40 answers

2 1/2 Year Old with Severe Constipation

I have a 2 1/2 year old granddaughter who since she was 10 months old has had great difficulty having a bowel movement. She only goes 1 to 2 times per week on a good week! She cries and screams when she goes because it is usually 2.5 to 3.5 inches around, extremely hard and very painful to get out. I am very worried about this. She spends 1 week with her father, my son, and 1 week with her mother as they have been seperated for 2 months and divorcing. When my son has her, within 3 days she will go with great difficulty because my son gives her prune juice and lots of apples and bananas which seem to help, then everyday after that she will go and it is somewhat softer and a little easier for her. When she returns a week later from her mother's home, she is impacted again and unable to go. At times my son has used infant suppositories from the pharmacy because she is unable to go. Any help or suggestions on what we can do is greatly appreciated, this beautiful little girl should not be suffering this way and her mother says that the Dr has told her since she was 1 yr old that its just the way her digestive system is.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you everyone for your great advice, we have gotten the myralax and are trying that, I have taken many excerpts from all of your answers and compiled them and sent them to both Mommy and Daddy to get the point across that they both must work together and be doing the same thing for her in order to correct the problem. That they need to give her water and as much water as she is willing to drink, and work more with her on what she is eating. I never realized that Apples could bind up in a child and she loves apples, eats 1 or 2 a day so I have suggested cutting them out for a week to see what happens. Thank you all again for all your advice it has been so helpful.

Featured Answers

I found Quaker Oatmeal Bars work wonders with my daughter. They have different flavors such as Apples & Cinnamon and Rasberry that work the best for us. They keep her regular as long as she eats them daily. I would find out the type of diet her mother is feeding her? It sounds like that could be part of the problem too.
Good Luck.

My Doctor recommended Miralax. YOu can get it at Costco or the drug store. Just add some to her juice/ milk and she won't even know she's drinking it.

First...NO bananas, milk or cheese as they are all constipating. She needs lots of water, apple or prune juice, raisins, green veggies, the apples are great...apple cider is good for this too, AND don't forget physical activity to keep things moving. She should be going more than 1-2 times a week...oh my, more like at least once a DAY! Poor little thing. Her mom needs to pay more attention to this. If it continues she could be in for some permanant problems. She is lucky to have you looking out for her! I hope this helps.

More Answers

Hi S.. That poor little girl, my heart breaks for her. I went through this with my son too. He will not eat veggies, so I know part of it his diet, but I also feel like some kids are just more suseptable to constipation. What has worked for my son is giving him "Plumsmart" juice every morning with his oatmeal. This juice is good for digestive health (has Fiber too), and it's something both parents can consistently do fairly easily. On top of that I'd maybe even try those digestive health yogurts on the market. And of course you can add Fiber supplements to food as well, you could look into Flaxseed too, any supplement that has a lot of fiber. Also make sure she is getting plenty of water. My son has a cup that I constantly fill up all day long. Unfortuneately, since she has had some painful BM's in the past, she is probably holding it in when she does feel the urge to go. It's a vicious cycle. Oh, by the way, bananas are constipating, I wouldn't give her those. I'd research to see what veggies and fruits are the highest in Fiber and hopefully she likes 1 or 2 of them. I hope some of my suggestions help, I feel for her and you. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

It's not very likely that it's 'just the way she is'. We are made to eliminate waste, not become impacted with it. Unfortunately, many kids diets are full of overprocessed foods and they are so lacking in fresh fruits and veggies that they are not getting the fiber needed to keep things moving. It's obvious that your son is giving her what she needs (except the bananas...they cause constipation so leave those out) and her mother isn't even trying to address the problem. She shouldn't have to suffer so much and in the long run, could suffer permanent damage to her muscles and tissues, eventually even running the risk of losing bowel control from constant stretching to pass large stools.

Two of my kids have this problem, too. After being impacted twice, and despite having tried EVERYTHING to naturally fix the problem, I had to resort to Miralax daily. Now that they have been regular for a while I am able to really push the foods that help and back off the Miralax....it's amazing how much we talk about poop in my house!! LOL Anyway I would recommend buying the Miralax (you can get it over the counter) and sending it with her. Since mom refuses to try to help change her diet, maybe she will at least add this to her drinks. I can't imagine a parent who flat out refuses to help their poor child who is suffering!

