Stool Holding Or Withholding Behaviour
This means the child has the feeling of needing the toilet but resists it. The child holds on to the stool, trying to ignore the desire to empty the bowels. This is quite common. You may see your child crossing their legs, sitting on the back of the heels, or doing similar things to help resist the feeling of needing the toilet. Your child may clench his or her buttocks to try to stop the stool from coming out and may seem quite fidgety. Sometimes it seems as though your child is straining to poo, whereas in fact they are straining to hold it in. You may notice smudges of stool on your child’s pants, often when they are unable to hold on any longer. The longer the child holds on, the bigger the stool gets. Eventually the child has to go but the large stool is more difficult to pass and often more painful. This may lead to a bit of a vicious cycle where the child is even more reluctant to open his or her bowels the next time. There are a number of reasons why children may hold on to stools:
- A previous stool that they passed may have been a struggle or painful. So, they try to put off doing it again.
- Their back passage may be sore or have a crack from passing a previous large stool. It is then painful to pass further stools. So, the child may resist the urge to pass a stool.
- They may have a dislike of unfamiliar or smelly toilets, such as at school or on holiday. The child may want to put things off until they get home.
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Treatment Of Chronic Constipation
Treatment of children with chronic constipation is necessary to reduce their risk of developing other complications such as:
- Hemorrhoids, which occur by straining to have a bowel movement
- Anal fissures , which occur when hard stool stretches the sphincter muscle. This can result in rectal bleeding. Learn more about hemorrhoids.
- Rectal prolapse, in which a small amount of intestinal lining pushes out from the anal opening.
- Fecal impaction, which takes place when the hard stool packs the intestine and rectum so tightly that the normal pushing action of the colon is not enough to expel the stool.
- Long-term constipation leading to diverticulitis as an adult.
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Signs Your Child May Be Constipated:
- Newborns Firm stool less than once a day
- Older Children Hard compact stools with 3 to 4 days between bowel movements
- Any Age Large, hard and dry stools associated with painful bowel movements.
- Episodes of abdominal pain that is relieved after a larger bowel movement
- Soiling between bowel movements
A child may become constipated for many reasons including, diet, lack of exercise, emotional issues, an underlying physical problem, or he may simply be too busy. Whatever the cause, constipation is a common problem in kids. Making a few diet and lifestyle changes can help treat and prevent constipation. Never give your child an enema, laxative or stool softener without talking to your pediatrician first.
How To Help A Child Who Is Constipated
This article was co-authored by Laura Marusinec, MD. Dr. Marusinec is a board certified Pediatrician at the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, where she is on the Clinical Practice Council. She received her M.D. from the Medical College of Wisconsin School of Medicine in 1995 and completed her residency at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Pediatrics in 1998. She is a member of the American Medical Writers Association and the Society for Pediatric Urgent Care.There are 13 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 198,295 times.
Constipation is not uncommon in children. Sometimes it occurs during toilet training or in older children who are so absorbed in playing that they don’t take a break to go to the toilet. There are usually some simple lifestyle changes that will help. If lasts for longer than two weeks, then you should see a doctor to find out if medication is necessary.XTrustworthy SourceMayo ClinicEducational website from one of the world’s leading hospitalsGo to source
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Constipation Symptoms In Kids
Everybodys bowels are different, which can make it hard toknow if your child is constipated. Some kids need to go multiple times a day others, every few days. In general, though, its a problem if your kiddo isgoing only a couple of times a week or less. Dry, hard stools especially ifthey are large in diameter or very small are also a sign of trouble.
Unsure if your child is going often enough? Keep an eye outfor these common constipation clues:
- Pain with pooping.
- Stomachache or bloating.
How Much Water Do Kids Need To Drink Everyday
For toddlers, the goal is 16-24 oz., 4-8 year olds should aim for 56 oz. and 9-13 year olds should be getting more than 70 oz. of fluids each day. Thats A LOT of water. About 20% of these fluid recommendations can come from foods, but the rest should be from a beverage, preferably water.
Water rich foods can also help your child reach his goals. Offer things like lettuce, cucumbers, watermelon, strawberries, tomatoes, and cantaloupe.
Give this hydrating slushie a try:
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Foods That Are Constipating
Too much dairy:
Limit to 2 to 3 servings of dairy per day. This includes milk. If they drink more than about 20 ounces or 2.5 cups a day, it can contribute to constipation. So for example, 2 cups of milk and one other dairy serving would be as much as I recommend in a day.
Too little fiber:
Foods made with white flour like bread, white pasta, pancakes, bagels, and waffles will be low in fiber. If they are whole grain they will have more fiber, but if theyre made with regular flour they will be low in fiber.
Meats are also low in fiber. Its okay to eat meat, just keep it in mind if they eat something like a ham and cheese sandwich on white bread, they wont be getting much fiber. This is okay for them to eat, you just want to make sure youre adding fiber rich options on the side.
Too many processed foods:
Foods like chips, cookies, crackers, and lunchables come to mind! Most traditional snacks or pre-packaged meals are low in fiber.
Sudden diet changes:
Starting solid foods is often a time when parents first notice constipation. Your pediatrician may recommend a small dose of fruit juice like prune juice to help with the transition.
If you decide to make a big change like trying the paleo diet, or the Whole30, you may notice constipation as a side effect. Even though those are typically high fiber diets, a sudden change to high fiber from low fiber may cause constipation.
For more specific examples on foods to avoid, read this post.
