Promote Healthy Bowel Habits
We adults would probably say our bowel habits benefit from a regular routine and the same is true for toddlers.
Although schedules can, of course, change from day to day, its helpful to provide your child plenty of opportunities to poop throughout the day. If they dont seek out the toilet on their own, be sure to ask them regularly if they need to go.
Meanwhile, if your toddler fears the potty monster or has dug in their heels about ditching diapers, try to stay calm and laid back. The more you stress, the more your child may pick up on tension around all things bathroom-related which wont help constipation.
Speaking of reducing your toddlers stress when it comes to bowel movements, you can also try a gentle tummy massage. When done in a clockwise rotation, this can help get things moving and may even provide a little relaxation and bonding between you and your little one.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Constipation
Your child may be constipated if they have some of the following:
- large and hard poo
- no poo for 3 or more days
- pain or crying when having a poo
- urinary tract infections, wetting pants , bedwetting constipation can increase the risk of these
- liquid poo that may leak out at times in between harder poo
- soiling accidents
- not having enough fibre ready-made food and takeaways are low in fibre
- not doing much physical activity
- not eating and drinking as much as normal, for example when your child is unwell
- a natural tendency to having slower gut movement
Toileting habits are important. Your child can become constipated if they:
- ignore the urge to do a poo
- dont let all the poo come out when going to the toilet
- dont sit on the toilet regularly
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Change What Your Child Eats And Drinks
- eat more high-fiber foods
- drink plenty of water and other liquids if your child eats more fiber
Read about what your child should eat and drink to help relieve constipation.
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What Causes Constipation In Children
Constipation in babies can happen if they aren’t having enough breastmilk or if their formula isn’t made up properly. It can also develop when solid foods are started.
Children can become constipated if they:
- hold back bowel movements, instead of going when the urge arises. This can happen if it’s been painful for them to poo before
- don’t eat enough fibre
- have an illness that makes them eat and drink less
- drink too much milk and don’t eat enough solid foods
- take certain medications, such as some cough medicines
Constipation often affects toddlers during toilet training, and older children sometimes become constipated when starting school. Only a few children get constipated because of a medical condition.
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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How Do Doctors Treat Constipation In Children
Your childs doctor may recommend giving your child an enema or laxative to help treat his or her constipation. Most laxatives are over-the-counter medicines taken by mouth until your childs bowel movements are normal. Your childs doctor may recommend stopping the laxative once your child has better eating and bowel habits. You should not give a child a laxative unless told to do so by a doctor.
If your child is taking an over-the-counter or prescription medicine or supplement that can cause constipation, your childs doctor may recommend stopping it, changing the dose, or switching to a different one. Talk with your childs doctor before stopping any medicines.
Timing Matters For Constipated Kids That Need Quick Relief
Sooooo many kids hold it when they have to go because they are somewhere they would rather not go or they dont want to run in from outside or stop in the middle of playing.
Missing those cues can have a huge impact on how constipated your kid gets. If you happen to be staring at your kid at that moment, you might catch the signal and can rush them off anyways, but sometimes, they hide it well and often we miss that quick moment.
The solution is to have them sit on the toilet at the same time everyday. The best time is usually within 15 minutes after they eat. I try very hard not to turn toilet time into something negative or worse, a power struggle.
I need to give my son lots of warnings throughout the meal and mornings usually work really well. When we are on top of this, it is very helpful.
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Beans Pulses Fish Eggs Meat And Other Proteins
Young children need protein and iron to grow and develop. Try to give your toddler 1 or 2 portions from this group each day.
Nuts also contain protein, but whole nuts, including peanuts, shouldnt be given to children under 5 in case they choke.
Its recommended that boys have no more than 4 portions of oily fish a week, and girls no more than 2 portions a week.
This is because oily fish can contain low levels of pollutants that can build up in the body.
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What Foods Should A Constipated Toddler Avoid
Many find that dairy can make constipation worse, as well as classic binding foods like rice, bread, and bananasyou know, the foods that youd give if your toddler was going too much! .
