Giving a Child an Adult Enema

Updated on June 01, 2012
L. asks from Mobile, AL
14 answers

Hi All,

We recently took my seven-year-old daughter to the pediatric GI specialist for hard-to-treat reflux. She suspects that her intestines might be backing up into her stomach, so she recommended that we give her an adult Fleet enema followed by a prescription laxative treatment to totally clear things out. I'm thinking a children's enema sounds traumatic enough. Anyone ever used an adult enema on a child? What should I expect?

Additional information as requested: yes, an x-ray did seem to indicate back-up. I didn't give much more info because I wasn't really looking for a "mamasource diagnosis"--just some practical experience anyone might have to share on using the enema. Her history is pretty complicated, but I didn't think I needed to share all for what I'm looking for here today. In any case, it is my understanding that digestive motility issues can contribute to reflux (in fact some secondary meds are used to correct this)--basically, if things aren't moving through easily, the system is more likely to back up and lead to reflux. I do appreciate the concern about diagnosis, but mostly I'm hoping to hear about how enemas may have gone for others. ;-)

And a bit more: I am a pescatarian (vegetarian diet plus fish/seafood) who buys almost exclusively whole grains and many fruits/veggies--the problem seems to be anatomical. I don't expect this to permanently solve the problem, but it would certainly give insight into the problem if it relieves symptoms, and then we could look at how to maintain a clearer system. Again, I'm not looking for alternative diagnoses or treatments--just stories from those with experience--thanks to all who've shared. In any case, please do not respond with products you sell! Sorry--a pet peeve.

Many thanks.

What can I do next?

  • Add your own comment
  • Ask your own question
  • Join the Mamapedia community
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

Thanks, All, for the support. The enema went okay (the nurse said they use adult enemas in this situation because they want more fluid). After crying and stress and fear, she was willing to try it and then asked me questions like, "Is it in?" and "Are you squeezing it?" so I guess that part wasn't so bad! It did hurt her coming out though (the poop--the force and quantity, I guess), and she said the solution was stinging her back side. Still, after about 10 minutes (she resisted letting it out, so it took a while for it all to come out) we were okay again. Later, on the Miralax, she was delighted to have what she described as a Jack-in-the-box poop; I don't think I even realized that trouble she's been having with constipation, so I really hope we're on the right track. Thanks, again.

Featured Answers


answers from Dallas on

I would be concerned about causing a tear in the colon. That could be very dangerous. Can you get another opinion?

Edit My Answer
2 moms found this helpful

More Answers



answers from Dallas on

If the dr told you to give it to her she must think its bad enough for an adult dose.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

an enema is an enema is an enema, none are pleasant and i dont see it doing damage just a little more flush.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Redding on

A fleet enema doesn't have all that much fluid in it.
I had to have them used on me when I was that age too. No harm done.
If you are worried about the nozzle being too large, I'm sure it isnt, the sphincter is an amazingly adaptable muscle.
And actually when I had to have my enemas they used the regular ol' enema bag which holds quite a bit more fluid than a fleet.
I was a holder of my poop, got really backed up a lot. My mom has a picture of me when I was 4 that looks like I'm pregnant. I held my poop till I was 10. It was a crazy time. The enemas are miracle workers tho, if she's impacted she is going to feel so much better when it all comes out.
If this is the case, just be sure to feed her lots of fiber and lots of hydration so she can keep things moving after she's cleaned out.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

My mother had to use one on me when I was about that age so all I can offer is my memory of it. It was not traumatic in the least. Uncomfortable, yes but not traumatic. My only wish was that my mother had explained how the wait time was going to be difficult. In fact the wait time was excruciating because the need to go was huge. I was hopping from foot to foot and squeezing for all I could muster. TMI but honest. I think if you explain the process to your daughter and just stay with her trying to distract her, you’ll both be fine. I am sure the doctor recommended the adult enema for a reason so I would follow his or her advice. Good luck and many well wishes for your daughter being on the mend soon.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

The only difference between a children's enema and an adult one would be the amount of fluid in the bottle. The doctor wants you to use the adult one because the goal is to wash all that feces out of her intestines. I'm not sure that there is even a child's enema.

