Authored by Nickie Fleming in Child and Teen Health
Published on 03-24-2009
Parents of toddlers often panic when something is out of the ordinary with their child – especially when they check with relatives or neighbors and these have never heard of the problem described.
One of these worries is constipation, which occurs when the little one is having difficulty in passing stools. You can see that he or she is straining when pooping, because the stools are perhaps hard, dry or pebble-like. A toddler suffering from constipation may go days without bowl movement and become nervous with the discomfort. This can become a vicious circle: the baby experiences difficulty in passing stools because it may hurt, and thus they’ll try to hold them back, which makes the stools even harder and even more painful to pass along.
About half of all toddlers will suffer constipation at one time or other. Tell-tale signs for the parents can be a shifting in food choices, or complaints about the stomach, and the above mentioned straining while passing stools.
Luckily, there are things parents can do!
- In first instance, they should give their toddler more high fiber foods like fruits, vegetables and breakfast bars that are rich in fiber and cereals. Also peanut butter, pureed pear, prunes and apples are good to give.
- Avoid eating too much rice and bananas. These tend to cause constipation for some babies (we all know that eating bananas and rice stops diarrhea).
- Avoid eating too much block cheese. This food is hard to process and is known to cause constipation.
- You can add a teaspoon of flax oil to your child’s cereals, once a day.
- Next to that, you should make sure that your child takes in enough fluids. Let them have an extra glass of water or fruit juice in the morning and afternoon. Just be careful with the milk. Although drinking milk is extremely healthy, it is better to cut down on it while trying to restore bowl movement.
- Another good thing (mainly for prevention) is to introduce a fixed time for potty-use, about five to ten minutes after their meals.
- Also increase the exercise and movement of your child. A toddler who gets about a lot, will more likely suffer less problems with constipation than one who sits in a chair all day.
- Sometimes it can help to try a glycerin suppository.
Please avoid giving your child over-the-counter laxatives! Laxatives are never very good, and especially not for young children. Always consult your pediatrician before giving your child any medicine for constipation.
Also go and see the doctor if the constipation – which is not a major problem in itself and doesn’t need concern – goes along with stomach distention, signs of bleeding or extreme pain when passing stools.
A stomach extension (like your child is sticking his stomach out) can be a sign of a serious condition.
Bleeding or pain when passing stools can be a sign of internal tearing or injuries.
Extended periods between bowl movements can also point to something serious.