Welcome back to Best Case Parenting. Today we are looking at the problem of toddlers that are not pooping. It can be a real worry, especially for new parents or those that haven’t faced this problem before. After reading this simple article, we hope you will feel more confident about helping your toddler poop.
Toddlers are a delicate bunch by nature. Their bodies are constantly growing, and along with this can come complications to their poop schedule. While some poop twice a day, other toddlers may go for an longer time between bowel movements. It’s normal for a baby to go for several days without bowel movements.
Naturally, the longer the gaps between pooping, the more anxious parents tend to get, especially if you are new to parenting. This might not necessarily be a sign of anything too serious. Your child may be in a little distress and need of your help. This condition can be brought about by dieting, or maybe your child might be ignoring the urge to go to the bathroom.
A toddler should have bowel movements at least once a day. A child is said to have bowel problems if he or she does not poop at least three times a week and if his or her stool is dry, hard, and difficult to excrete. This problem may be accompanied by bloating, stomachache, loss of appetite, and general crankiness. The child might also show serious discomfort or even pain during bowel movements, or you might even find smears of stool on the underwear or diaper.
Below are some causes of this problem, and the measures that you can put in place to counter your child’s bowel movement problem.
Root Causes of Poop problems 🙂
The main culprit to pooping problems is often associated with diet. Many foods that toddlers are in love with have some binding effects that can cause distress when passing stools.
Processed foods such as dairy, cheese, ice-cream, (even some yogurts) are some of the key foods to watch out for. Along with other low fiber foods such as processed grains, white pasta and white bread.
Try to keep your child on a stable diet as much as possible, and keep an eye out if there are substantial changes to their diet, noting if it has an adverse effect on their ability to poop. Every child is different, so taking a mental note of dietary changes will help immensely.
Lack of exercise
Your toddler should be encouraged to be active for a good amount of time each day. This can be done in a fun way, such as dancing and playing in the park! This exercise will really help your child’s bowel movements be more regular.
Holding it in!
Most toddlers, especially those around the age of two, prefer playing with toys than pooping. It is quite common for a child that is heavily engaged in a fun activity, to put off their toileting needs. It may be up to the adult to encourage toileting and even take your child to the bathroom if they haven’t requested for a while.
Some children may develop a fear or dislike of the toilet. This is often because toileting can be a personal thing, something they don’t want shared with other people. This can mostly occur with new environments such as a new school or other activities outside the home.
A haphazard and ever changing routine will not help your child with their pooping. For example, you may notice a delay in your child’s bowel movements when you go on holiday. This is a prime example of how a routine change can effect this!
Holding it in because of pain
If a child feels pain when passing stool, he or she is likely to hold the next one in. This pain can be as a result of some anal soreness or diaper rash.it can also be caused by an anal strep infection. Holding in stool can cause a lot of complications to a young child, since this changes their pooping cycle completely. The stool piles up in the lower section of the bowel, making it even more painful and hard to pass. This is a cycle you want your child to avoid whenever possible.
Some supplements and medication can make it hard for toddlers to pass stool. Some types of pain relievers and iron supplements can contribute to constipation in toddlers.
There are some physical conditions that can effect your toddlers ability to poop. This could be anything from an allergic reaction to cow’s milk to problems with your child’s digestive system. These conditions are often relatively minor in nature, but make sure to monitor your child closely for any warning signs.
Low fluid intake
Toddlers who take less or no water at all in a day are likely to have dry stools which are often hard to pass out.
Lack of appetite due to stomach pains or other illnesses can affect your child’s stool passing patterns immensely. If your child takes less food, then he or she is likely to visit the washrooms less often.
How can I help my toddler poop? What’s the solution?
Improve bowel habits
Parents should always encourage their toddlers to regularly use the bathroom, especially after meals. The adults in your household can also model this behavior, showing your child when and how they should be using the bathroom.
In addition, don’t make your child feel under pressure at this time. Allow your toddler to sit for a decent amount of time when they need to poop. Make the environment comfortable and fun for them too. Buying special toilet seats or stools to stand on that include your child’s favorite cartoon character, for example, will help greatly.
It’s also essential to reward your toddler from time to time after a successful toileting experience, maybe with a sticker or even some exciting story to make it a positive experience for all involved!
Stick to a good routine.
Try to keep a regular routine with your child, that includes pooping. This will help pooping become a routine and normal part of their day.
