We all know how uncomfortable constipation can be, so imagine what it must feel like for little kids…ugh! That’s why a recent study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology caught my eye.

The study suggests that a combination of two things may be involved in higher incidences of constipation in children: 1. introducing gluten in the first year of life, and 2. an allergy to cow’s milk.

This is not surprising when you consider that the digestive tracts of infants are still very sensitive, especially in the first months of life. Not only that, but their immune systems are weaker, which means they are more susceptible to pretty much everything.

So the bottom line? When it comes to little tummies, it’s better to wait on the gluten and cow’s milk until they are more ready to handle it. And yes, some children may eat it and be fine (or appear fine), but I say better safe than sorry! There are plenty of substitutes for gluten and cow’s milk these days, even for infants.

All this is important because childhood constipation has been linked to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in adults, so if your child has chronic constipation, be sure to take a look at his or her diet. Other dietary factors to think about are fiber intake (since fiber helps promote regular bowel movements) and intestinal balance. In babies who are not breast fed, who were delivered by cesarean section, or who have been treated with antibiotics, there is a greater risk for an altered intestinal flora balance, so a daily probiotic supplement may be helpful in these situations.