The 7 Best Laxatives to Help Kids Poop for 2023

Fletchers Laxative is a tasty, affordable, and effective laxative for kids

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The 7 Best Laxatives to Help Kids Poop of 2022

Mary Ruth's / Amazon

If your little one is having some difficulty going to the bathroom, you’re not alone. Constipation affects approximately 30% of children. Side effects can include discomfort, pain, disrupted sleep, and disrupted appetite—so finding relief is top priority.

Lifestyle changes to help minimize constipation can include eating more high fiber foods, decreasing constipating foods, increasing hydration and physical activity, and optimizing both toilet posture and bathroom schedules. When these changes don't relieve a child’s symptoms, a healthcare professional may recommend laxative as an effective solution to ease discomfort and promote a bowel movement

When selecting a laxative for your child, you want to look at how the laxative works as well as the form of delivery to find one that will be most effective and accepted by your child. In order to recommend the best laxatives for kids, our pediatric dietitian combed through the research, utilized her experience working as a pediatric dietitian, and consulted with trusted pediatric medical professionals.

Verywell Family Approved Laxatives for Kids

  • Best Overall: Fletchers Laxative is a versatile option suitable for kids 2 years and older. We like that it has a kid-friendly root beer flavor and provides gentle, quick results. 
  • Best Fiber: Yerba Prima Psylium Whole Husk is recommended for children 6 years and older. It is third-party tested, can easily be added to liquids, and you can easily adjust dose as needed or recommended.

Always speak with a healthcare professional before adding a supplement to your routine to ensure that the supplement is appropriate for your individual needs and which dosage to take.

Are Laxatives Beneficial for Kids?

With so many diet and lifestyle factors involved in helping kids poop, you might be wondering if laxatives for kids are really necessary. Sarah Anzlovar, MS, RDN, LDN, dietitian for moms and owner of Sarah Gold Nutrition, LLC suggests constipation prevention and resolution should first be addressed without using a laxative. Start with serving your child a variety of fiber-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds, ensuring that they are well hydrated, and getting adequate exercise

When these approaches are not enough, a laxative can be beneficial to help move things along.  

Laxatives for kids may most benefit otherwise healthy children who need temporary relief. Typically, stool softeners and osmotic laxatives are the first-line medications used for treating short and long-term constipation in otherwise healthy children. “Laxatives should only be used when the child needs relief and other strategies known to help get things moving aren't working,” says Anzlovar.

Laxatives can be potentially dangerous for children and should only be used under guidance of a healthcare professional. Before you add a laxative to your child’s daily routine, be sure to get the OK from a healthcare provider. 

Who May Not Benefit from Laxatives?

Laxatives for kids are generally safe when used as recommended, but they are not always the best choice. “Laxatives are essentially a bandaid…If you don't address the underlying issue, it's likely that the constipation will return,” says Anzlovar.

Not all laxatives are intended for long term use, and some cause uncomfortable side effects like gas and bloating, so most health professionals recommend implementing lifestyle changes alongside starting a laxative to ensure bowel health.

Those who may not benefit from laxatives include:

Children who are able to regularly pass a bowel movement without pain: In this instance, it is likely you do not need a laxative to help your child poop. Making lifestyle changes like adding foods with fiber and proper hydration should be adequate to help keep bowel regularity or help with occasional constipation.

Children under 6 months of age: Most laxatives are not recommended for children younger than six months. If your baby is under six months of age, and you notice it’s been longer than normal since the last bowel movement, contact a healthcare provider. 

Children with underlying health conditions: While laxatives for kids can be effective, they may mask the root issue causing constipation. Certain health conditions or medications could be the root cause of constipation in kids. In this instance, instead of using a laxative consistently, a healthcare provider can help determine the best treatment plan for any underlying issues.

Based on our pediatric dietitian’s recommendations and research, we chose the safest laxatives for kids with the most research-backed ingredients, and supplements with the lowest risk for harmful contaminants. Even so, it is important to note that a healthcare professional should always be consulted before trying any of these laxatives for kids.

Best Overall

Fletcher's Laxative for Kids

Fletcher's Laxative For Kids

Amazon

Pros
  • Kid-friendly root beer flavor 

  • Inexpensive

  • Gentler form of active ingredient

Cons
  • No third-party testing 


Fletcher’s Laxative for Gentle Relief Laxative is a stimulant laxative that promotes bowel movements and can provide relief within 6-12 hours. It’s our top pick because of its easy accessibility, good taste, and efficacy. 

