Toddlers might sometimes have stomach cramps and might not go to the bathroom for a few days. Take a look at the causes of constipation and some of the remedies you could try to relieve it.
Toddler constipation is common, especially around potty training age, which is usually when your toddler is two or three years old. While it’s not normally anything to worry about, it can be very uncomfortable and upsetting for the child, and could possibly lead to further issues with toilet training. Don’t delay in seeking advice from your doctor if you have any health concerns over your toddler.
Let’s look at the symptoms and causes of constipation, as well as some toddler constipation remedies that you could try.
Constipation in toddlers
The symptoms of constipation in toddler years can include:
- Pooing less than three times a week.
- Small and hard poos that look like pellets.
- Seeing your toddler straining to poo.
- Diarrhea can also be a sign of constipation as the runny poo can leak out around the hard poo.
Unfortunately, if a constipated toddler is finding it painful to poo, this can discourage them from trying, which can then make the issue even worse.
Causes of constipation in a toddler
There are numerous reasons a toddler might become constipated, these include:
- Not eating enough high fiber foods.
- Not drinking enough water.
- Finding potty training difficult.
- Not getting enough exercise.
- Anxiety around another issue such as starting nursery or a new brother or sister coming along.
Occasionally, constipation can be a symptom of a different medical condition or illness.
Your doctor will be able to help identify the reason behind your toddler’s constipation.
Ways to help a constipated toddler
You should seek the advice of your doctor as soon as possible, as it can get more difficult to treat constipation, the longer it goes on.
Natural ways of treating constipation in toddlers include:
- Offer your child water between his breast milk or formula milk feeds. Fruit juice drinks contain hidden sugars and few nutrients, so aren’t recommended for young children.
- Ensure that they’re eating a variety of fiber-rich healthy foods including vegetables (cooked and raw), fruits (fresh and dried), beans and pulses. As always, keep an eye out for allergic reactions when introducing any new foods.
- If your child is over two, you can start to introduce wholegrains. Wholegrain rice and pasta, and wholemeal bread, are higher in fiber than white. Do discuss this with your doctor first, however, as wholegrain foods are also very filling.
- Encourage your toddler to be physically active. The UK National Health Service recommendation for toddlers who are walking is 180 minutes of activity per day. This can include light activity such as just toddling around, or more energetic games and active play.
- Help your child get into a good ‘pooing position’. If they can’t rest their feet flat on the floor when using the toilet or potty, provide them with a step to get their legs into a bent-knee position, with knees raised above the hips.
- Keep them comfortable and calm. A child toilet seat will make sitting on the toilet more comfortable for your toddler. You could also keep some toys or books by the toilet to encourage your child to sit for longer – ones that you can wipe clean are best!
- Talk to your child about any fears or worries that they have around using the toilet. Offer reassurance and plenty of praise every time they sit on the potty or toilet. Don’t punish your child for any accidents they might have while potty training or afterwards.
If these aren’t successful in getting constipation relief for toddler, your doctor might recommend using laxatives. However, you should never use any stool softener for kids without speaking to your doctor first.
If your toddler is suffering from constipation, it can be an upsetting time for both of you. Remember, though, that constipation isn’t normally anything to worry about. Your doctor should be able to identify the cause of your toddler’s constipation, and suggest the right course of action for relieving it.