You follow the directions on the bottle. Administering an enema is the same for children and adults.

It will only be traumatic if you make doing it a big deal. Explain the process as you go.

Perhaps you haven't given yourself an enema and so aren't sure of the process? You could give yourself one first, without your child present to reassure yourself that it really is a simple process.

Or, if you're still uncomfortable with it, ask the doctor's office if you could bring her in so that their medical assistant could administer the enema. If that isn't possible they can at least describe the process.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

This is a red flag to me! My youngest was so backed up that we had to do an enema to relieve the constipation. The child dose was more than enough for her. It only took 3 seconds for it to start working. Did they do x-rays to confirm her being backed up? That was the first thing our ped GI doctor had us do. Can you get a second opinion? Wal-Mart sells a individual dose of the Fleet Pedia-Lax enema. It is for ages 2 to 11 so I see no reason why it would not work on your daughter. As for the traumatic experience - there was none and she was 4 at the time. My husband said that she told him it tickled and then she laughed and told him the medicine was coming back out. Obviously it was not just the medicine! LOL!!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

So you saw a GI Specialist.
Your daughter has reflux.
Did the Doc do an x-ray? To see if her body is backed up? Or does she just suspect it? They can do an x-ray to make sure if there is blockage.

So, if she is getting backed-up internally, does she have Constipation or Encopresis????
This is what enemas are used for etc.

When my daughter was a Toddler, she had bad Constipation. We saw a Pediatric Gastroenterologist Doctor. He said, no enemas for kids nor laxatives. This was for my daughter's bowel problems and constipation. It was a BM problem.
However, your child is 7.
I just don't understand.... what reflux has to do with her getting backed up internally and then needing an Enema?
Is this common?
So if you could perhaps explain this more in your post.
My understanding is that reflux can cause a rise of the stomach acids... back up into the esophagus. But that it is not a constipation problem. Enema use, per adults, are for bowel problems.

Here are interesting articles about Enema use and its precautions:

One of the articles says, to NOT use Adult strength Fleet Enemas on children.

Laxatives, are typically used for poop problems. Not reflux.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

I would talk to a pharmacist first to feel better about the docs request. This way they can tell you what the outcomes of using this medication and possible side effects you should be watching for.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dayton on

We've used an adult enema on a 7 yr old, but we used half. The ped GI dr said that was exactly the same as doing a pediatric enema. Maybe you could split it in 2 and do one in the morning and one at night if that would ease your mind. We had my son lay on his side and watch TV. It was not a pleasant experience but it was doable. I would be ready to help carry her to the potty b/c it can come fast. Hope it works for you!



answers from Denver on

This does seem a bit excessive. We gave my then 2 1/2 year old son a child enema and he ended up having a prolapsed colon and I wonder if it is because he go too much enema (he was severly backed up, the worst the urgent doc had seen)? I don't know. Would the doc be okay with you giving a child dose one? Between that and the laxative, she will definitely get cleaned out.



answers from Erie on

I used one on my son before he had the barium/xray, to diagnose encopresis. I do believe it was the adult one because we had to be sure to get as far up as possible. We got through that and the xrays with the joke "Rectum? Damn near KILLED 'em!" My son would go into a fit of giggles every time he heard me say it. Luckily the medical staff was in a humorous mood that day :D He didn't scream, I just kept talking to him as he held it, to keep him in good spirits.


answers from Lynchburg on

Hi L.-

My first thought was to say...expect an explosion!

I would personally try something made for kiddos first...and then revisit the issue if things don't 'clear up' (or out) so to speak.

Just a thought.
best luck!



answers from San Antonio on

Just had to give one a week ago...gack!! I used a child's sized one not an adult and it cleaned him out just fine.

If you don't have it get some KY gel as the "pre-lubricated" tip is a joke.

And warn the neighbors about the screams...oh, the screaming...

When my pediatrician told me that was what was needed I knew I was really a mom now to be able to do that...big hug to you and good luck!!

Next question: 6 Year Old in Pain - BM Question *Tmi*