Fletcher’s contains senna pod concentrate. This form of laxative is thought to be a more gentle alternative to senna leaf which has been used as constipation relief for centuries.  It has been shown to be as effective for treating constipation in kids as polyethylene glycol—the main ingredient in Miralax.

We love that the root beer flavor makes it an easy “yes” for most kids. Keep in mind that the maximum dosing is only two times per day.

Senna-based laxatives are not known to cause any long term side effects, but your child may experience diarrhea or abdominal cramping when first starting out. Therefore, it may be best to start with a lower dose to check a child’s tolerance for this laxative.

Price at time of publication: $5 ($0.28 per teaspoon serving) 

Recommended age: 2 and up | Active ingredient(s): senna pod concentrate | Form: liquid | Type: stimulant laxative | Dose: Children 6 to 15 Years: 2 to 3 teaspoonfuls 1 to 2 times daily. Children 2 to Under 6 Years: 1 to 2 teaspoonfuls 1 to 2 times daily. | Other notable ingredients: none | Potential allergens: none

Best Fiber

Yerba Prima Psyllium Whole Husk

Yerba Prima Psyllium Whole Husk

Amazon

Pros
  • Subtle taste

  • Inexpensive

Cons
  • Recommended for children 6 years and older only  

  • Must be consumed immediately after being prepared

When it comes to your children, you may want to ensure that any supplement you give them is third-party tested, well tolerated, and easy to consume. Yerba Prima’s Psyllium Whole Husk checks all these boxes, and we love that it contains no additional ingredients or additives. A healthcare professional may recommend this for a laxative to increase a child’s fiber intake to help with constipation.

Psyllium is one of the most commonly recommended fibers for treating adult constipation. While it is known to be safe in children, more evidence is needed to solidify dosing recommendations. Psyllium may also be recommended from a healthcare professional for children with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), as some research has shown psyllium can help reduce abdominal pain associated with IBS. Always consult a healthcare professional before using a psyllium supplement so dosage, symptoms, and progress can be monitored.

Like all fibers, psyllium husk can cause gas and bloating, especially when first starting. You can safely customize the dose of Yerba Prima’s psyllium to a child’s needs and tolerance. We recommend starting with a small dose (even below recommendation of 1 tsp) to minimize symptoms or as directed from a healthcare professional. 

This product is gluten free, dairy free, and soy free and can be easily mixed into a liquid to consume. It’s important to drink it right away, as it will quickly thicken after mixing which may make an unappealing texture. Lastly, note this is recommended for children 6 years and older. Do not give to children under 6 years unless directed from a healthcare professional. 

Price at time of publication: $15 ($0.07 per teaspoon serving)

Recommended age: 6 years and up | Active ingredient(s): psyllium husk | Form: powder to mix with liquid | Type: soluble fiber | Dose: 1 teaspoon up to 3 times daily | Other notable ingredients: none | Potential allergens: none

Best for Infants

Mommy’s Bliss Baby Constipation Ease Organic Constipation Support

Mommy’s Bliss Baby Constipation Ease Organic Constipation Support

Amazon

Pros
  • NSF certified 

  • Suitable for children under 6 months

  • No harsh ingredients or common food allergens

Cons
  • 6-week shelf life

  • More expensive

Constipation relief options are limited for infants. If an infant does need constipation help, our top pick is Mommy’s Bliss Baby Constipation Ease Organic Constipation Support. We like that it is a medication-free option that provides relief to infants through a combination of prune concentrate and organic fennel. We also love the inclusion of prebiotics in this baby-geared laxative to help promote digestive health. 

Mommy’s Bliss Baby Constipation Ease is vegan and free of artificial colors, flavors, common food allergens, and parabens. It is also NSF certified meaning it has been tested to ensure the product contains exactly what is listed on the label without potentially harmful contaminants.

It’s important to note this choice is recommended for infants six months or older. If you want constipation help for infants younger than six months, consult a healthcare professional.