How Is Constipation Treated
Mild constipation may be treated with dietary changes. Increased fiber in the diet along with normal water or fluid intake may soften the stools. Fruit juices made from prunes, apples, peaches and pears can be used due to their high sorbitol content. Sorbitol works as a mild osmotic laxative. It is important to note that most of the water we drink is reabsorbed in the colon and is not available to soften the stools therefore it is not necessary to drink tons of water. Learn more about the amount of water children should drink each day.Children with soiling or more severe constipation usually require medication. However, making changes in your childs diet at the same time may help wean them from medications more quickly. Getting children, especially toddlers, to change their diet may be a tough task but the extra effort will lead to happier symptom-free children.
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Causes Of Constipation In Children
Constipation in children has many possible causes. Sometimes there’s no obvious reason.
Some of the possible causes include:
- not eating enough high-fibre foods like fruit and veg
- not drinking enough fluids
- feeling pressured or being regularly interrupted while potty training
- feeling worried or anxious about something such as moving house, the arrival of a new baby, or starting nursery or school
If your child is constipated they may find it painful to poo, which may mean they do not want to try to poo. This can create a vicious circle the more they hold back, the more constipated they get.
Foods That Ease Constipation
First, make sure your little one is eating non-binding, low-fat foods that are high in fiber like potatoes, raspberries, whole-wheat pasta, avocado and pears. Because fiber is ingested, but not digested, it adds bulk to the stool that makes it pass through the digestive system more easily. And, of course, theres always prune juice. At the first hint of constipation, we would give my boys organic prune juice/apple juice, which we jokingly called crapple juice. But, hey, it did the trick!
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Symptoms Of Constipation In Children
Your child may be constipated if:
- they have not done a poo at least 3 times in the last week
- their poo is large and hard
- their poo looks like “rabbit droppings” or little pellets
- they are straining or in pain when they poo
- they have some bleeding during or after having a poo, because their poo is large and hard
- they have a poor appetite or stomach pain that improves after they poo
If your child is over 1 year old, soiled pants can be another sign of constipation, as runny poo may leak out around the hard, constipated poo. This is called overflow soiling.
Is Your Child Constipated Symptoms Of Constipation In Kids
There are certain circumstances that make it obvious your child is constipated. When theyre quite young and youre changing diapers every day, you KNOW if theyre gone #2 and exactly how many times. But, as your children get older, it can be a bit trickier to monitor their bathroom habits without flat out asking, Kiddo, have you pooped today?
Plus, every kid has unique bathroom habits. Some go once a day and thats their normal. For others, its more like 2-3 times a day and thats their standard. Whatever the case may be for your kids, here are some of the signs and symptoms that would suggest your child is constipated.
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Remedies To Try At Home
There are several remedies you can try at home to manage your childâs constipation:
- Make sure your child is getting enough fluids. Most kids need about 3 to 4 glasses of water every day.
- Add more fiber into your childâs diet. Make sure they’re eating enough fruits, grains and vegetables. Fiber keeps things moving.
- Make sure your child isnât overdoing fast food and junk food. They slow down digestion.
- Limit sodas and tea. They have lots of caffeine in them.
- Get your child into the habit of regular bowel movements. Have them try for at least 10 minutes two times a day. After a meal is a good time.
If these things donât seem to do the trick, talk to your childâs doctor about using a mild, child-friendly laxative or stool softener.
Possible Health Benefits Of Fiber
Fiber-rich foods can prevent constipation and promote smooth bowel movement. Besides this, fiber-rich foods can help :
Constipation is a bothersome gastrointestinal condition that can affect children across ages. Prompt dietary and lifestyle changes can treat and prevent the condition effectively. Encourage your child to consume a variety of high-fiber foods, drink plenty of water, and stay active to maintain a healthy gut and body.
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How To Treat Your Child’s Constipation
If you think your child may be constipated, take them to a GP. The treatment for constipation depends on your child’s age.
The longer your child is constipated, the more difficult it can be for them to get back to normal, so make sure you get help early.
Laxatives are often recommended for children who are eating solid foods, alongside diet and lifestyle changes.
It may take several months for the treatments to work, but keep trying until they do. Remember that laxative treatment may make your child’s overflow soiling worse before it gets better.
Once your child’s constipation has been dealt with, it’s important to stop it coming back. A GP may advise that your child keeps taking laxatives for a while to make sure their poo stays soft enough to push out regularly.
Types Of Constipation In Children And Babies
- Idiopathic constipation. This is common. The word idiopathic means of unknown cause. Various factors may be involved but many children become constipated for no known reason:
- Short bouts of constipation. It is common for children and babies to have a bout of mild constipation for a day or so. This may settle quickly, often without the need for medical treatment.
- Long-term constipation. In about 1 in 3 children who become constipated, the problem becomes more long-term . This is also called chronic idiopathic constipation.
- Constipation due to an underlying disease or condition. This is uncommon. The constipation is said to be secondary to this other problem. Some examples of conditions and problems that can cause constipation are:
- Some neurological conditions.
- Rare diseases with abnormal development of the bowel, such as Hirschsprung’s disease.
- As a side-effect of certain medications that a child has to take for another condition.
Treatment may involve treating the underlying condition in addition to tackling the constipation. Worrying symptoms or signs that may indicate a secondary cause include the following. These should be mentioned to your GP. It is also possible that some of these symptoms could mean your child is more seriously unwell:
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