Constipation in Toddlers When to Worry and How To Help

Image of sad blonde boy

Toddlers can be really tricky and whimsical because their little bodies and brains are still learning. Plus, their moods can change in the blink of an eye, which can make some everyday routines, like going to the bathroom, really tricky. Some kids go to the bathroom like clockwork every day, but for some, this can be tough and they can go through days without any bowel movement.

Even though you have spent hours on potty training, seeing an empty toilet day after day might put you in the panic mode. But, there is no need to worry, because constipation with toddlers is a common thing and it isn’t a sign of some disease. However, to make things better for yourself and your little one, here are some things about toddler constipation, when to worry and some relievers.

Toddler Constipation Symptoms

On average, a toddler goes to the bathroom once a day. However, if a child has fewer bowel movements than 3 times a week (or even less), and if their stool is hard and difficult to pass, it means they are constipated. Another sign that your toddler is constipated is large, hard and dry stool, accompanied by painful BM, soiling in between them or if there is blood on the outside of the stool. Even though this might sound alarming, there is no need to worry because it’s perfectly normal for them to be constipated once in a while.

If you do decide to visit your pediatrician, they may ask you to keep track of your little one’s BM. Also, there are some other symptoms that can help you determine if it’s about toddler constipation. These include:

  • Stomachache
  • Bloating
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • General crankiness
  • Crying or screaming during the potty time
  • Avoiding going to the bathroom
  • Smears or bits of liquid stool in their underwear or diapers (soiling)

Toddler Constipation Causes

There are numerous things that can cause constipation in toddlers. From diet to some medications they are talking, you cannot really know for sure. However, if you keep track of their routines, diet, and activities you might figure out what is causing it. Here are a few of the most common causes of constipation.

Diet

Diet is probably the main cause of toddler constipation. They might be eating some foods that are hard to process, dairy products, sweets, or they lack fiber, such as whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. Additionally, if they are not drinking enough water, it can also lead to constipating. Lastly, some major food transitions can affect the stool of your toddler, such as switching from formula or breast milk to cow’s milk or introduction of new foods.

Holding it in

Your toddler is probably far more interested in playing with a new toy than going to the bathroom when they feel the need. Some children might even be embarrassed or afraid to go to the bathroom, especially in public places. Not to mention that the fear of discomfort they might have felt once that makes them hold it in for a longer period of time.

Changed routines

If you went somewhere on your vacation or you’ve been away from home for some time, your toddler might feel discomfort and avoid going to the bathroom. But this is natural because you have probably experienced the same thing.

Lack of physical activity

Exercising can greatly encourage the movement of food through the bowels, so if your toddler is lacking physical activity, try and change that.

Illness

Being sick affects everyone’s appetite, so if your little one has been sick, it’s natural that they don’t want to eat. As a result, they might be constipated for a few days.

Medication

Many medications and supplements can lead to constipation in toddlers. This is due to high doses of iron in some supplements or narcotic pain medications.

What to Do for Toddler Constipation?

If you are worried and wonder what to do for toddler constipation, there are a few things you can do and improve their BM in the long run.

Firstly, you should consider physical activity. If your little one is still too young, you can make sure to go out every day to the local playground and let them run around and play in order to move a bit more. The same thing can be done in your backyard or inside your house, just make sure they get to move a little. But, if they are old enough for some training, you can enroll them in swimming lessons or any other lighter sport and let them relieve the energy and their bowel movement will significantly improve.

Secondly, you will have to work together on improving their bathroom habits. The best thing to do this is to encourage your kid to go to the bathroom at the same time every day and to teach them to be regular. This is especially important after meals and whenever they have the need to go potty. As soon as you or they decide that it’s time to go to the bathroom, let them sit there at least 10 minutes at a time. Also, put a small stool under their feet because the leverage will help them push. In the end, make sure to reward your toddler for using the toilet, especially if they were successful, and you will create a positive experience.

Lastly, you can try with medication. Go to your pediatrician and they will recommend the best medication for this problem, but this can basically be your last option. This is because there are some other ways to relieve your child.

Toddler Constipation Instant Relief

If you are really alarmed by your toddler’s constipation, you should know what remedies to use for toddler constipation and instant relief. Besides the diet, there are a few simple tricks you should learn.

First one includes giving them a gentle massage of their tummy. There are a few steps you can take to make this whole experience more relaxing for both of you. Start with a nice warm bath in order to relax your toddler and prepare them for the massage. Then, place your child in the bed on their back and make sure it’s not too cold in the room. Take some hypo-allergenic oil and rub it in your hands and start massaging your toddler’s tummy. Make sure to do this gently and in a clockwise direction, but don’t apply too much pressure, so you wouldn’t hurt your little one. Additionally, you can do some exercises with them, the so-called “bicycle legs” and gently push the kid’s legs towards their chest. This will probably get their stomach moving which will result in instant relief.

However, if this doesn’t work, you can always turn to some instant relief remedies. Go to the pharmacy and get the over-the-counter glycerin suppositories. Follow the instructions on the package and you can even consult with your pediatrician, but toddlers over the age of two can use these.

Image of vegetables

Food for Constipated Toddlers

Even though there are several tricks to get your toddler to go to the bathroom, you should know that working on your diet is the best option. Luckily, there are a few foods and veggies that can provide instant relief for your little one, and that diet rich in fibers and fluids will make them regular.

There are two fruits that will certainly provide instant relief for your little one. These include prunes and pears. Prunes work like magic both on constipated toddlers and adults. If they are too young to eat them normally, you can soak a few of them and mash them into a juice. Another way to eat them is by chopping them and adding them into oatmeal. When it comes to pears, they are considered to be a natural laxative, and they can do wonders for your toddler’s tummy. They can eat them whole, with the skin, or you can mash them up into a a juice.

Other foods that will help your toddler improve their bowel movement include an array of foods and veggies:

  • Mango
  • Broccoli
  • Peas
  • Beans
  • Whole-grain bread
  • Cereals

Make sure that their diet is rich in fiber and cut it back on dairy products. Also, make sure they are not eating any processed foods and that they drink plenty of homemade juices and water.

Toddler Constipation When to Call Doctor

Even though there are instant reliefs and long-term solutions for improving the BM, there are times when you might get a little too worried and when you should call your doctor. If your child is constipated for a few days, there is nothing to worry about. However, if they haven’t gone to the bathroom in over two weeks, then you should definitely call your pediatrician. Also, if the constipation is accompanied by one or more of the following symptoms, you should also visit your doctor:

  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Swollen abdomen
  • Blood in the stool
  • Weight loss
  • Anal fissures (painful cracks in the skin around the anus)

Pooping is important for everyone. Yes, we all do feel a bit constipated from time to time, so it’s perfectly normal for your toddler to experience it as well. However, if it goes on for too long, reach out to your doctor. Otherwise, you can easily get them to the bathroom with some of these tips.

Author: Mary Lynn Holden
Author: Mary Lynn Holden

Proud mom and stepmom to an adorable bunch of kids aged 7 and up. Deeply appreciates three things in life: the help of older siblings in the house, texts on parenting, and strong coffee. Shares her stories and experiences in order to help others navigate the unpredictable waters of parenting.

Find Out More

Leave a Comment

error: Alert: Content is protected !!