Price at time of publication: $12 ($0.52 per teaspoon serving)

Recommended age: 6 months and older | Active ingredient(s): prune concentrate, organic fennel, polydextrose | Form: liquid | Type: natural supplement and prebiotic | Dose: 6 mo – 3 yr: 1 teaspoons (5ml), Children over 3 yr: 2 teaspoons (10ml), Adults: 2 tablespoons (30ml); up to 2 times daily | Other notable ingredients: none | Potential allergens: none

Best for Picky Eaters

MiraLAX Laxative Powder

MiraLAX Laxative Powder

Amazon

Pros
  • Neutral taste, texture, and odor

  • Mixes easily into any drink

Cons
  • No third-party testing 

  • Can take 24-48 hours to work

Polyethylene glycol (PEG) 3350, the active ingredient in MiraLAX, has been safely and effectively used in adults for years to provide constipation relief, and it has also been used by healthcare professionals to help kids poop.

While there has been some controversy with using PEG-based supplements like MiraLAX in kids, studies suggest it is an effective and safe treatment for functional constipation in kids one year and older. It is used for both short and, in some instances, long term use, and some research suggests it can have lower rates of side effects compared to other laxatives for kids.

Despite current studies showing safety and because of controversy of using MiraLAX in kids, there is an ongoing clinical trial looking at the metabolites of PEG3350 in children who take this form of MiraLAX and children who do not take it. MiraLAX should only be used under the guidance of a healthcare professional, and they will also be able to address any individual concerns.

New York-based pediatrician Dr. Arunima Agarwal, MD says, “There are no scientific studies showing adverse events from MiraLAX in kids. I feel this product is safe for use in children with constipation.” She also suggests diet-based strategies—like increasing fiber and fluids—as a first line of defense for treating constipation. 

Agarwal says, “It’s important to discuss with a [healthcare professional] before using this supplement to make sure something else isn’t going on. I always monitor and follow-up with patients [who are taking MiraLax].”

Under a healthcare professional’s guidance, MiraLAX is our top pick for picky eaters because it can be mixed completely into beverages without changing the taste or texture and needs to be taken only once a day. The major downside is that it can take up to two days to see results. 

Dr. Agarwal suggests an important note to remember with MiraLAX is it will not work if the child does not drink enough fluids while on this supplement. 

Price at time of publication: $17 ($1.70 per packet)

Recommended age: 1 year and up | Active ingredient(s): polyethylene glycol 350 | Form: Powder | Type: Osmotic laxative | Dose: dependent on the child’s age, weight, and constipation severity; consult with a healthcare professional | Other notable ingredients: none | Potential allergens: none

Best Chewable

Dulcolax Kids Soft Chews Saline Laxative

Dulcolax Kids Soft Chews Saline Laxative

Amazon

Pros
  • Can work in as little as 30 minutes

  • Good taste

  • Easy-to-take

Cons
  • No third-party testing

  • Recommended for kids 4+ only

If having a child take a pill, powder, or liquid supplement sounds challenging, a soft chew laxative can be a good solution. Dulcolax Soft Chews are safe for kids 4 years and older and are stimulant-free. A positive of being stimulant-free is that there is a lower chance of uncomfortable side effects like cramping that can add stress and discomfort around going to the bathroom. The active ingredient in this chew that gives it a laxative effect is magnesium hydroxide.

Another plus for this supplement is that most kids won’t need more than one or two chews per day, and the fruity flavors can make them a good option for picky eaters. 

The thing that really makes Dulcolax Soft Chews shine, however, is the speed with which they can work. Many children will have a bowel movement within 30 to 120 minutes of taking a single tablet.

Note that a full glass of water (or other liquid) needs to be taken with each dose. This product may not be recommended if a child is on prescription medication, has kidney health issues, or has nausea or vomiting.

While Dulcolax Soft Chews are gluten-free, they do contain several additional ingredients you may want to consider, including corn syrup and artificial color Red #40. Also note Dulcolax does not mention any third-party testing for products.

Price at time of publication: $8 ($0.53 per chew)

Recommended age: 4+ years | Active ingredient(s): magnesium hydroxide USP 1200 mg | Form: soft chewable | Type: osmotic laxative | Dose: children 4-6 years 1 chew; children 6-12 years 1-2 chews; children 12+ years 2-4 chews | Other notable ingredients: corn syrup, red # 40, hydrogenated coconut oil | Potential allergens: soy, coconut

Best Fast-Acting

Pedia-Lax Glycerin Laxative

Pedia-Lax Glycerin Laxative

Target

Pros
  • Works within 15-60 minutes 

  • Minimal side effects

  • Option for children who will not take oral supplements

Cons
  • Suppository not best for all

  • Suitable for kids 2-5 only

If you need something that will work fast to provide constipation relief, we recommend Pedia-Lax’s Glycerin Laxative. This choice is a suppository, which means it is inserted into your child's rectum via a small applicator provided in the kit. It can help provide relief within minutes for a constipated child. 

