How to Prevent and Treat Toddler Constipation

Toddler constipation is a common problem for little people just getting used to using the toilet. It can make your potty-training adventure into a nightmare for your little one, so it’s important you know what to do when the problem strikes.

Causes of Toddler Constipation

There’s no one cause for constipation on tots; the problem can be triggered by a number of things. These include some dietary issues:

• Too much processed food 

• Inadequate fiber 

• Not enough liquid

• Too much milk, and not enough solid food

And some that have to do with behavior

• “Keeping it in”, or avoiding having a bowel movement because of fear

• Not enough exercise

If your toddler has constipation issues it’s important you evaluate him in each of these areas. Consider how much roughage he has in his diet, how much liquid he is getting, and whether he is eating a reasonable amount of solid food (vs. milk). Think about how much exercise he’s getting, and look back over your potty training history. Is your child comfortable going poo in the potty, or is that still an unsafe zone for him? Is he worried about having an accident in his pants? The longer it stays inside him, the harder your toddler’s poo will get, so it’s very important he feels comfortable using the potty as soon as he feels the slightest urge.

Constipation and Your Toddler’s Diet

One of the easiest ‘home remedies’ for constipation is to change your toddler’s diet. Give him lots of water throughout the day, and make sure he has plenty of roughage: whole wheat bread, fruit, and vegetables. Cut down on white bread, white rice, and pasta, and avoid giving banana or applesauce till your toddler’s poo is back to normal. Prunes or prune juice acts as a magic cure for constipation, and if your child doesn’t like eating prunes straight you can always put them in her cookies. If you’re doing prune juice, just one ounce is enough to start with.

Milk is good for your toddler, but at this point it probably shouldn’t be her primary source of nutrition. If your toddler is drinking more than twenty ounces of milk a day, she is probably drinking too much milk.

Constipation and Potty Training

Some children just don’t feel comfortable having a bowel movement if they are not wearing a diaper, and if that’s the case with your toddler, it’s important you stay gentle and understanding. Give him a little ‘diaper time’ every day so he doesn’t hold his bowel movement in and become overly constipated, but also work on helping him become comfortable with the potty. 

Establish a routine where your toddler sits on the potty for ten minutes a day, the same time every day. Half an hour after breakfast is a good time for this. Make sure he has plenty to do on the potty, so it isn’t a time-out or punishment time; maybe even buy some special ‘potty books’ or seat-toys that are only taken out for potty time. 

Constipation and Laxatives

It’s best to treat constipation by working on your toddler’s diet, playing active games with him and encouraging him to exercise, and dealing with his fear of the potty. Never give a toddler a laxative meant for adults or older children unless you have special direction from your doctor. If all your attempts at home remedies have failed, you will want to talk with your child’s doctor about your child’s circumstances and the best way to treat his toddler constipation. 

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