Toddler constipation: Causes, symptoms and treatment

toddler constipation

by Lorna White |

Seeing your little one in any sort of discomfort can be really distressing for the both of you. If toddler constipation is causing your child to feel poorly, you'll want to know how to relieve this uncomfortable feeling as soon as possible.

Firstly, the good news is that toddler constipation is fairly common, especially during the potty training phase.

What are the symptoms?

• The main sign is if they haven't done a poo at least three times in the last week

• Their poo might resemble rabbit droppings and look like small pellets

• Their poo is large and hard

• They appear to strain when doing a poo or cry

• You may see a little bleeding after they've done a poo

• Loss of appetite

• Bloating

• Stomach ache and nausea

What causes toddler constipation?

Diet - The most common culprit when it comes to constipation is often diet. If your little one is not getting enough fibre in their diet, such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, it may make their stools harder.

Holding it in - Another very common cause is ignoring the urge to poop. We know toddlers are definitely more interested in playing than going to the loo, so they might hold their poo in for much longer than they should. They may also refuse to poo in a public loo too due to embarrassment.

Fluids - Make sure your child is drinking enough fluids as this can cause constipation.

Fear of pain - We know that sometimes, bowel movements can feel a little uncomfortable, so it's no surprise that after experiencing a painful poop, your child might be scared to do it again due to the fear of pain. Just make sure they know that the longer they leave it, the more it's going to hurt.

Change in routine - A change in environment and routine can also cause constipation, especially when it comes to things like going on holiday and being away from their own toilet.

Exercise - We're sure your toddler will be getting plenty of exercise running you off your feet, but not enough physical activity can result in constipation

Medication - If your child ever needs to take any medication, always read the leaflet and ask your GP about the side effects as some may cause constipation.

Treatment for constipation

If you've tried changing their diet and encouraging them to try if you suspect they might need to go yet they're still struggling with constipation then you should speak to a GP.

Depending on your child's age and how long they've been struggling with constipation, they may prescribe some laxatives to help soften the stools.

In the long-term, make sure your child drinks plenty, eats plenty of fruit and vegetables, remains active and has a regular routine of sitting on the potty to try at regular intervals during the day.

To ease any anxiety around going to the toilet, make sure you stay calm and reassuring so they know that having a poo isn't something to be embarrassed about to help ease those fears.

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