On the other hand, using a suppository can be a turnoff for many families, and you will want to consult with a healthcare professional before using this product. If it is the recommended route for you, Pedia-Lax provides a kid-friendly lubricated tip with a mess-free applicator to make things as easy as possible. 

Children with disabilities, who withhold stool, or who are not able to or struggle to take things by mouth may especially benefit from using this type of laxative. Additionally, if a child has side effects from other laxatives, a healthcare professional may recommend this fast acting laxative option.

Price at time of publication: $21 ($3.56 per suppository)

Recommended age: 2-5 years| Active ingredient(s): glycerin | Form: liquid suppository | Type: osmotic laxative | Dose: 1 4-ml suppository per day | Other notable ingredients: none | Potential allergens: none

Best Gummy

Mary Ruth’s Kids Magnesium Calm Gummies

Mary Ruth’s Kids Magnesium Calm Gummies

Mary Ruth’s

Pros
  • One gummy per day recommended serving

  • Suitable for vegan diets

  • Third-party tested

Cons
  • Not designed specifically for constipation

  • Contains stevia and sugar alcohol

If you’re looking for a natural laxative supplement that can provide occasional relief, we suggest Mary Ruth’s Kids Magnesium Calm Gummies. While not specifically intended for constipation management, this product contains magnesium citrate which is known to ease constipation by pulling water into the intestines.

Magnesium plays an important role in bone health, so this supplement may have an added bonus of providing this bone-building nutrient. A healthcare professional can provide further guidance if a child can take this gummy long-term or if it should be used to provide temporary constipation relief.

We love that these gummies are tasty and easy to take–just one sugar-free hibiscus-flavored gummy is recommended for kids 2 years and older. Mary Ruth’s Kids Magnesium Calm Gummies are certified organic, vegan, non-GMO, and free of nuts, gluten, wheat, soy, corn, and sugar. The sweet flavor comes from stevia leaf and the sugar alcohol erythritol, and it is free from artificial colors.

Mary Ruth’s products are third-party tested for accurate ingredient amounts, microbial contaminants, and heavy metals.

Price at time of publication: $23 ($0.38 per serving)

Recommended age: 2+years | Active ingredient(s): magnesium citrate | Form: gummy | Type: supplement, osmotic laxative | Dose: 1 gummy | Other notable ingredients: soluble tapioca fiber, organic stevia leaf extract, organic sunflower oil | Potential allergens: none

How We Select Supplements

Our team works hard to be transparent about why we recommend certain supplements; you can read more about our dietary supplement methodology here

We support supplements that are evidence-based and rooted in science. We value certain product attributes that we find to be associated with the highest quality products.

It's important to note that the FDA does not review dietary supplements for safety and effectiveness before they go to market. Our team of experts has created a detailed, science-backed methodology to choose the supplements we recommend.

What to Look For:

Third-Party Testing 

Supplements that are third-party tested are sent to a lab where they are tested to ensure they contain what they say they contain and are not contaminated with specific high-risk, common contaminants. However, it’s important to note:

  1. Third party testing does not test to see if a product is effective or safe for everyone, and it does not ensure the supplement will not interact with other supplements or medications.
  2. Not all third-party testing is created equal. It is not uncommon for supplement companies to pay labs for certificates after conducting minimal to no testing. 
  3. The third party certifications we can trust are: ConsumerLab.com, NSF, and USP. However, these certifications are difficult to obtain and/or expensive for manufacturers, so many companies choose not to get their products tested by one of these three organizations. 
  4. Sometimes products tested by these three companies are more expensive to try to offset the cost they pay for certification.
  5. Just because a supplement is not tested by one of these three companies, it does not mean it’s a bad product. We recommend doing some research on the reputability of the manufacturer, and calling up the manufacturer and their testing lab to determine their protocols and decide if you feel comfortable consuming the supplement.