Often go for foods that make your toddlers stool easy to pass. Foods that have high fiber content such as apples and pears, as well as fruit juices that are rich in sorbitol, should be incorporated into your toddler’s diet. Other ideal fruits include mangoes, prunes, and berries with seeds. Vegetables, wholegrain bread, beans, and cereals should also come in handy in your child’s diet. Fatty foods and milk should be lessened or even excluded (depending on how serious your child’s pooping problem is), as they contribute immensely to constipation.
Keep your toddler hydrated
Did you know that up to 60% of the human body is made up of water. A child’s brain (and other important organs) require water to keep them operating normally. Water is important for any child, but especially for those experiencing pooping problems! The more you hydrate your toddler, the better the functioning of the organs, including the bowels and the intestines.
So find fun ways to get your child to drink more water. You could buy them a special water cup they like, or turn it into a game. See who can drink as much water as Daddy (of course, just pretending! Not actually drinking as much water as an adult :)).
Let your child take a break!
If your toddler, for whatever reason, is struggling to use the bathroom. Let them have a break and go back to using diapers for a while. Try not to make them feel under pressure or bad about the whole experience. Encourage them that toileting is a normal part of everyday life, and that normally it doesn’t hurt or cause distress.
Always ensure that your child goes out to play for at least an hour a day. This improves digestion aiding into pooping with ease. As stated above, you can also encourage your child to do active activities such as dancing.
Use stool softeners
If your toddler is more than a year old and has some problems when passing stool and dietary changes have not helped at all, then you could incorporate stool softeners. Just be aware that these should be a short term solution, not something your child has to rely on for extended periods of time.
You don’t need a prescription to buy stool softeners, but it might be a good idea to consult a doctor first as a precautionary measure. Colace is a good example of a gentle stool softener that you can use with toddlers, and it is widely available on Amazon. Just be sure to check the instructions of whatever stool softener you choose to use, and make sure you stay well within the recommended doses.
Colace comes in a tablet form, but you can also find stool softeners in a liquid form such as Pedia-lax below. Just click the image if you want to take a look at this more over on Amazon itself.
Ease it out manually
Being a parent is not all sunshine and rainbows! There are times like these when you need to take one for the team!
Sometimes your toddler may be willing to pass the poop, but it’s just too painful to pass. When this happens, try using some petroleum jelly. Petroleum jelly will reduce the pain since it lubricates the sensitive skin making it much more relaxed and comfortable to pass stool. When the painful sensation vanishes, your child should be more at ease and not clenching the sphincter muscles, making the whole process much better.
Warm water may help in relaxing the anus and making stool passage even easier. You can have your child sit in a warm bath for some time or also place a small wet cotton ball on the toddler’s anus. This will enable the anus to relax and pass poop more easily.
There are several ways to massage your toddler’s stomach to relieve bowel movement problems. You can use your fingers to make circular clockwise movements on your child’s belly, walk your fingers all around the naval in a clockwise direction or even pushing (gently) your child’s feet and knees towards their stomach. You can also use your finger to stroke your toddler’s rib cage to his or her belly button. This will go a long way in keeping your baby’s bowel movement rates and patterns in check.
Clearly, it is hard to explain this well in text form. The Youtube channel Biophila has an excellent video demonstrating some of these massage techniques. A quick watch of this should give you a much clearer idea of how to do these types of massages!
Read books about toileting
As stated above, some children can be unsure about using public toilets, and may hold their toileting needs until they get home. This is not good for a child’s pooping schedule. You can help ease this fear by reading story books about toileting and using toilets outside of the home. This will be a fun and indirect way to help your child understand how this works.
I particularly love the book below titled “Everyone poops”, click the image to view it over on Amazon.
Consult a doctor
If you have tried the ideas from this article, and haven’t seen any improvement, it is important you take your child to see a doctor. Or if you don’t feel confident attempting any of our recommendations, it’s better to get backed up by a professional than attempt something you are nervous about!
What’s your take?
These are our essential tips and recommendations for parents of toddlers that are struggling to poop. It is essential that throughout this whole process you remain calm, especially around your child. If you are anxious, your child will be able to pick up on this. Also, you don’t won’t them to feel in any way under pressure about this problem, or that they are a part of it!
We would to hear from you if you have your own tips or experiences with a young child that has trouble pooping. We want sharing to be a major part of this parenting community 🙂