the diet is necessary in the first place.

How to follow a Low FODMAP diet

Embarking on a Low FODMAP diet for your child requires careful planning and guidance. 

Here are some essential steps to help you navigate the journey:

  1. Consult with a healthcare professional: Before starting the Low FODMAP diet, it’s crucial to seek guidance from a medical doctor to rule out other medical conditions.
  2. Work with the right registered paediatric dietitian: experienced in this dietary approach. They can provide personalised advice and support tailored to your child’s needs.
  3. Understand the FODMAP groups: Familiarise yourself with the different FODMAP groups and low fodmap foods. Consider fermentable carbohydrates or fodmaps such as lactose, fructose, polyols and oligosaccharides. 
  4. Certified low FODMAP foods: Depending on where you live, your child might be able to take advantage of certified low fodmap foods during the elimination stage.
  5. Reintroduction phase: You’ll be shown how to reintroduce specific FODMAP foods one at a time while monitoring your child’s IBS symptoms. 
  6. Personalise the diet: Once you have determined your child’s specific trigger foods, you can personalise their Low FODMAP diet for constipation accordingly. This may involve reducing certain high FODMAP foods or modifying portion sizes to maintain IBS symptom control. It’s crucial that the diet remains nutritionally balanced to promote normal growth and development in children and adolescents.
  7. Seek ongoing support: Throughout the Low FODMAP diet process, ongoing support from a registered dietitian or healthcare professional is crucial. They can help answer questions, provide recipe ideas and offer guidance on maintaining a well-rounded diet while managing your child’s symptoms.

Remember, the Low FODMAP diet for constipation should be undertaken with professional guidance.  

This helps to make sure your child’s nutritional needs are met while managing their constipation effectively.


Is a low FODMAP diet good for IBS-C?

Research has shown the effectiveness of the low FODMAP diet for IBS constipation. 

However, it’s important to consider it as one of the options and not the first line of treatment. 

Before diving into a low FODMAP diet trial, let’s explore some other approaches that can help improve your child’s constipation symptoms.

In my clinical practice, I have seen simple lifestyle modifications make a significant difference in alleviating IBS-C symptoms in children. 

Here are my top 3 tips to improve constipation:

  1. Boost Fibre Intake: Encourage your child to eat a good range of fibre-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. These foods provide the necessary bulk and promote regular pain-free bowel movements.  Aim for a mix of soluble and insoluble fibre (now called fermentable and bulking fibre) so that stools are not large, hard and lumpy.
  2. Encourage fluids: Make sure your child is drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day. Clear or straw-coloured urine is a good indicator of adequate hydration. Good fluid intake helps soften the stool and ease bowel movements.
  3. Promote activity/exercise: Regular physical activity can stimulate the digestive system and promote healthy bowel function. Encourage your child to engage in activities they enjoy, such as biking, swimming or playing outdoor games.

If despite these lifestyle changes, your child’s IBS constipation symptoms persist or haven’t improved sufficiently, it may be worth considering a low FODMAP diet trial. 

It’s important to note that the low FODMAP diet should be viewed as a short-term trial rather than an elimination diet for life.

The goal of the trial is to identify specific FODMAPs that may be triggering your child’s symptoms. 

After the trial period, a careful reintroduction process helps determine which FODMAPs can be tolerated and incorporated back into their diet, providing more flexibility while managing symptoms.

Remember, it’s always crucial to work with your registered gut health paediatric dietitian before embarking on a low FODMAP diet trial. 

In my Happy Belly Club, I can assess your child’s specific situation, guide you through the process, and ensure that their nutritional needs are met throughout the trial period. 

Together, we can work towards finding the best approach to manage your child’s IBS-C and improve their overall well-being.

Is a low FODMAP diet safe?

Yes, when followed under the guidance of a registered pediatric dietitian, a low FODMAP diet is considered safe for children. 

It is important to note that the low FODMAP diet is designed to be a short-term intervention and not a long-term dietary plan.

By working closely with a registered pediatric dietitian, you can ensure that your child’s nutritional needs are met on the low FODMAP diet trial. 

They will help you develop a well-balanced meal plan that includes alternative sources of nutrients and guide you through the process of eliminating and reintroducing specific FODMAP groups.

It’s also worth mentioning that the low FODMAP diet is not recommended for everyone. 

It is typically reserved for children with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) type constipation or other digestive disorders where FODMAPs are known to trigger symptoms. 

Therefore, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional to determine if the low FODMAP diet is appropriate for your child’s specific situation.

Overall, with proper guidance and monitoring, a low FODMAP diet can be a safe and effective tool in managing IBS symptoms.


Low FODMAP foods for constipation

Here are some food groups that are generally considered low FODMAP.

Including these foods can help alleviate constipation in children:

  1. Fruits: Bananas, berries, oranges
  2. Vegetables: Carrots, courgette and spinach
  3. Grains: Rice, oats and quinoa
  4. Proteins: tofu, tempeh 
  5. Nuts and seeds: Almonds, peanuts, chia seeds
  6. Beverages: Water, herbal teas (peppermint), lactose-free milk or low FODMAP plant milk alternatives

Individual tolerance to specific foods can vary.

