37 answers

2-Year-old SCREAMS with Bowel Movement/needs Help

My almost 2-year-old (in diapers) has a bowel movement every 2 or 3 days. She SCREAMS and can no longer even complete it. I have grab baby wipes and help her. Before, she would just SCREAM but always do it by herself. As an infant she had a bowel movement every 2 to 4 days. This is beyond constipation now. Any ideas about this? She goes to the Dr. next week for a well visit. In the past it has been treated as constipation (sort of blown off as normal), but now it seems quite serious. It is EVERY TIME.

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What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

She was given Miralax. We are still waiting for it to work, and it has been over a day. The issue seems to be she WON'T go, not that she can't. She is afraid of the pain, so by holding it she causes it. It's a cycle!

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Unless you discover a medical issue, PRUNES. Helps my one year old - gerber makes them, alone in a jar or with apples. He actually likes it too. Relieves the problem within a day and makes it softer and easier for him.

This sounds very similar to a younger patient in my office who had chronic painful constipation. As a pediatric chiropractor we found miscommunication in her spinal nerves that control the bowels. Once her spine was lined up, bowel movements became normal. Keep in mind her mom had already done medications and dietary changes, so those possibilities were already ruled out. Feel free to contact me with questions or to find a ped chiro near you go to www.icpa4kids.org.

Have you tried giving him a stool softener? Maybe she should be eating more foods that are good for the digestive tract (like fiber-rich foods).

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I am so sorry to hear about your baby's pain. it's always hard when your child's hurting and you feel helpless. My son had the same issue and like your daughter it became progressively worst. He would hold it for almost a week and then scream and bleed when he finally could hold it no longer. I tried normal laxatives but none of them worked. His pediatrician recomended him to a constipation clinic. (I hope that's right) I am so sorry that I cannot remember the exact name of the hospital. However I think it was Larabida. They said that the problem was not only common but that it is often overlooked. The doctor said that he'd probabaly had a rough bowel movement or two and then began to assosiate them with pain which led to him holding them for as long as he could. She perscribed a medication that made him go easily and without pain. It didn't totally soften the stool but he could no longer hold it. After that one prescription (thay by the way was in a huge bottle and was an adult dose beacuse of the severity of his condition) he no longer associated bowel movements with pain and we never had to do anything else. I had never even know that there was such a thing as this clinic. My son was two at the time now he's six. I hope that this helps you and your baby. God bless!

1 mom found this helpful

Unless you discover a medical issue, PRUNES. Helps my one year old - gerber makes them, alone in a jar or with apples. He actually likes it too. Relieves the problem within a day and makes it softer and easier for him.

Here are the things our ped suggested when we went thru this with our son.

step 1 get juicy juice cherry juice. the others are great but cherry seems to really "move" things along. give her a good size glass of it each day.

if that doesn't work
step 2 mix up some clear karo syrup into a glass of warm milk. about 2 tablespoons and a little vanilla. it will taste like a vanilla shake. do that each day and see if that helps

if that doesn't work
step 3
mineral oil or castor oil a tablespoon should work for your daughters age. mineral oil comes in a big bottle for like 2 bucks at walgreens. you can either give it in a spoon or if she won't drink it that way then mix it in a little bit of juice. she will go within a short time. then jsut give it to her every day for a week or two till she is used to going at the same time each day.
good luck

Give her Miralax, it is over the counter and can be mixed with anything, it softens the stool and gets you regular, I had to use it with both my kids when they were younger and it worked so well! I keep it around and mix it in their juice when I know they are struggling still! It is a miracle truly and they never know they drink it!

Hi M. The best advice will come from her doctor. He'll probably go more in depth as to what causing this. If he doesn't get another opinion from another doctor.

M. G,

After my son was born, he did not eat for 10-11 months. We had to give him an enema for babies. He would only eat milk with cereal (it was sooooo strange). After this period, he started eating everything. Make sure she is eating vegetables (soft broccoli w/cheese, spinach,bags of salad), fruits, oats, water, juice, milk helps you to stay regular. I was really scared during that period. Try some of these suggestions and hopefully they'll work.