I would not hesitate to take her to the doc...every week if necessary and have these episodes documented. It's neglectful to allow your child to suffer when it CAN be fixed!


1 mom found this helpful

I would think to keep up on water water water along with the apple and prune juice .. has he asked the doc about adding extra fiber to her diet such as fibersure or the fiber tabs that you eat. maybe that would help. you can add the fibersure to any drink besides pop or you can add it to food. it sucks to be constipated and i hope things get better. I always thougth that bananas helped firm stools. maybe im wrong. will she eat actual dried prunes maybe as a snack or apples as a snack .. does her mom have her on a good diet.. and having her drink more water.

1 mom found this helpful

It sounds like she is getting two different diets and neither are correcting the problem. This is not about who's feeding her what and who's not, it's about coming together to treat the problem.

In an ideal world, your son would take his daughter to a doctor for a second opinion (or sometimes the same doctor will give different answers to each parent) and let them know his concerns. Then, he would sit down with his wife with the findings and coordinate a dietary plan to combat the problem.

There could be some emotional basis to this as well...divorce is hard on the kids if the parents are back-talking about the other in front of or to the kids. You haven't given information on who is leaving whom, but you are definitely biased against the mother (understandably so - he's your baby!). Give her a chance to cooperate in getting their child out of the vicious and painful cycle. If they can get beyond their own issues, it will be better for the whole family.

My Doctor recommended Miralax. YOu can get it at Costco or the drug store. Just add some to her juice/ milk and she won't even know she's drinking it.

Hi S., I am a pediatric nurse working in a very busy practice. We have about 30-40 patients ages 6 months and up that struggle with constipation on a daily basis. Your son needs to get your granddaughter into her pediatrician. She can have complications from being constipated for so long. Here in our office the children are started on milk of magnesia (MOM) can purchase at any store. Very safe. Depending on the age, they are started on 1-3 teaspoons daily. Adding prune juice and more fruits and vegs will help too. She should have an abdominal xray to make sure there is no impaction. That large of stools causes the rectal vault to stretch and become sluggish. The other problem that can occur is anal fissures, small tears inside the rectum. I would strongly recommend her getting to a doctor soon. Good luck. Your grandbabies are very lucky to have such a caring, loving grandmother. M.

I know how you and your daughter feels. My daughter had the same concern and my ped. advised me to buy myralax and put some in her juice or water in the morning. Do not put it in milk because milk can be binding so it really has no effect. Please ask your pediatrician how much to put in an eight oz. cup of liquid. I was told to use one teaspoon but my daughter may be lighter or heavier than yours. So again ask your pediatrician for the right dose. It does work, but do it in the morning so she has a bowel movement by the early afternoon. I hope this works as well as it worked for my daughter. I think she was on it daily for over a year. So once you start, keep it up. My friends daughter has been on it for years, so it is safe to use daily for an extended amount of time. Good luck!

Apples and bananas bind. Don't use them at all.
Try high fiber cereals and breads, lots of water, veggies and fruit. I mean lots. Limit Cheese too.

I would also talk to her pediatrician to see a specialist.

It is more common than you think. ALthough You know her little mind and body are taking on stress with inconsistant living situations.

Trader Joes has some good high fiber cereals and such.

Hi S.:

Both of my daughters had the same problem. My older daughter had very large bowel movements and she started to "hold it" because it hurt too bad. I ended up taking her a pediatric gastro dr. He gave a prescription for Myralax. Back then, you could only get it with a script - they now sell it over the counter. It is a fine powder and you just put it in their juice, milk, water - it totally disolves and there is no taste. This worked wonders for both of my girls. Once they realize that it won't hurt to go, they stopped holding it and started going on a more regular basis.

Believe me, I know what you are going through. It just breaks your heart to see them in so much pain, but the Myralax really helped get things moving again.

Good luck!

