Pros: works without cramps or runs, softens stool, dissolves in any beverage, no taste
Cons: expensive, hard to pour opening
Never did I think my days of being a mom would revolve around pooping. But thats just what happens once you have kids. Happy days are when your kids go, once, neatly (in a diaper as an infant or in the toilet later on); miserable ones are when your kids havent gone in three or four days and are severely constipated. My daughter is three and constipation has been a part of her life since she began potty training. Shell feel the need and stop herself and its gotten to the point where shell be scared to go to the bathroom to pee for fear that something else might try to sneak out of her. Shes finally getting better but its been a long road and Ive spent many a day searching for and sitting in bathrooms, and calmly coaxing my little girl. At her three-year-old checkup, her pediatrician prescribed Polyethylene Glycol. It worked and Ive since been buying the over-the-counter version, MiraLAX.
MiraLAX is a laxative that has been on the market for a while but only recently became available without prescription. The main (and only) ingredient, polyethylene glycol (PEG), is a flexible, water-soluble polymer used in everything from toothpastes to lubricant eye drops to Dr. Pepper that works to soften stool and relieve occasional constipation, generally in 1 to 3 days. The directions for adults and children 17 and older are to mix a capful (17 grams) of the white powder once a day into 4 to 8 ounces of fluid and drink and to use no more than 7 days in a row. The bottle does not specify dosage for children under 17 and directs pregnant and nursing women to consult a health professional first. This 17.9 ounce (510 grams) bottle contains 30 once-daily adult doses/capfuls, which easily translates into 3 times that amount for my daughters prescribed one teaspoon a day dosage.
Polyethylene glycol 3350, 17 grams
I was trying all sorts of natural remedies (more water, more fiber, hot fennel seed water, etc.) for about 6 months before I heard about MiraLAX and decided to ask my daughters pediatrician. Ive suffered with constipation in the past and couldnt imagine giving my three-year-old a laxative that would cramp her up or leave her running for the bathroom at all hours. I had heard from a mom of an infant that MiraLAX worked great on her then 1-year-old and I had also heard that it had worked well on a friend when she was pregnant. If it was safe enough in those situations, I figured it would be worth a shot for my 3-year-old.
Fortunately for my wallet, our doctor prescribed a large bottle of straight polyethylene glycol 3350, which our insurance covered other than a mere $2 or so. It worked well so I did dish out the big bucks this time around for a bottle double that size of MiraLAX at Wal-Mart for about $18. Previously, I did buy a 4.1 ounce bottle for about $6.
I stir in one teaspoonful of the MiraLAX powder into my daughters morning beverage (either milk or juice), as advised by her doctor, and try to get her to drink the full 6-8 ounces within an hour or so. The powder granules dissolve pretty easily in most beverages. The bottle says you can use hot, cold, or room temperature drinks. I generally use cold drinks, but it does dissolve faster in hot ones. If I dont mix vigorously at first, the powder will clump up on the spoon. But a little more mixing afterward breaks it up.
My daughters never complained about the taste or any grittiness. The couple of times I tried this powder I did notice that some particles dont dissolve evenly so there are scattered powder particles, especially in cold drinks. But theres no taste and no grittiness like Metamucil-type powders.
Although this is a laxative, I dont find that it cramps my daughter up or that it gives her the runs. Instead, it seems to work more like a stool softener to help her push everything out in one go. It doesnt work in that usual 8-hour laxative time frame either. Instead, it usually takes 2-3 doses to alleviate constipation. My daughter still has to push, so its not like this stuff really makes her go, but her stool doesnt consist of tiny rock-hard pebbles. My daughters been using it on and off for 5 months and it really helps her. Ive tried weaning her off of it several times, but we keep coming back to it at least a couple times a week to keep her regular.
This large bottle is a little hard to pour. The cap is a typical push-down-and-turn cap and theres no dispenser underneath. The granules are fine and do pour out in a rush if youre not careful, especially if youre pouring onto a spoon like I have to instead of inside the cap. I had the same problem with the prescribed generic bottle and with the 4.1 ounce bottle of MiraLAX.
Other than the lack of a good dispenser under the cap, this stuff is great. It doesnt seem to have any side effects, it dissolves in any beverage, it doesnt have any taste or grittiness (other than a little undissolved powder in colder beverages), and it works without cramping or giving my daughter the runs. Yes, its expensive, but its worth it.
One sidenote: My husband freaked out when he found out we were feeding our daughter polyethylene glycol once a day. In his words, "Isn't that car lubricant?" No, it's not. That's polyalkylene glycol. But it definitely left me Googling for 10 minutes.