All the Best!

I had a very similar problem with one of my twins, but it started when she was a month old. She was smaller and her sphincter was too small/tight. My pediatrician kept blowing me off, saying it was colic. Since I have a PPO and colon problems are genetic, I blew her off and took my child to a pediatric gastroenterologist. He dialated her and you would not believe what came out of her. She was then treated for constipation problems until she was about your daughter's age and we were again having issues, just like yours. I took her back to the University of Chicago and she was biopsied for Herschsprung's disease. Luckily the biopsy was negative, but since it did remove a small length at the base of her bowel, the biopsy has solved her problem. Now I just have to make sure she is drinking enough, otherwise I have to give her Miralax as recommended by the surgeon.

Have you had her tested for food allergies?

An internet friend of mine’s son was diagnosed with a distended bowel from constipation related to food allergies. Since changing his diet to exclude all food allergens, he has been regulating & has very minimal residual issues.

Good luck!

constipation is NOT normal. She is either not eating enough fiber or has some sort of food intolerance. Try upping the fiber intake first and if that doesnt help check out the food issues possibility. You can give her liquid fish oil to help with the constipation, and ground flax seeds (put it in smoothies, oatmeal, cereal, etc.) doesnt taste weird and is so finely grounded he isnt going to even notice or call them sprinkles. Start with a little and work it up so she doesnt notice, but honestly it doesnt really have a taste.

O and some older kids know how it hurts when they are constipated so they avoid going at all until they are even more constipated so its a vicious cycle. If that is what is happening it will take months of her having soft ones to stop that fear. watch the cheese dairy intake and up all the good fiber containing foods as well as what I have suggested which should do the trick

With my daughter (she's 3 now) it has been a constant problem. She would scream, tremble, cry, I felt just awful for her. It would get to the point where babylax wouldn't work. We tried the natural way, prunes, fiber, but even when we got her to eat it, it wasn't enough. The doctor suggested miralax and we have been giving it to her in small doses daily just to keep "things" soft and it's worked great. Very, very rarely have re revisited old problems, and that's only when I haven't given her the miralax. I'm sure this is something she will grow out of, but in the meantime, I don't want to see her in pain or, maybe worse, develop a "holding" habit.


I am all for natural remedies, my daughter had similar issues. I give her dried apricots and figs,grapes as a snack when ever I can, prune juice mixed with fruit punch to hide the taste, freshly squeezed orange juice and I water down juice to make her drink more( she isn't keen on water alone and I think not drinking enough really contributes to hard stools)I also give her blueberries, apple sauce pouches and strawberries for dessert to help move things along.
Bitesize shredded wheat breakfast cereal and wheat toast are really good to add fibre.
My Doctor told me fatty foods make the stools very hard and pebbly so try to cut out that where you can.

Hope that helps,

Sal x

I would call the doctor and talk to them todey. My daughter was having issues and they saw her that day. We went in and now mix half cap of miralax with her juice in the morning. But ask the doctor and see.

My neice had the same problem with her daughter. I told her to tell the doctor exactly what was going on and not to let the doctor leave the exam room with out doing something. The doctor perscribed a perscription for her to give daily and it has made a total difference. Good luck

Try miralax it is a stool softener safe for that age over the counter, increase her fluid intake, if she's red in her private Vaseline for healing n pai
n relief my daughter suffered from something similar this helpedhope it helps u

This sounds very similar to a younger patient in my office who had chronic painful constipation. As a pediatric chiropractor we found miscommunication in her spinal nerves that control the bowels. Once her spine was lined up, bowel movements became normal. Keep in mind her mom had already done medications and dietary changes, so those possibilities were already ruled out. Feel free to contact me with questions or to find a ped chiro near you go to www.icpa4kids.org.

My daughter is 7 now, and still has this issue every once in awhile. We had her on Miralax, and I still do this every few days. She will also take a teaspoon of mineral oil if needed. or if all else fails, I have her sit in a warm bath to soften it up.