Work with a Kid’s IBS Paediatric dietitian to create a personalised low FODMAP meal plan for your child. 

This will ensure that their nutritional needs are met while managing IBS constipation effectively.

Can the FODMAP diet help with constipation?

The FODMAP diet has been making waves in managing symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and you might be wondering if it’s worth a shot for your child’s constipation. 

Here’s the lowdown:

If you’ve exhausted all other strategies to help your child with constipation, then, it may be worthwhile considering the FODMAP diet trial. 

By cutting out or reducing high FODMAP foods known to trigger digestive issues, this diet can work its magic and bring some relief to those uncomfortable symptoms. 

Your child may finally discover improved bowel regularity!

But here’s the thing: the FODMAP diet’s effectiveness can be a bit hit or miss. It’s like finding the perfect pair of shoes – it may fit like a glove for some, while others might not feel much of a difference. 

To navigate this diet maze, it’s important to consult a Kid’s IBS paediatric dietitian. You’ll also find support inside my Happy Belly Club.

Registered paediatric dietitians can evaluate your child’s specific situation and guide you through the process. 

Plus, they’ll be there to answer all your burning questions and provide the proper support you need along the way. 

Remember, the FODMAP diet shouldn’t be embarked upon blindly for children and adults. 

With the right professional guidance, you can determine if it’s the right fit for your child and ensure you’re on the right track to manage their constipation. 


Starting the low fodmap diet without medical advice

Now, here’s the deal: diving headfirst into a low FODMAP diet without proper medical guidance can be a bit risky, especially when it comes to helping your child with constipation. 

Constipation can be caused by different factors, like not getting enough fibre, not drinking enough water, or even some underlying health issues. 

So, before you grab that FODMAP diet plan, it’s crucial to consult with an expert like a MONASH-certified paediatric dietitian. 

Let’s talk about the dangers of low FODMAP diet without dietetic advice:

  1. Missed diagnoses: You don’t want to miss the mark here. Constipation can sometimes be a symptom of other underlying problems like thyroid issues or certain medications. By self-diagnosing and hopping on the FODMAP diet train without expert guidance, you might overlook these other potential causes and delay getting the right treatment for your child.
  2. Nutritional gaps: The low FODMAP diet restricts certain foods that are actually good for children’s guts.  To limit the dangers of a low fodmap diet, do not unnecessarily cut out all fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Without proper guidance, it can be tough to make sure your child is getting all the essential vitamins, minerals, and fibre they need. That’s why having an expert on board is essential to keep the nutritional balance in check.
  3. Unnecessary restrictions: Not all kids with constipation need to wave goodbye to a whole bunch of foods. By going DIY on the FODMAP for constipation, your child might unnecessarily cut out whole food groups from their plate, which can limit their food choices and potentially affect their overall nutrition. 
  4. Messing with the gut: The FODMAP diet can disrupt the healthy balance of beneficial gut bacteria. Without proper guidance, you might accidentally disrupt the balance of the good gut bacteria. This can lead to more tummy troubles down the road. 

Natural ways to relieve constipation

Here are my top tips for naturally relieving constipation for your child

  • Try an evidence-based probiotic (see Probiotics for Thriving Kids Masterclass)
  • Add kiwifruit to relieve constipation
  • Start chia puddings to help soften stools
  • Swap white bread for wholemeal bread to increase soluble and fermentable fibre
  • Encourage children to eat the skins of fruits and vegetables (this type of fibre can help add bulk to stools).  Especially helpful for children with chronic constipation.

What can you do to reduce constipation for your child?

Can kiwifruit help with constipation?

Kiwifruit, known for its high fibre content, can be beneficial in relieving constipation in children, especially those with chronic constipation. 

It’s also one of the low FODMAP foods for constipation.

With its unique water-holding capacity, the fibre in kiwifruit helps soften hard stools, making them easier to pass. 

To learn more about the role of golden or green kiwifruit in alleviating constipation, check out the blog post titled: Golden Kiwi or Green Kiwi for Constipation?

Other constipation-causing foods

When it comes to managing constipation, it’s important to be cautious about certain foods that can contribute to the problem. 

While children require a balanced intake of fibre-rich foods and fluids, it’s best to avoid giving them fibre supplements. 

Giving your child more fibre than necessary can actually exacerbate constipation. 

Additionally, foods like bran may seem high in fibre, but they can worsen constipation for some children. 

If you’re tired of struggling with your child’s constipation and would like to gain the knowledge and confidence to manage it effectively, don’t hesitate to inquire about my Happy Belly Club.


In conclusion, children with persistent constipation secondary to irritable bowel syndrome may find the low FODMAPs diet suitable. 

However, it’s crucial to be aware that the diet is highly restrictive and may have lower calorie and nutrient content, which are essential for normal growth and development. 

It is recommended to undertake the elimination phase of the diet under the guidance of a trained paediatric dietitian experienced in teaching the low FODMAPs diet for IBS. 

It’s important to prioritise first-line dietary modifications before considering the FODMAP process.

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