Constipation in toddlers? Heartbreaking for me actually: I hate it when a tiny tot suffers in any way…
Constipation in toddlers (children between ages 1 and 3) is something I had to deal with myself. How do you know your toddler is constipated? The signs usually are small, hard and dry pellets, difficulty in the passing stool (accompanied by pain) and infrequency in bowel movements (more than 2 days between stools). Other symptoms that may present themselves along with the above signs include nausea, crankiness, bloating, stomach ache, soiled diaper or underwear, loss of appetite, etc. Read more on constipation in adults here
Just a little fun video…
Toddler constipation is generally caused by the following:
1) A diet that includes too much constipating foods like bananas, cooked carrots or squash, dairy products like cheese, yogurt, ice cream and milk (should be limited to 2-3 six-ounce cups a day). For natural constipation relief, you can boil 2-3 tablespoons of flax seeds in 2 cups (500 ml) of water for about 10 minutes. Water down the mixture if it becomes too thick and mix with your child’s milk for a natural stool softener.
2) Taking in too little fluids can cause hard stool. If your child’s urine is not a pale clear yellow, start giving him/her more liquids. I used to dilute fruit juice with water; plain water is much better though as fruit juice can spoil their appetite and also cause tooth decay (limit juice intake to 4 ounces daily). It teaches the child to drink water from a young age which is crucial to a healthy lifestyle.
3) Children, as is the case with adults, need exercise to move food through the digestive tract. Encourage exercise by walking, running or playing with your child.
4) Stool holding: “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. 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:” Source: http://www.patient.co.uk/health/constipation-in-children. Reasons for holding stool may include a change in routine (on vacation and away from the normal toilet), busy playing, scared of public facilities, etc.
How do we get rid of constipation in toddlers?
Foods to relieve constipation in your toddler are those high in fiber and include fruits (prunes, apples, grapes, pears) and veggies (peas, green beans, and broccoli). Wholegrain bread, crackers and cereal, lots of fluids and adequate exercise are all-natural cures for constipation in toddlers. Start a routine of potty time. For 5-10 minutes after each meal sits your child down on the potty and make yourself comfortable with him/her by either chatting or reading a book to your child. This should create a calm atmosphere where your child can relax and let nature take its course. Do not force your child to stay on the potty if he/she does not want to; the child may start to think of the toilet as punishment.
When should you seek medical advice?
“Some guidelines of when to head straight to your health care provider include:
1½ to 2 weeks have passed, and none of the simple fixes listed above is working
Your child has gone three days or more without having a stool.
Your child is experiencing ongoing, unrelenting abdominal or rectal pain.
Your child passes blood in the stool.
Your child is occasionally leaking stool.
Your child is vomiting or has diarrhea.
Your child develops a fever.”
Medication that can help soften the stool may be suggested. I myself have used a glycerin suppository for constipation on occasion (it stimulates the rectum; assisting in passing stool) for my child; other over-the-counter medications include a lubricant such as mineral oil for constipation or laxatives for constipation if your child suffers from acute constipation.
Have you any experience with constipation in toddlers you want to tell us about?