One thing parenting books don’t mention is how much a parent will think, talk and laugh about poop when children come on the scene. Once a parent thinks they’ve made it through the colorful newborn poop stage and the copious amounts of diaper changing over the years (yes, that’s plural with an “s”) per child, they’ll begin the difficult period of potty training. But bathroom troubles don’t end there. At the end of the day, toddler-aged potty troubles can be even more challenging.
The next thing a parent knows, they find themself Googling “10 Ways to Help Constipated Toddlers”. Between leaving the comfort of diapers by diving straight into the unfamiliarity of underwear, and the newfound freedom that this age brings, toddlers have their own “down there” issues.
At some point, Junior is going to get backed up and mom and dad will want to get things moving again as soon as possible. To make it easy, we’ve put together the best 10 ways to help constipated toddlers.
1. Water, water, and more water
Everyone needs water. Among keeping a person’s skin clear, helping deliver oxygen to your body, and lubricating joints, (and many other reasons), water also helps flush body waste out of the body. Constipation is related to dehydration in the colon, so first thing’s first – drink water. It’s the #1 way of the 10 ways to help constipated toddlers.
One way to make sure a toddler is getting enough water throughout the day is by giving them access to a waterbottle. Some kids won’t ask for something that isn’t there, so make it easily available to them. Purchasing a cute waterbottle like this one is another way to get a little one to drink plenty of liquids on the go.
READ MORE: Tricks to Keep Your Kids Hydrated
2. Fruit juices with diuretic effect (prune, mango, pear)
Some children just don’t like the taste of water. But staying hydrated is super important, especially when constipated. If a parent is having a hard time getting their child to drink water, giving them a fruit juice like prune, mango, or pear juice, or mixing it with water, is another way to get the child to get more liquids. Certain juices like prune contain sorbitol that helps make stool’s easier to pass. For moderate constipation, even just a half to a full cup of juice, once a day, may be enough to keep things moving.
3. Increase fiber intake with fruits, vegetables, and high-fiber foods
In addition to getting enough liquids, warding off constipation can be done by increasing fiber intake. High fiber foods like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables are important for anyone’s digestive health, and also for bathroom bliss. So load up on the next grocery shopping trip!
Some kid-friendly high-fiber foods are:
- Fruits like apples and pears WITH the peels left on and berries with seeds
- Vegetables like broccoli and peas
- High-fiber cereal like raisin bran flakes
- All types of beans
- Whole grain breads
READ MORE: Effective Foods for Relieving Constipation
4. Remove dairy and constipation inducing foods
Just as much as eating certain foods can help, removing certain foods is one of the 10 ways to help constipated toddlers. Dairy foods like cheese and milk are culprits, as are highly processed foods and sweets. So to help a little one get back on track, start treating these foods as treats (yes, even the cheese!) and only feed occasionally once things start moving. Processed foods and sweets should always only be eaten occasionally, so now’s a better time than ever to start leaving those out of the regular meal plan.
5. Exercise and movement
Body movement = bowel movement. Exercise and actively moving, whether it’s sports, dancing, or running around the playground, help food through the digestive process. Sitting and watching the tv? Not so much. Try going for a walk as a family every day, or trying yoga inside. It’s good for the entire family.
6. Encourage regular bathroom use
Some children are just more interested in playing with toys or friends than going to the bathroom. Holding bowel movements in hinders regular movement and can cause constipation. Encouragement to use the bathroom regularly may be all that’s needed to keep things in motion. One of the best times is right after meals. Have the child sit for at least 10 minutes. And if needed, read books or let the child use their digital device to help relax while waiting. Keep a stool under their feet for better pooping posture, and reward them with stickers to keep up the motivation.
7. Ease up on toilet training and stress.
A lot of the time, toddler constipation happens during potty training. New changes in undergarments and a new process of using the bathroom can lead to stress for the child, and the parent searching the web for 10 Ways to Help Constipated Toddlers. Take a step back and ease up on toilet training. Break out the diapers again, and let the child get comfortable getting things moving on their own. Try again in a few weeks when bowel movements start to look normal.
READ MORE: Potty Training Product Guide
8. Try petroleum jelly to help lubricate the skin
When a child is constipated, the stool gets backed up and hardens. So when a child tries to have a bowel movement it can be uncomfortable and even hurt. Then, due to the pain, the child doesn’t want to go anymore and gets backed up even more. It’s a snowball effect. Applying petroleum jelly can help lubricate the skin to make the “time to go” that much more comfortable.
9. Over-the-counter fiber supplements and stool softeners
Sometimes for moderate to extreme constipation, a child may need fiber supplements and/or stool softeners to get things started back on the right track. Talk to a child’s doctor if other mild treatments have been tried to no avail. Their doctor may recommend an over the counter remedy for short term use.
10. Laxative or enema
When a child’s constipation is severe, and nothing is moving, a laxative or enema may need to be used to clean out the blockage to allow for regular bathroom use. Even though these too are usually purchased over the counter, like with fiber supplements and stool softeners, talk to a doctor first before performing any procedures. Homemade enema solutions are also an option, but be sure to do plenty of consulting and research before taking action.
Toddler constipation is one of those topics no one wants to talk about, but almost every parent deals with it at some point. The best way to deal with it is to prevent it in the first place. With plenty of water, fiber foods, and minimal processed foods and treats, children shouldn’t have any problem going to the bathroom. But if they do, trying all of these 10 ways to help constipated toddlers should get you back on the right track.
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