Aim for more produce and healthy fats than refined carbohydrates if possible. In the case of a dairy allergy or sensitivity, dairy can make constipation worsethough the probiotics in yogurt and kefir may actually help.
TIP: You can try taking a break from cows milk and cheese, but trying a few different yogurt options.
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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.
Things To Do In Constipation
- Guava is a very effective remedy for constipation. You should eat it with its seeds.
- Few people suggest to use the castor oil but I dont recommend. Its not a right choice for your little ones still developing tummy.
- Keep your baby active so that his bowel movements can be more regular.
- Give all the fruit juices in a diluted form otherwise, it can cause diarrhea.
- Try to keep your baby as relax as you can.
- If you are a breastfeeding mom then limit dairy intake in your diet.
- Make a routine of going to the toilet as first thing in the morning. Encourage your child to poop in the morning.
- Ground flaxseed can be used as supplemental fiber.
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Should My Child Use A Fiber Supplement
Many parents ask if fiber supplements would be helpful for their child.
And for some kids, they can be.
BeneFiber and Metamucil are examples.
However, its important to know that any fiber supplement can make constipation worse.
They may be dehydrating, potentially encouraging constipation.
Check with your doctor before using them.
What Causes Constipation In A Child
Stool gets hard and dry when the large intestine takes in too much water.
Normally, as food moves through the colon, the colon absorbs water while it makes stool. Muscle movements push the stool toward the rectum. When the stool gets to the rectum, most of the water has been soaked up. The stool is now solid.
If your child has constipation, the colon’s muscle movements are too slow. This makes the stool move through the colon too slowly. The colon absorbs too much water. The stool gets very hard and dry.
Once a child becomes constipated, the problem can quickly get worse. Hard, dry stools can be painful to push out. So the child may stop using the bathroom because it hurts. Over time, the colon will not be able to sense that stool is there.
There are many reasons why a child may become constipated. Some common diet and lifestyle causes include:
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What Are The Symptoms Of Constipation
Symptoms can occur a bit differently in each child. They may include:
- Not having a bowel movement for a few days
- Passing hard, dry stools
- Having belly bloating, cramps, or pain
- Not feeling hungry
- Showing signs of trying to hold stool in, such as clenching teeth, crossing legs, squeezing buttocks together, turning red in the face
- Small liquid or soft stool marks on a child’s underwear
The symptoms of constipation can be like other health conditions. Make sure your child sees his or her healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
How Can Constipation Cause A Vicious Cycle
Constipation often starts after 1 hard poo has caused pain. The natural response to a painful experience is to try and avoid or escape it in the future. So, the next time your child feels the urge to poo, they hold on in an attempt to avoid passing another painful poo. This results in the poo becoming firmer, larger and even more painful to poo out and your child becomes even more reluctant to poo in the future.
This leads to a vicious cycle:
The key to stopping this cycle is making the poo soft again.
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Stools: How Often Is Normal
- Normal Range: 3 per day to 1 every 2 days. Once children are on normal table foods, their stool pattern is like adults.
- Kids who go every 4 or 5 days almost always have pain with passage. They also have a lot of straining.
- Kids who go every 3 days often drift into longer times. Then, they also develop symptoms.
- Passing a stool should be free of pain.
- Any child with pain during stool passage or lots of straining needs treatment. At the very least, the child should be treated with changes in diet.
When To See A Doctor
If the treatment measures above don’t work, see a doctor for further advice.
Your child needs medical attention if they:
- haven’t done a poo in a week
- poo when they didn’t mean to
- have other symptoms, like fever or vomiting
- aren’t eating or drinking enough
- need laxatives more than a few times per year
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Eating Foods That Cause Constipation
In infants, constipation is rarely a problem, but it can crop up when you start giving your baby solid food.
Baby constipation is merely due to the intestinal tract adapting to the digestion and processing of a more complex food-based diet.
Adding a bit of juice or more water to the diet can help make this transition easier, soften the stools and make them easier to pass.
I had to do this with one of my kiddos when we transitioned off breastmilk and on to a full food diet.