B.R.A.T., Bread Rice Apples Toast, this is for diarrhea, so no apples, apple sause, some juice's, water, grapes, more fruit, yogert cups, mabie have dad buy some snacks for her to take home with her, if this persist's consult a pediatrician about the issue, one of my daughters had this problem, spent weeks in U.O.M.H. left on meds for apnea, as well as many other meds, then under 1yr. now 25yr old, she had a couple of bad yr. as a child with this issue, it can be serious. Mom of 4 daughters, grandma of two boys, one girl, I would have had the grand kids first had I know how much fun they would be. Best of luck, keep watch over her, hopefully diet will be the trick. Congradulations on the beating cancer, your son, and grandkids, oh, and on the 25yr of marriage, what a life, so far. B.

I have always found that constipation is a result from the foods we feed our kids. Your son has the right idea. Prunes, prune juice, fruits and vegetables are sooo important. Also plenty of water. I have five girls and as long as they have plenty of natural fiber in their diets they remain very regular. When increased amounts of junk food and sugar enter their diet then the problems will begin. Good luck! Your little granddaughter shouldn't have to be so uncomfortable.

Hi S.,
It very well may be how her system is...but that doesn't mean that she should be so constipated.

I have to watch my daughter closely. One missed day and we're in for trouble. That how HER system is. However, we make sure she gets the right foods each day to encourage a bowel movement daily. What goes in must come out!

First, I would steer clear of bananas. They do have a binding affect. Apple juice is good. Water is better. Make sure she stays hydrated. The sugar in juices can dehydrate them. Fruits and veggies!! I also give my daughter at least 1 yoghurt daily. Something with a live culture in it. It promotes good digestion. Quite honestly, if my daughter hasn't had her bowel movement for the day, I give her some yogurt and within 30 minutes she has had a bowel movement. But that is just her.

Stay away from a lot of starchy stuff. That binds.

Now, for the mom situation. I'm hoping you have a good relationship with your daughter in law. You really do need to talk with her. Discuss your concerns and what happens when she is at her dad's house. Let her know there IS a difference from when she first arrives to when she leaves.

Changes in bowel movements are a result from changes in diet. Our bodies react to what we eat. So, obviously she isn't getting the same things at moms. I'm not saying mom is bad. Mom may just be uninformed. Maybe she has a pediatrician that doesn't really know the full extent of the problem, or maybe the pediatrician just isn't a good pediatrician! That happens too. But it's hard for parents because we're supposed to trust our doctors and what they say.

So, it really seems like the adults in this little girls life need to get together and determine the best course of action for this child. Otherwise she is going to end up with some real problems. If it is let go, she can develop fissures around her anus, and then she will not want to go because it will hurt so bad. Then she will get impacted. That is not good.

I hope you all can work things out for your granddaughters sake.

Hello S., Your son is doing everything just the way I would have advised. The problem is her diet when she is with her mother. Not enought fiber or liquids. Have your son start documenting the problem with your granddaughters doctor and have a conversation with her mother(write down the time, date, and conversation for court) about her diet. By leaving a paper trail with the doctor, this with allow for proof of who has the childs best health concerns in mind when they go to court. Good luck to all of you.

Give her a glycerine supp. At the same time everyday, set her on the potty and read to her until she goes.........

MILK, "DAIRY", MILK PRODUCTS (cheese, mac & cheese, yogurt, pizza, grilled cheese, ice cream, frozen yogurt etc etc etc) is VERY VERY CONSTIPATING--that would be the FIRST thing I'd remove...you may not need to do anything else.

Hello, I don't want to sound mean or anything. I really don't know the mom's side of this. But from what has been said above it sounds like. This little girl is more relaxed around her dad. Something with her mom upsets her not saying she isn't happy with mom. But something with the transition every week or maybe something the mom says or the way she says or maybe treatment from her is making her nervous. Kids are stressed easily. Adults can be too. I am a mother of 4 kids and I know if I get too stressed I don't go everyday. So for a child divorce is a huge stress along with if the parents aren't getting along well. She may feel uncomfortable with something. I know prune juice, White grape juice are good juice to regulate. Have to make sure shes getting juice from both parents not just one. Juice and alot of water. If the body does not have enough water flowing through it it will stump up too. Apple juice is a number one no it constipates. There is another thing that I think fda just put on shelves its called miralax. You can give her that its tasteless and put in water or juice she will never know and it will help regulate her. If you use metamucel or fiber con. She has to drink lots of water other wise it will work opposite.Also she needs to get alot of fiber foods too. Fiber, and Water are the key. Some kids don't like water I have 2 out of 4 that won't drink water so I make like koolaid and give them half and half or same with juice half water half juice just so the water is taste. I don't care to do it with juice too much because than it takes the vitamins out. Well best of luck and hope I helped. Take care!

