Staying Healthy Healthy, Happy Tummies The Best Laxatives for Kids Who Just Can't Go Our pediatric dietitian recommends these safe and effective laxatives for kids By Jenny Friedman, MS, RD Updated on June 7, 2023 Medically reviewed by Tyra Tennyson Francis, MD Share Tweet Pin Email We independently evaluate all recommended products and services. If you click on links we provide, we may receive compensation. Learn more. Photo: Parents / Jaclyn Mastropasqua If your little one has some difficulty going to the bathroom, you’re not alone. Constipation affects approximately 30% of children. Those kids may experience discomfort, pain, disrupted sleep, and disrupted appetite—making relief from constipation a top priority. And while they shouldn't always be the first solution you reach for, there are laxatives kids can take safely to help them go. Ways to avoid constipation in kids can include eating more high fiber foods, increasing fluids, physical activity, and optimizing both toilet posture and bathroom schedules for toddlers. If these changes aren't helping your child's constipation, a healthcare professional may recommend taking a laxative as an effective and easy solution to bring constipation relief. When selecting a laxative for your child, you and a healthcare professional want to look at how the laxative works as well as the form of delivery. For example, laxatives can be chewable, mixed in drinks, or given as a suppository. 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. A Note About Supplements Dietary supplements are minimally regulated by the FDA and may or may not be suitable for you. They also may interact with other supplements or medications your child is taking. Please always speak with a healthcare provider first to discuss any supplements you plan on giving a child. Best Overall: Fletcher's Laxative for Kids Amazon Buy on Amazon Buy on Walmart Buy on Walgreens Why We Like It: This easy to take liquid laxative has a kid-friendly root beer flavor and is affordable. But Take Note: There is no clear third-party testing for this brand, and it should be noted some, while gentle, some kids may still have some digestive discomfort when first using this laxative. Fletcher’s Laxative for Gentle Relief Laxative is a stimulant laxative that promotes bowel movements and can provide relief within six to 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) The Details: Recommended age: 2 and upActive ingredient(s): senna pod concentrateForm: liquidType: stimulant laxativeDose: Children 6 to 15 Years: 2 to 3 teaspoonfuls 1 to 2 times daily. Children 2 to 5 Years: 1 to 2 teaspoonfuls 1 to 2 times daily.Other notable ingredients: nonePotential allergens: none Best Fiber: Yerba Prima Psyllium Whole Husk Amazon Buy on Amazon Buy on Walmart Why Take It: This laxative powder is easy to add to a child's favorite drink and has a mild, subtle taste. It's also our most affordable laxative for kids that we recommend. But Take Note: It's only recommended for children 6 years and older and must be consumed immediately after being prepared to avoid thickening of the liquid. You want to ensure that any supplement you give a child 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 the best dose for kids. Because of this, we recommend consulting a healthcare professional before using a psyllium supplement so they can monitor the dosage, symptoms, and progress for your child. 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. 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 less than the recommended one teaspoon) 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 be unappealing to a kid. Lastly, note this is recommended for children 6 years and older. Do not give to children under 6 years unless directed by a healthcare professional. Price at time of publication: $15 ($0.07 per teaspoon serving) The Details: Recommended age: 6 years and upActive ingredient(s): psyllium huskForm: powder to mix with liquidType: soluble fiberDose: 1 teaspoon up to 3 times dailyOther notable ingredients: nonePotential allergens: none Best for Infants: Mommy’s Bliss Baby Constipation Ease Organic Constipation Support Amazon Buy on Amazon Buy on Target Buy on Riteaid.com Why We Like It: This easy to use liquid is NSF certified and has no harsh ingredients, chemicals, or common food allergens and can be used on infants as young 6 months. But Take Note: It should be thrown away after six weeks of opening. 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) The Details: Recommended age: 6 months and olderActive ingredient(s): prune concentrate, organic fennel, polydextroseForm: liquidType: natural supplement and prebioticDose: 6 mo – 3 yr: 1 teaspoons (5ml), Children over 3 yr: 2 teaspoons (10ml), Adults: 2 tablespoons (30ml); up to 2 times dailyOther notable ingredients: nonePotential allergens: none Best for Picky Eaters: MiraLAX Laxative Powder Amazon Buy on Amazon Buy on Walmart Buy on Target Why We Like It: This pick can be a good choice for the pickiest of eaters, as it has a neutral taste, texture, and odor, and it mixes easily into any drink. But Take Note: There's no clear third-party testing, and it can take 24-48 hours to see results. Polyethylene glycol (PEG) 3350, the active ingredient in MiraLAX, has been safely and effectively used in adults for years to provide constipation relief, and healthcare professionals have recommended it to help kids poop too. 