The doctor may ask you to keep a food diary to possibly track if certain foods are causing, and will probably tell you to increase her fiber intake.

ok this mite sound funny but my son when thought the same thing and i started giving him 3 to 4 figs in the morning it helps to keep the poop soft and comes out with out being in pain try that over the next few days and see i still give my son figs he was 3 when i started them and he will be 7 in 2 months good luck i hope this works

I feel for you. My daughter had the same problem. I also took her to the doctor, made numerous phone calls, etc. When my daughter's constipation got so bad I had to use the Pedialax liquid (kind of like an enema). Of course, she didn't like that at all (don't blame her). She screamed and I felt horrible, but her tummy was so hard and hurting that I knew I had no choice, and wanted to help her go. It will give her explosive diarrhea-at least mine did (careful if she's still in a diaper-it may overfill and start running down her leg), but it will also give her instant relief. Then, she had to take Miralax daily for quite awhile to "retrain" her bowels. (You just mix it with her juice and she'll never know) It took about a month or two, but she was finally able to start going poop without being scared to go. By the way, I was also trying to potty train (my daughter was about 2 1/2 or 3)so the constipation just made that worse.
Anyway, good luck and I hope some of this info helps!

I feel like I am reading my own story just a few months ago. I am so sorry your daughter is going through this. My 2.5 year old did the same thing and it was awful to see her in so much pain. It was just horrible. We tried every kind of natural laxative and it still didn't work. We gave her a supposatory and that didn't really even work all that well. What ended up helping a lot was actually giving her fiber. I bought the powder fiber and mixed it with her milk in the morning and at night. This helped SOOOOO much! I kept it up for awhile becuase she has always had bowel issues just as you described your daughter has. I eventually reduced the amount of fiber until I wasn't giving it to her anymore. Every now and then if she starts to struggle a little too much with her bowl movements I wills start giving her the fiber again. Good luck to you, I hope something helps, I know how awful it is to watch your baby go through something like that.

To me it sounds like she's not getting enough water in her system.......

Aw, poor baby. Try increasing water and fiber. Great sources of fiber include fruits, veggies and prunes or bran. If she doesn't take well to the fruits and veggies, try prunes - or even baby food jars of prunes can be mixed into different things, but keep in mind a little of this goes a long way! Start slowly with it. Then try to reduce constipating foods like cheese. If you need more information, probiotics can help a lot too with regularity and are safe for children if you are taking the right ones. I rep for Shaklee and can give you more information if you'd like. I do give this to my three year old though and have done so since she was little, and it helps us all a lot!


My son had the same problem. My ped recommended giving him stool softner (which you can buy over the counter) it worked like a charm. Hope that solves your problem too. She's probably holding it in because it's so painful to poop. The stool softner will make her fear go away as well.

My son is 3, for the past year or more he's been on mirilax. His doctor recommended it. He gets just under 1/2 capful each morning. If I miss a day, he has trouble. His diet consists of no fiber, he is a very poor eater which I'm sure is why he has issues.

My daughter (now 6) was the same way. The screams were horrible. She would be playing one minute and the next minute crying. Raisins & prunes are good, but if you have a picky eater that might not work. I noticed that my daughter had a hard time with milk & cheese. She loves both and since she is a picky eater I did not want to take these things away from her. I do limit both and pay close attention to her BM to make sure she doesn't get too much of either one. She only gets milk once a day now. I give her Benefiber once or twice a day (your daughter is only 2 so I think once a day is all she can have). It does not have a taste so you can put it in water and they can't taste it. The benefiber works great and makes her go more regularly so that it doesn't hurt when she does go. My daughter knows that it works so now she will ask for it if she is feeling like she needs it. Good luck, I feel your pain.

My daughter (almost two) has been going through the same thing, and it's hard to watch them go through that and feel helpless. Our daughter would scream, cry, shake and break into a sweat! Her doctor put her on lactulose (a prescription stool softener) and when that didn't work he also added sena (a laxative). The combination has been working for her, though her stool is very loose I think it's better than not going at all! She will be on these meds for about three months, the doctor says her colon has become lazy and needs to be re-trained in a sense.

I hope your daughter gets better soon!