My daughter had this problem from 6 weeks to 6 months of age due to using formula. Once she started eating vegetables it disappeared.

We used prune juice daily and it got her to have a bowel movement about every other day. It was very firm though. We switched to pear juice and that helped even more.

Have you tried Miralax? My friend who is in residency to become a Pediatrician says they use it for kids, though I'd check with her DR to get a dose recommendation. It works well and is safer then laxatives. Its a powder that you mix into a drink. It dissolves better in warm drinks, but will also into cold. My sister says its tasteless (she's using it regularly as she's going through chemo treatments and can't eat properly).

I'd suggest getting her to also eat as much fresh fruit and vegetables as you can, the fiber will help.

Most likely asking her mom to do something different in her diet will cause more tension to their strained relationship, even though its for the best. But you might want to mention to her anything you try that works, as a sort of helpful heads up, and maybe she'll implement it. Its a difficult situation to be in, but I hope that you can at least find some stuff that works while she's with her dad!

Best wishes!

You might try a Probiotic (bifidus/acidophilus). You can get it in a powder form (for children 6 months and older) from your local health food store. My daughter has been on it for burning diapers and it has worked wonders for her.

I had the same problems that you are describing above. After how great the priobiotic worked for my daughter, I decided to start myself and my issues are resolved.

Best of luck to you!

I have always been a constipated person until I began taking acidophilus. (It's the good bacteria that is in yogurt but in pill form). You can find this in your local vitamin aisle. But, if you would prefer, just give her activia yogurt. It will help tremendously. Good luck!! :)
Also, don't forget to give her lots of water.

I would encourage your son to take her to the doctor himself. If he doesn't get a satisfactory answer, then he could get a second opinion. I almost wonder if the diet is different at her moms, and if some of that is the cause. She may need a diet high in fiber or fruits like your son is giving her. It doesn't sound right to me though.

hello, my name is K. and i have a 29 month old and she has had problems in the past. i use fiber-sure, it is a flavor free fiber supplement that i mix in all of her drinks. she is now pretty regular, going every day or every other day. from advice from my ped, stop the banana and apple, sometimes they have the opposiet effect. bananas have a lot of potassium which can cause constipation all in itself. i also give her a juice called harvest surprise, orange mango flavor, that contains fiber in it along with prune juice. other than that just make sure she is gettin enough liquid during a 24 hour period. i hope this was helpfut, please let me know how things turn out.



My daughter went throught the same thing when she was little. We used the glycerin suppositories (cut down with a knife) when we knew she needed to go but wouldn't because she was afraid it would hurt. She also took a prescription stool softener called Kystalose that helped alot (it's a powder that you can add to any drink). We also discovered that white grape juice was very constipating to her so we completely cut it out. Popcorn is also a great source of fiber.

I agree with the other mom suggestions. Talk to your daughter-in-law about the situation and how you can work together for the benefit of your granddaughter. It is not normal to cry during a bowel movement. Have your son take her to the doctor for a second opinion.

My daughter took meds until she was 3-4 years old. She's now 7 years old and goes to the bathroom on her own, though I do still fret over her cheese consumption.

Good luck!

my daughter had the exact same problem...
we added about a 1/2 teaspoon of metumical (per the doctor)
to her juice bottles...
simple...easy...and can be done at both places...
don't let her stay on it forever though...(a month tops)
my daughter eventually grew out of it...she's fine now

My 16-month-old daughter has occasional bad constipation too, and I was told no apples or bananas (both are binding - you may have seen either as a replacement for eggs in recipes!).

