Childhood constipation is common, but here's how you can help.
There is nothing worse than seeing your little one in pain, especially when it comes to something like toddler constipation. And although constipation in children is fairly common, that doesn't make their discomfort any easier to bear. While the reasons for constipation vary, when it comes to toddlers, potty training may play a significant role.
Dr. Lyndsey Garbi, Chief Pediatrician at Blueberry Pediatrics in New York City, tells Motherly, "Don't potty train kids before they show signs of readiness, when discussions around pooping are very light and casual." According to the Mayo Clinic, if you begin toilet training too early, "your child may rebel and hold in stool. If toilet training becomes a battle of wills, a voluntary decision to ignore the urge to poop can quickly become an involuntary habit that's tough to change."
There may be other factors at play when it comes to constipation in children, too. If your toddler is constipated, check out these easy steps you can take to ensure the issue doesn't last long. And if the problem doesn't resolve itself within a few days, call your child's healthcare provider. You got this, mama.
When your toddler is having trouble going to the bathroom, here are 5 things you can do to relieve constipation.
Making sure your child is getting enough fluids is very important to aid digestion and encourage healthy bowel movements. Dr. Garbi writes, "I like to reassure toddlers that they are in control of their bodies and have them drink a lot of fluids." This is key when it comes to toddler constipation, but also what KIND of fluid is vitally important. Water is best, and toddlers should drink between two and three eight ounce cups of water per day.
Per the Mayo Clinic, prune juice is a natural laxative, and can be mixed with a little apple juice and water if your child doesn't like the taste (and really, who does?).
Because exercise stimulates digestion and helps prevent constipation, try taking your toddler on a walk around the yard or down the block. Have an impromptu dance party, or try a little stretching and toddler yoga. Regular physical activity can encourage bowel movements.
Eat fiber-rich foods
When it comes to your toddler's diet, Dr. Garbi suggests "increasing foods filled with fiber," like apples and pears, vegetables (especially if they're raw) and whole grains, like oats, millet and barley. Adding more fiber into your child's diet will keep bowels happy as food moves through the digestive track at a steady pace. By contrast, fast food and junk food, which we know isn't healthy in general, slows down digestion.
Routine and reward
Try encouraging your toddler to get into a routine of going to sit on the toilet for at least 10 minutes at the same time every day (usually after a meal). Offer a small non-food reward when your child does go to the bathroom, like stickers or a call to grandparents. By making a successful bathroom visit a big deal, your toddler will want to repeat it again for their reward.
Take a break from potty training
Per Dr. Garbi's notes above, if you feel your toddler isn't ready to potty train, don't push it. "If you suspect that toilet training may be playing a role in your child's constipation, take a break from toilet training for a bit to see if the constipation improves."
If you find that none of these remedies seem to be helping and your toddler has not had any constipation relief, contact your child's healthcare provider for an appointment.
- You Don't Have to Potty Train Your Kids - Motherly ›
- Doctor-approved ways to help ease constipation in children ›