Soap suds work in enemas for short-term remedies in constipated children. The purpose is to make the stool softer while increasing the urge for a bowel movement. The soap irritates the lower intestine so that it begins the bowel movement, notes the University of Virginia School of Medicine.
The agitating action of the soap causes the lower intestine to secrete salt and water as part of beginning the bowel movement. Other enema ingredients that also work with children include a combination of molasses and milk as well as Fleet Phospho-Soda, a combination of sodium phosphate and water. Often, these enemas are the first intervention after a change of diet fails to help the child make regular bowel movements, as stated by the University of Virginia School of Medicine.
Two other alternatives to enemas also work for children suffering from constipation. Laxatives are medicines designed to flush the lower intestine out by trapping water in the intestine, using it to soften the stool sitting there, and initiating diarrhea. Magnesium citrate, Colyte, MiraLAX and Fleet Phospho-Soda are four of the more commonly used laxatives with children. Suppositories, inserted through the rectum, agitate the bottom of the intestine, making it squeeze and produce a bowel movement. Glycerine, BabyLax and Dulcolax are three frequently used suppositories for children, states the University of Virginia School of Medicine.