The thing that helped us immensely was adding Benefiber to her bottle. Your granddaughter is probably past the bottle stage (er, mine should be too, LOL) but you can add Benefiber to anything she's drinking or eating. They make a version for kids that you can get at Target. If my daughter shows any signs of constipation, I start adding it to her drink immediately, and it usually helps. Good luck!

I had the same problem with my daughter shes now 5 but it started when she was around 1. The first Doctor I took her to was a family Doctor and she would say just give her fiber and fruit...that didnt work very well my daugher was always constipated no matter how much fruit & fiber I gave her. Finally I found a amazing Pediatrician(not sure if thats spelled correctly) and immediately she told me that there are alot of kids who go through this and simple fiber and juice wont help the kids that have it as bad as my daughter. Si she prescribed Miralax powder, I know theres Mom out there that say dont use it..but those Moms have never seen my daughter terrified and screaming to go #2. I tried it and it has made our lives so much better! I hated to see her in pain. We now dont even have to use it all the time, I give it to her about once a week.They also have it over the counter now. Good luck!!

My son had the same problem. He started getting constipated around 10 monthys and got really bad when he turned 1. it broke my heart to watch him. He teared and bleed once trying to go. We tried everything diet related. He was having plenty of the right fruits and vegetables, prune juice, you name it. Finally the pediatritian put him on Miralax and said that if that did not work, he would have to go to a specialist. The Miralax worked. He was on it for about 1 year. First I mixed it with his juice twice a day and as he was having regular stools, he slowly weaned off the miralax. He has now being "miralax" free for 18 months. I still have to be carefull and make sure he does not miss his dose of fruits and vegetables daily. If we are on a trip and the routine goes off, then he starts getting constipated again. But it has never been like it was when he had the problem. Good luck to you, and I hope the mom cooperates. My son had such a hard time that I think he got traumatized by it and it was really hard to potty train "number 2". To this day he still tries to hold it because he thinks it is going to hurt.

I would strongly recommend that your son speak to the pediatrician himself - maybe clarifying the problem and learning what foods to avoid (peas and green beans probably), and which ones to encourage (beans).

My niece Carol had the same problem and her mom gave her "special soda" everyday. It was prune juice mixed with 7up. (Interestingly enough, my MIL says Carol's mom had the same thing!) I am not an advocate of soda, but if the dr thinks it is ok, maybe some carbonated water mixed with prune juice. Sounds like mom is resigned to the difficulty. You probably know to advise your son to be careful with the suppositories - overuse can lead to dependency.

Good luck!

My daughter got constipation at around 8 months..and we were able to give her prunes for it. When I talked to the dr about it he said if prunes work keep giving prunes every day. So thats what we did. She eventually grew out of it. So I think the mom is right...some kids just have more of a tendency to get that way. I would suggest keep up with the prunes and items that work for her...it sounds like the mom needs to keep up with it too.

OM goodness!!! THis was me. My now 4 yr old is doing way better and my 18 month old is constipation free. I was so tired of even telling the doctors and friends about this because they kept telling me juice, prune etc and so on. Like i'm an idiot and I hadnt' thought of that. I knew it was something more and obviously in the genes!
It started when they were about 5-6 months old and for EVERY bowel movement he and she screamed! And I could see why. I did not want my son to go through what my daughter did so I started trouble shooting and stopped asking the doctor! (just on this subject, I feel my doctor is very knowledgable, I just wasn't getting help on this subject) I bought Oat Bran, All Natural, Hot Cereal by Hodgson Mill. You can find it at almost all grocery stores (not walmart though) for under 3 dollars and it lasts a few weeks! And it's nummy! I fed that to him every day, every morning until his stools were loose! His sister eats is too and although her stools are still like round balls, they come out easily and she is not grunting in the bathroom. He doens't have it every day now. Maybe twice a week or if I notice that he is struggling again. I figured he must have been fiber deficient! So make it part of their diet and you dont' ahve to mess with yucky medicines and thick syrups! Sometimes it helps to just read about how our/their body works and go from there.

