How to give pediatric enemas

Updated April 17, 2017

Enemas are given to children whose bowels are blocked, or impacted. They make it easier for your child to have a bowel movement, breaking down the impaction, allowing the built-up fecal matter to pass through his system more easily. If you notice his underpants are soiled or feel a lump in his lower abdomen, chances are an enema may be necessary. However, it is important to give the enema correctly and in the right dose to avoid serious health complications.

Choose the enema. There are two types of enemas which are safe for use on children: mineral oil and normal saline enemas; if choosing normal saline, you must make it at home. Mineral oil enemas can be purchased without a prescription from your local drugstore, as can Fleet's phosphate enemas. Fleet's state on the package that they are saline, however if choosing this for your child, it is imperative for you to use the correct dosage. Using too much or giving more than one a day can be dangerous for your child. Both mineral oil and Fleet's enemas are prepackaged, disposable enemas, and the dosage, which is listed on the package, is set according to your child's age and weight.

Make a normal saline enema. If you choose to use a normal saline enema, you need to make it yourself. Simply add 2 level tsp of table salt into a quart of lukewarm distilled water. The dosage for these enemas is as follows: ages two to six--170gr.; six to 12--12 oz.; 13 to adult--454gr.

Prepare your child. Before administering the enema, give your child one to two glasses of water. The enema may cause dehydration from loss of bodily fluids, and drinking water beforehand can prevent this.

Position your child. The best position for your child to be in when getting an enema is on her stomach with her knees pulled into her chest. This allows the fluid from the enema to flow easier as it descends into her colon. It also helps relieve pressure that builds up in her rectum while the fluid from the enema begins to fill her colon.

Give the enema. If using a disposable enema, lubricate the tip and gently insert into his rectum. As you do so, tell your child to push as though he is having a bowel movement; this helps make the insertion easier. If the fluid does not flow right back out when begin squeezing the bottle, you know the tip is inserted far enough. If giving a home made enema, place the correct amount of solution in the bag and lubricate the tube before inserting it. Raise the bag two feet above your child's rectum, allowing the fluid to drain gradually through the force of gravity; this process usually takes five to 10 minutes.

Make him wait. Upon completion of the enema, it is common for your child to feel a strong urge to release its contents. However, for the enema to be effective, he needs to wait between five and 15 minutes before using the bathroom. To help him, hold his cheeks together while he remains on his stomach with his knees pulled in. Tell him to take deep breaths which will help him relax and reduce the urge to have a bowel movement right away.


Enemas should not be used on any child under the age of two. When giving a homemade enema, lower the bag to slow down the flow if your child begins to experience stomach cramps.

Things You'll Need

  • Fleet's phosphate enema
  • Mineral oil enema
  • Enema bag
  • Enema tube
  • Distilled water
  • Table salt
  • Lubricant
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About the Author

Based in Jamestown, Pa., Hannah Rice Myers has more than 10 years of experience as a freelance writer, specializing in the health industry. Many of her articles have appeared in newspapers, as well as "Curing Epilepsy: Hope Through Research." Rice Myers received her master's degree in nursing from Upstate Medical University in 2001.