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 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 also notes that MiraLAX 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) The Details: Recommended age: 1 year and upActive ingredient(s): polyethylene glycol 350Form: PowderType: Osmotic laxativeDose: dependent on the child’s age, weight, and constipation severity; consult with a healthcare professionalOther notable ingredients: nonePotential allergens: none Best Chewable: Dulcolax Kids Soft Chews Saline Laxative Amazon Buy on Amazon Buy on Walmart Buy on CVS Why We Like It: Kids will enjoy taking this chewable, yummy flavored laxative, and it can work in as little as 30 minutes. But Take Note: There's no clear third-party testing, and it's only recommended for kids 4 years and older. If having a child take a pill, powder, or liquid supplement sounds challenging, a soft chew laxative may be your best 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 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) The Details: Recommended age: 4+ yearsActive ingredient(s): magnesium hydroxide USP 1200 mgForm: soft chewableType: osmotic laxativeDose: children 4-6 years 1 chew; children 6-12 years 1-2 chews; children 12+ years 2-4 chewsOther notable ingredients: corn syrup, red # 40, hydrogenated coconut oilPotential allergens: soy, coconut Best Fast-Acting: Pedia-Lax Glycerin Laxative Target Buy on Amazon Buy on Walmart Buy on Target Why We Like It: This can be a fast laxative solution for kids who will not take oral supplements. It can work within 15-60 minutes and has minimal side effects. But Take Note: Suppository is not best laxative form for all kids, and it's only recommended for kids 2-5 years. 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) The Details: Recommended age: 2-5 yearsActive ingredient(s): glycerinForm: liquid suppositoryType: osmotic laxativeDose: 1 4-ml suppository per dayOther notable ingredients: nonePotential allergens: none Best Gummy: Mary Ruth’s Kids Magnesium Calm Gummies Mary Ruths Buy on Amazon Why We Like It: Most kids will enjoy taking the recommended one gummy per day serving. It's suitable for vegan diets, and we love that it's third-party tested. But Take Note: It does contains stevia and sugar alcohols, which may not be preferable for all. While it may help with constipation relief, it's not specifically a laxative. 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 to kids. 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) The Details: Recommended age: 2+yearsActive ingredient(s): magnesium citrateForm: gummyType: supplement, osmotic laxativeDose: 1 gummyOther notable ingredients: soluble tapioca fiber, organic stevia leaf extract, organic sunflower oilPotential allergens: none 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. Otherwise healthy children who need temporary relief are the ones who might benefit from laxatives. 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. Based on our pediatric dietitian’s recommendations and research, we chose the safest laxatives in a variety of forms 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. Our Review Process Our team works hard to be transparent about why we recommend certain supplements. 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. We interviewed experts like New York-based pediatrician Arunima Agarwal, M.D. and Sarah Anzlovar, MS, RDN, LDN. Natalia Stasenko, MS, RD, founder of the Easy Bites app, also gave clarity for what the different types of laxatives are and when they are best used. Factors to Consider When Choosing a Kids' Laxative 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: 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. 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. 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. Sometimes products tested by these three companies are more expensive to try to offset the cost they pay for certification. 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. They can provide the same end result, but each one works differently. 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 and 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. Your Questions, Answered 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 these symptoms sound familiar, 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. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources Parents 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. Colombo JM, Wassom MC, Rosen JM. Constipation and encopresis in childhood. Pediatr Rev. 2015;36(9):392-401; quiz 402. doi:10.1542/pir.36-9-392 Non-pharmacologic approach to pediatric constipation. Complementary Therapies in Medicine. 2021;59:102711. doi:10.1016/j.ctim.2021.102711 Shulman RJ, Hollister EB, Cain K, et al. Psyllium fiber reduces abdominal pain in children with irritable bowel syndrome in a randomized, double-blind trial. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2017;15(5):712-719.e4. doi:10.1016/j.cgh.2016.03.045 Roy D, Akriche F, Amlani B, Shakir S. Utilisation and safety of polyethylene glycol 3350 with electrolytes in children under 2 years: a retrospective cohort. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2021;72(5):683-689. doi:10.1097/MPG.0000000000003074 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 Mínguez M, López Higueras A, Júdez J. Use of polyethylene glycol in functional constipation and fecal impaction. Rev Esp Enferm Dig. 2016;108(12):790-806. doi:10.17235/reed.2016.4571/2016 Siegel JD, Di Palma JA. Medical treatment of constipation. Clin Colon Rectal Surg. 2005;18(2):76-80. doi:10.1055/s-2005-870887 Rondanelli M, Faliva MA, Tartara A, et al. An update on magnesium and bone health. Biometals. 2021;34(4):715-736. doi:10.1007/s10534-021-00305-0 Constipation in children. HealthyChildren.org. FDA. Questions and answers on dietary supplements. Texas Children’s Hospital. Over-the-counter medications for kids – part 2: constipation, gas/indigestion and probiotics. Ho J, How C. Chronic constipation in infants and children. Singapore Med J. 2020;61(2):63-68. doi:10.11622/smedj.2020014 Nurko S, Zimmerman LA. Evaluation and treatment of constipation in children and adolescents. Am Fam Physician. 2014;90(2):82-90. Xinias I, Mavroudi A. Constipation in Childhood. An update on evaluation and management. Hippokratia. 2015;19(1):11-19.