5 Causes of Constipation in Toddlers (and How To Relieve it)

“Have a nice poop!”

For the past few weeks, my husband and I have noticed how miss Aria have been having such a hard time pooping. She always cries and her poop usually comes out hard.

It doesn’t happen every single time but it happens too much that you cannot ignore it. So we’ve tried to look more into it and even brought it up to her pediatrician during her wellness check up. Apparently there are certain food and drinks that causes this, along with a few other reasons. Upon learning about this, we’ve made a lot of changes in her diet and even her activities. And her poop has improved greatly!

So I decided to make a post about this issue since I believe it happens very commonly to a lot of mamas such as myself.

First off, how can you tell if your little one is having constipation?

If your child has less bowel movements than usual or fewer than 3 times a week, it’s possible your toddler has constipation. Another would be if he/she is passing large, hard, dry stools which usually is uncomfortable for them. Even a bit of watery stool or staining on the diaper could also be a sign of constipation.

It’s not too worrisome if it happens once in a while since that’s normal. But if it exceeds more than 2 weeks, it is adviced to get seen by your pediatrician just to check what’s causing it.

What are the causes of constipation?

1. Diet

The main cause usually comes from the food that your toddler eats. Just like in little Aria’s case. She intakes too much cow’s milk along with taking fruits that are known to cause constipation.

Here’s a small list of food/drinks that are culprits.

  • Cow’s milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream
  • Applesauce, banana
  • Carrots, potato
  • White bread, pasta, rice cereal
  • Processsed foods, fries

2. Dehydration

Very minimal intake of fluids can harden your child’s poop which causes difficulty in passing.

3. Lack of Physical Activity

Exercise helps with the blood flow to your child’s digestive tract which will facilitate increase motility. So if your little one is more sedentary then they might have problems with their bowel movements.

4. Toilet Anxiety

Apparently the pressure gets to be too much for them sometimes. Especially when it comes to toilet training. So they sometimes purposefully hold in their stool so they won’t have to go. This causes build up that makes their stool larger and harder to pass.

For some, they start to become fearful of going to the toilet if they have experienced pain or discomfort when pooping before. Which will then go back to them trying to hold their poop in.

5. Change in their Routine

This applies to the times when you go on vacation or even just using public restrooms. It may increase their toilet anxiety.

How can I relieve constipation?

1. Diet

A change in my toddler’s diet has improved her poop so much. Just remove the culprits and add some high-fiber rich food. Also, lessen their milk intake. Apparently 2 cups of dairy per day is already enough. This is still pretty hard for me since she’s still very dependent on her milk when she sleeps.

Anyway, here is another list of food/drinks you should give to prevent or relieve constipation.

  • Plums, apricots, prunes, mango, strawberries, blueberries
  • Peas, beans, broccoli
  • Whole grain bread and cereal, oatmeal
  • Soy products

2. Increase fluid intake

Especially if the cause is dehydration, then you should definitely increase your toddler’s water intake. There are also juices that can help like prune juice. But not too much since it’ll cause cavities. I highly recommend more water than anything else. What they usually suggest is give the same amount in ounces as their weight. For example, Aria weighs 22 lbs. So I should give her 22 ounces or more of water per day.

3. Exercise

This isn’t really that hard for most mamas. I’ve noticed that at this age, our little ones have become so active that you have to beg them to rest. But for those who have more behaved kiddos, then just make sure your toddler gets to play and walk around for at least 30 to 60 minutes per day.

4. Bowel Habits

The rule is to never pressure your child into toilet training. Especially when they are not ready yet. (I’ll also write a blog about this soon.) But yes, forcing your child to potty train makes them fearful or resentful which makes them withhold pooping.

But, if your child is ready, then the best way would be to regulate his/her bowel movements. Encourage them to go at regular times during the day.

“Live. Laugh. Poop.”

So there you go! My personal experience in dealing with a constipated toddler and how we conquered it. And if these methods don’t work for you, then it’s best to see your pediatrician.

Much love,

-Mina đź’•

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