In older kids, diet is often the culprit of constipation.
A lack of fiber and fluids in the diet are two of the most common diet mistakes leading to constipation.
Toddler constipation can occur when kids are picky and have a limited diet.
Often, toddlers stop eating vegetables.
These contain quite a bit of fiber and eliminating them from the diet can lead to constipation.
Also, if you havent introduced whole grains yet, your toddlers diet may be low in fiber.
Foods that cause constipation such as those with little fiber including dairy products, or too many processed foods, may not support normal bowel movements.
Additionally, when kids dont drink enough water in the diet , this can lead to a back up.
Foods To Help With Toddler Constipation #: Green Peas
This easy-to-eat veggie contains lots of fiber and helps your tot reach their daily vegetables needs. Most children arent getting enough in their diets, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dieteticsand can benefit from two to three servings a day.
Serving: Quarter cup or 4 tablespoons for age 4Fiber: 2 gramsHow to offer to your toddler:
- Serve peas mixed with steamed rice.
- Add peas into a veggie and ground turkey soup.
- Stir into mac n cheese.
- Make a pea pesto sauce.
- Consider pea soup.
Pro tip: Green peas are a freezer must! Theyre affordable and perfect for long-term storageplus, toddlers love to eat them frozen. Simply dump these green dreams in a bowl and let your tot enjoy.
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Hope For Kids With Constipation
Figuring out whats causing your childs constipation will be helpful in overcoming it. It will likely take time for your childs intestines to shrink back to their regular size in the mean time.
If something is working in your house that I didnt list here, PLEASE share so that it can help others! Be sure to check out more ways to ease constipation from The Constipation Gurus, a brilliant physical therapist and dietician team that are working to help kids suffering with constipation.
What Is The Best Laxative For Constipation
Osmotic laxatives Osmotic laxatives draw water from the rest of the body into your bowel to soften poo and make it easier to pass. They take 2 or 3 days to work. They include:
lactulose macrogol polyethylene glycol
How to relieve constipation in children?
Give your child prune juice. Prune juice can be mixed with other juices if your child doesnt like the taste. Cut back on constipating foods. Give toddlers and older children fewer foods that might lead to constipation, such as milk and cheese. If possible, take your child for a walk or run. Ease up on toilet training.
How To Know If Your Toddler Is Constipated
Again, defined broadly, constipation in kids will look like fewer than two successful poops per week. But children can still experience discomfort before things get to this point.
If youre parenting a toddler, you know their verbal skills may not have developed to the point where they can pipe up and say, Im constipated!
Still, the signs and symptoms arent too difficult for parents and caregivers to spot.
Watch out for these indicators of constipation in toddlers:
- stools that are hard, dry, or pebble-like
- straining or pain when trying to pass large pieces of stool
Just like with adults, toddlers digestive habits are a delicate balance of multiple factors, from diet to emotional issues to daily routine. Add potty training to the mix and you may find yourself with the perfect storm of digestive delay.
Here are some of the causes of constipation in young kids.
Foods To Help With Toddler Constipation #: Lentils
Lentils are a versatile plant-based protein and a must-have in your toddlers diet. These tiny legumes are loaded with fiber, iron, B vitamins, and copperand help to get your little ones digestive tract moving.
Serving: One-eighth cup How to offer to your toddler:
- Cook lentils into a chili.
- Use them as a delicious taco filling.
- Include lentils in a chocolate muffin recipe.
- Serve up some low-sodium lentil soup.
- Cook lentils into your pasta sauce.
Pro tip: Whether you choose red, green, or brown lentils, theyre all equally packed with fiberand they all need to be rinsed before cooking to help remove any tiny debris that may have been picked up during harvesting.
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Check If Its Constipation
It may be constipation if your child:
- is irritable, angry or unhappy
- soils their clothes
- has poo like ‘rabbit droppings’ or little pellets
- strains or has pain when they poo
- bleeds during or after having a poo, because their poo is large and hard
- has stomach pain that improves after they poo
If you are breastfeeding your baby, they may go a week without having a poo.