Form 

There are four main types of laxatives for kids: stool softeners, osmotic laxatives, lubricant laxatives, and stimulant laxatives. Stool softeners draw moisture into the stool, osmotic laxatives attract water in the intestines, lubricant laxatives coat the stool to make it more slippery and easier to pass, and stimulant laxatives stimulate the rectal muscles to push the stool out.

Natalia Stasenko, MS, RD, founder of the Easy Bites app says, “Stool softeners and osmotic laxatives are usually preferred choices for many practitioners. Stimulant laxatives may cause dehydration, flatulence and cramping, so they are usually reserved for older children and extreme cases.” 

These various laxative types can take many forms including: powder, gummies, chews, liquid, or a suppository. A healthcare professional can help determine what the best laxative form is for each child based on their needs.

Ingredients & Potential Interactions 

It is essential to carefully read the ingredient list and nutrition facts panel of a supplement to know which ingredients and how much of each ingredient is included. 

Please bring the supplement label to a healthcare provider to review the different ingredients contained in the supplement and any potential interactions between these ingredients and other supplements and medications your child is taking.

Certain laxatives are not recommended for some health conditions. For example, Stasenko says, “Some osmotic laxatives should be used carefully in children with kidney problems.”

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do I know if my child’s constipation is serious?

    Constipation is characterized by less than two bowel movements per week, fecal incontinence, retentive posturing, and painful, hard or large diameter stool. Constipation is serious when it is causing your child regular discomfort, when there is blood in the stool, or it is interfering with their daily life. 
    If a child meets these criteria for constipation, it is important to work with a healthcare team for long term treatment options. Stasenko says, “We usually do not recommend a long term use of [laxatives for kids] and prefer to improve digestion with dietary and stress management techniques.”

  • How often should my child be pooping?

    The number of bowel movements a child has in a day decreases with age. An infant averages 2-4 stools per day which decreases to one per day or every other day by the time they are toddlers. While every child is different, you generally want to see at least 3-4 bowel movements per week for older children.

  • What can I do to help prevent constipation in my child?

    To prevent constipation, serve your child a variety of foods including a mix of fiber-rich foods like fruits and vegetables with the skin on, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds. It's also important to make sure they're drinking enough fluids and moving their body regularly.

    Alvarez notes that it may be helpful to “limit the amount of milk [your child] drinks, as too much cow's milk can be constipating for some kids.” While milk is an important source of nutrients for many children, we recommend that they don't drink more than 16 to 20 ounces per day.

  • What laxatives should I avoid giving my child?

    Most healthcare professionals suggest avoiding chronic use of stimulant laxatives and consulting with a medical professional before beginning enemas. Stasenko says, “Lubricant laxatives can be helpful in cases with serious fecal impaction but should be avoided in infants and children with uncoordinated swallow.”
    A healthcare professional can help determine what laxative treatment is best for your child and which ones you should avoid.

  • How much do laxatives for kids cost?

    The price of laxatives for kids ranges from around $5 to $25 depending on the type of laxative, servings per container, and the ingredients used. Some laxatives like psyllium husk are as low as $0.07 per serving, while a suppository can be over $3 per individual use.

14 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  3. Shulman RJ, Hollister EB, Cain K, et al. Psyllium fiber reduces abdominal pain in children with irritable bowel syndrome in a randomized, double-blind trialClin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2017;15(5):712-719.e4. doi:10.1016/j.cgh.2016.03.045

  4. Mansour HA. Effectiveness of polyethylene glycol 3350 versus lactulose in management of functional constipation in children. International Journal of Pediatric Research. 2022;8(1):89. doi:10.23937/2469-5769/1510089

  5. Roy D, Akriche F, Amlani B, Shakir S. Utilisation and safety of polyethylene glycol 3350 with electrolytes in children under 2 years: a retrospective cohortJ Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2021;72(5):683-689. doi:10.1097/MPG.0000000000003074

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  8. FDA. Questions and answers on dietary supplements

  9. Texas Children’s Hospital. Over-the-counter medications for kids – part 2: constipation, gas/indigestion and probiotics.

  10. Ho J, How C. Chronic constipation in infants and childrenSingapore Med J. 2020;61(2):63-68. doi:10.11622/smedj.2020014

  11. Nurko S, Zimmerman LA. Evaluation and treatment of constipation in children and adolescentsAm Fam Physician. 2014;90(2):82-90.

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