Hey M. G,
I would suggest getting your daughter on a pro-biotic asap. You can get them in powder form and add them to smoothies or get a chewable. My son had similar issues- pooping every 3-4 days and now he poops once a day pretty regularly. We use the Renew Life flora bear chewables. I get them at whole foods, but you can order them online at www.vitacost.com I hope that helps.

I went through this with my son at that same age. We ended up in the hospital he was in so much pain and screaming. The doctors put him on Miralax, which now is sold OTC. It is non-habit forming and works GREAT! However, once she is going fine again, and she will, don't just stop it cold turkey. You have to wean her off slowly. Otherwise, she will get stopped up again really bad. My son was on it for almost a year and he is totally fine now he is 6.
Take care! And good luck.

Both of my children have been given prescription Miralax for constipation. Neither of theirs got that bad though.
Also you can try prune juice.
Good luck.

My son (22 months) had/has some bowel movement issues since he was a baby- lots of straining and crying and we would have to hold him or help him with a bm. I talked to my dr. about it and she said its normal but her concern is when it comes time to potty train, if there is no consistency and constipation issues it will be really hard. So what she recommended was to give him lots of natural food help- prumes, dried fruit, etc. to soften it up and get him to go every day. I think this might be the best first step for you and then there is also medicene but if your like me, I'd rather try the natural way first! So, what I do is give him LOTS of fiber in his meals and have him eat or drink prumes or prune or apple juice or the other thing that really helps is to make your own apple sauce and add prunes to it. They get all ground up together after you bake it and are a better consistency. Also lots of water. Another thing that I learned from a lactation consultant is that if your baby has a red ring around their anus- they probably have a food allergy. My son had this and we had to cut out dairy when he was little but this is something to look for. This has really helped my son, I hope it might be helpful to you :) S.


I give my daugter who is 4 years old the Pedi-Lax (Fiber Gummies) they taste good too. She takes just one everyday and she is able to go to the restroom with no problem. : )

Could be allergies...but definitely make sure she's getting enough water and fiber. At her age, it's probably best to get that fiber from foods. Definitely do not give her suppositories as this leads to a bigger problem! (emergency doc only type thing)
good luck, see what her doc says

My son had this problem at 2, and we were given a prescription for Miralax (it is since an over the counter drug) However, after some research on it, it may not be as safe for some kids as led to believe. Instead we added magnesium (as a supplement) to his diet, prune juice and prunes, limited dairy and wheat.

Best of luck - it is very hard on everyone.

I know EXACTLY how you feel, my two year old son does the same thing. I describe it as "it sounds like hes giving birth". It's so horrible, it makes me cry too. I've tried just about everything (mineral oil, castor oil, suppositories liquid and glycerine, chewable laxatives, melt away laxitives, miralax... etc) The only thing that really works for him is apple juice. A bottle or two a day seems to keep him regular. It may give her diarrhea, but at least she'll be able to go without screaming. I think I've narrowed the cause to 1) too much milk and 2) believe it or not, hot dogs. Good luck!

what happens if you feed her lots and lots of orange juice? Does that alleviate some problems? Also, is there anything that could cause her body to contain toxins? Constipation is often the body's way of saying "something toxic is inside me"

Before you give your daughter anything I would call and talk to the nurses at the office. They will help you until you go in for your well visit, or if they think advice you what they think is best.

Diet always plays some part in the constipation. The nurse at my sons' dr.'s office told me to try apple prune juice. That really helped. I just make sure that twice a week he gets half of a bottle, which I think is four ounces. You might want to try and up the fiber in her diet.

Good luck!

Have you tried giving him a stool softener? Maybe she should be eating more foods that are good for the digestive tract (like fiber-rich foods).

When my daughter went through that she was a bit younger (about 20-24 mos). She'd run around holding her back side. We took her to the chiro and he would push her "poop button" (adjust her) and she'd have a bowel movement later that day without a problem. Really, though, the issue was emotional. No amount of fiber made a difference. After each adjustment we'd go through the same thing all over again. She was too young to speak, so, her body spoke for her. What doesn't come out verbally, comes out physically. There was a lot of tension between my husband and I. Once we resolved that, her constipation issues went away.

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