I know you had tons of advice but I needed to write because I went through the same thing! 2x

I found Quaker Oatmeal Bars work wonders with my daughter. They have different flavors such as Apples & Cinnamon and Rasberry that work the best for us. They keep her regular as long as she eats them daily. I would find out the type of diet her mother is feeding her? It sounds like that could be part of the problem too.
Good Luck.

Hi S.,
Looks like you already have some good advice. I do agree with all the posts that say no bananas. Apples and prune juice even grape juice are great too.
Since you have the issue under control during your week, you really need to consult the mother. If you still have a good relationship with her, get together with her for coffee. Set a date where you can meet where she feels comfortable. Approach it as a "it's the darndest thing" kind of conversation. She is still the mother of your grandbabies and just because she and your son are divorcing doesn't mean you can't still get along with each other. If you maintain a good trusting relationship with her then these conversations will go well.
Hope it all turns out well for you.

apples juice and prune and cherry

bananas actual bind so be careful there. cheese also binds you.

oatmeal and fiber help too. whole wheat products and cut out refined flour.

Hi S.,
When my son was a little younger our doctor suggested giving him 1T. of dark corn syrup in his bottle and that seemed to help. Fortunately he eats lots of fruits and no longer has the issue. Good luck!

this may be a repeat...didn't read the others...
I just saw an advertisement in Parents Magazine for a new product from the makes of Pediasure and Pedialyte, called Pedia-Lax. says it's the first laxative for kids. i would check with the dr. before trying it!

My 18 month old daughter has been badly constipated since birth. My dr has me give her a half cap full of Myralax daily. That has helped her out tremendously! Of course, ask your dr first but that has worked for us. I tried the prune juice first and it didn't really help my daughter so that's why we moved on to the medicine. Good luck

I'm glad your son is giving her apples and prune juice. When my son was in Kdg, he was constipated for 2 weeks and ended up with streptococcus of his rectum--he had anal fissures and it was VERY painful. We tried miralax which is now available over the counter. I wouldn't suggest bananas as that is what docs prescribe for diarrhea--you know the BRAT diet (bananas rice applesauce toast)...more veggies with fibers, raisins....I ended up using the suppositories to no avail and then had luck with enemas which was messy but effective. Good luck. I don't want your granddaughter to end up like my son. By the way, he's almost 10 now and has no problems since he was in 1st grade. :)

First...NO bananas, milk or cheese as they are all constipating. She needs lots of water, apple or prune juice, raisins, green veggies, the apples are great...apple cider is good for this too, AND don't forget physical activity to keep things moving. She should be going more than 1-2 times a week...oh my, more like at least once a DAY! Poor little thing. Her mom needs to pay more attention to this. If it continues she could be in for some permanant problems. She is lucky to have you looking out for her! I hope this helps.

You've already gotten some great advice so I won't repeat, but I will add that steamed zucchini or broccoli, sweet potatoes, grapes, pears, watered down juice, tomato slices or cucumber are GREAT for fiber and softening stool. Many people think of fiber as only being bread. I know I used to, but it's actually greens, veggies and fruit that has best fiber to do this job. Breads, dairy, and bananas bind. I hope you find a way to help your precious grand-daughter. :o)

I am sorry if it sounds obvious, but has he told the mother what he seems to have luck with? Maybe if she were to try it for 2 weeks and see the difference? Worth a try, anyway. Apprach it as a "hey, coudl we try this for a few weeks" so she doesn't feel like she is beign told what to do?

My niece had to have yogurt everyday. That seemed to help her.

Good luck!!

Does she eat vegetables. We talk alot to my son about eating vegetables and how it will help make it easiier to to go. If she will eat granola bars, start getting Fiber One bars. They really taste good (my kids eat them)so you probably won't have any issues with that. They come in lots of flavors. I wish they had less sugar but the benefit outways the concern. Also you can try a reduced dose of Miralax in one of her beverages. She probably wouldn't need this everyday after she gets things moving. This used to be RX but now you can just buy it. You can get small bottles at Target or anyplace like that or big two packs at Costco. However it sounds like you need to get "mom" on board. She shouldn't have to suffer like that.

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