Constipation in Toddlers

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Constipation in toddlers is often a concern for parents. Whether you call it poop, #2, or a bowel movement, when you notice your toddler has stopped passing them it is a problem!

Constipation isn’t just about the frequency of your child’s bowel movements. It’s also about the type of stool passed, and difficulty level of passing the stool. Look for these signs when trying to determine if your toddler suffers from constipation: dry and hard stools, painful bowel movements, less frequent bowel movements than usual, and stools that are difficult to pass.
Read below to learn the reasons for toddler constipation and to find tips for treating a constipated toddler:

Causes Of Constipation In Toddlers:

Toddlers can become constipated for many reasons:

Lack of fiber in their diet

Not drinking enough fluids (like water)

Change in routine (going on vacation, having a new caregiver, etc)

Child ignoring the urge to go (Very common with toddlers who won’t poop on the potty, but can happen with other potty training toddlers too, or children who simply don’t want to stop playing to go, etc)

A medical condition (check with your child’s pediatrician if his/her constipation continues or becomes worse).

Tips For Helping Relieve Constipation In Toddlers:

  • Increase your toddler’s fluid intake, especially of water. Offer water with meals and snacks, at trips to the park, in sippy cups during a car ride, even extra sips after brushing teeth!
  • Offer high fiber snacks. Don’t give refined crackers or sugary fruit snacks during snack time! Instead offer chopped bits of fresh fruit or veggies, bite-sized bits of dried fruit, and whole grain versions of breads and crackers.
  • Make sure every meal counts. Offer cereals with fiber or fruit with breakfast, and remember  fruits and/or veggies with lunch and dinner. The more the better!
  • Offer juices and fruits containing sorbitol. Sorbitol is a natural fruit sugar that has been shown to have constipation-relieving effects. Juices with a fair amount of sorbitol include prune juice, apple juice, and pear juice. Fruits with sorbitol include apples, pears, peaches, and prunes.
  • Speak positively of going poop: Toddlers sometimes think of pooping as a bad thing. Don’t let this misconception keep your toddler holding in his/her stool. Talk about how important it is to have bowel movements, and discuss how everyone needs to poop.
  • Encourage your toddler when s/he shows signs of needing to go #2: For toddlers who continue to hold in their poop, constipation can become a big problem. If your toddler shows signs of needing to have a bowel movement, encourage him/her to go. You may even want to use a reward.
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