Toddler Constipation | Emma's Diary India

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Toddler constipation


How to cope with toddler constipation

It is common for parents to become concerned about their children’s bowel action, but knowing what your child’s normal toileting pattern is will help if a problem arises.

If your child’s bowel habits change and they ‘poo’ less often than normal or have difficulty or pain when trying to go to the toilet, then they may be constipated.

If you have these concerns you should seek advice from your doctor.

How will I know if my child is constipated?

Here is a checklist to help you identify whether constipation is the problem; does your child have:

  • Difficulty or straining when passing stools
  • Pain when passing stools
  • Passing stools less often than usual
  • Hard stools, which are either very large or very small and pellet-like
  • Soiling with diarrhoea or mucus (caused by a large stool becoming stuck and soft stools leaking around it).

Are there any other symptoms?

Constipation can cause more general symptoms such as:

  • Tummy ache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Feeling sick
  • Unsettled
  • Child seems ‘off colour’
  • Irritability

What are the causes?

There are several things that can cause constipation. The most common of these are:

  • Not eating enough fibre
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Drinking too much milk
  • Worry or anxiety
  • Fear of using the potty
  • Stool holding

How can it be treated?

It’s important to treat any signs of constipation early. Once it has become painful for your child to pass stools, he may not try to pass them, which in turn will cause further constipation and more pain.

If he becomes very constipated he may lose the sensation of wanting to open his bowels altogether. If constipation is a problem, it may need to be treated with medication.

Your doctor will be able to advise you about the most appropriate treatment.

How can constipation be prevented?

  • Diet: Giving your child foods that are high in fibre such as fruit, vegetables, healthy cereals, wholemeal chapattis and wholemeal bread will help to make his bowel movements easier. However, it’s important not to overload your child with high-fibre foods as too much fibre may give him diarrhoea.
  • Fluids: It’s important to drink plenty of liquid to keep the poo moist and easier to pass. Offer water when your child seems thirsty and at meal times. Fizzy and sugary drinks should be avoided as not only are they unhealthy, but they also fill your child up so that he is then less likely to eat proper meals.
  • Exercise: Being active will help to ease constipation and will help to overcome any feelings of sluggishness or lack of energy.
  • Address emotional issues: Look for things that could be causing your child anxiety or worry – perhaps he’s just started nursery, or you’ve moved home – and try to reassure him. If you suspect that anxiety about using the potty could be a cause you may need to reconsider whether he is ready for potty training.

Useful tips

  • Introduce a regular toilet time each day when your child can use the toilet without being rushed.
  • Praise your child when he does a ‘poo’, but don’t scold him if he has an accident.
  • Try to remain matter of fact about toilet issues – if you become stressed your child will pick up on this and it will make the situation even more difficult.
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