14 answers

2 Year Old Bowel Movements

My daughter is 2 years, 4 months. She has always had loose stools from the time she was a newborn. She also always had 2-3 BM's a day. I chalked it up to the breastfeeding and as she started eating food, I saw her BM's become a bit more solid (and were down to 1-2 BM's a day). However, I am now beginning to get worried because a true solid BM is now a rare occurance. Most times it's loose to VERY loose. She's always been a big milk drinker, so we've tried cutting that down. For a week, I tried taking milk out of her diet and I did notice a difference. All she drank was water (she's never had juice). She did continue to eat other dairy products that week (like yougurt and cheese). I'm now allowing her to have milk at lunch (just 6-8 oz). However, her BM was solid in the morning and then loose in the afternoon (after drinking the milk 3 hours earlier). I'm a bit concerned here as I see potty training in the future and I feel she should be a bit more solid. I'm also concerned about a possible lactose intolerance. I should point out that she never seems to be uncomfortable or in any pain and also isn't that gassy...so that is where I'm not sure if this is an issue where she IS lactose intolerant or she simply just has too much dairy in her diet. Has anyone else out there experienced this? I have consulted the nurse at the pediatrican's office and they said to take all dairy out to see if there is a difference before they would actually be concerned and run tests. I'm just not sure what is actually "normal" at this point to be at a point where I should get her to a doctor. Any suggestions would be much appreicated. Thanks!

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Thanks for all the advice; it certainly made me feel a bit better. FYI - she does eat lots of bread (whole wheat), oatmeal and bananas almost every morning and drinks no juice. The milk she does drink is organic. Right now, I did stay firm with taking milk away for almost 2 weeks, but she managed to get some at the daycare. Just taking it away for that time did seem to help a bit. So, I think just taking the large milk intake away just took a couple weeks to settle her down. Now she actually ASKS for water! I will continue to monitor for a few more days before I allow her to drink more milk. And then we'll go from there to see what her response is and which route (from all your suggestions) is best for her. But for now, it's looks SO much better! Thanks so much for everyone advice. I have printed out your responsed to keep handy in future.

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l wouldn't remove the dairy products. She really needs that calcium for bone growth. Milk doesn't make a child go BM more often unless she's lactose intolerant and the diarrhea would be accompanied by cramping and upset tummy. Not to mention it would be more than 2-3 times a day!
It sounds like you need to add more foods to firm her up! Try giving her a banana and oatmeal every morning. It should firm things up in no time.
Also- remember that her BMs are getting smushed in her diaper and may end up looking less solid when you change her diaper. If she went in a potty chair it would probably look more formed.
Good luck.

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I have a son who is 2 1/2 years old and he also has very loose stools. And I have not been able to figure out why. It never crossed my mind that it was because of milk. When he is at daycare all he drinks is milk. When he is at home we give him orange juice and other liquids at night and on the weekends. I include bananas in his diet hoping that would help, but it does not seem to make a difference. I would be interested if anyone had any other thoughts or experiences with this.

My son was the same way. Check at your grocery to see if they have milk with the Lactase Bacteria in it or ask if they have Acidophilus Milk. Also if you give her yogurt, make sure it also has the Live Culture Bacteria as well. Not all yogurts are equal.

Funny story about my son. We went to visit his grandmother (dad's mom) and just couldn't find the milk in her area. She insisted on giving him milk. I told her if he had a problem, she would have to clean it up. Well, oops, he did all over her bathroom. AND yes, she did clean it. Well, no more homogenize milk after that at grandmas. That one episode didn't seem to bother him, but granny had a lot of cleaning to do. :)

Several bowel movements a day is actually very healthy - going only once a day really allows things to build up inside which is not desirable. Stools should move easily. If the consistency is too loose and liquidy, that could indicate a problem. I don't think there is any reason she really needs milk in her diet - you can get the necessary nutrients through other sources, either continuing with cheese and yogurt or adding a delicious nutritious supplement to her diet that will give her all the nutrients she needs without the problem from milk. Doctors often recommend that people cut out all kinds of foods when it's really not necessary and when it becomes a huge hassle. I see so many posts here on Mamasource from moms whose doctors/nurses/nutritionists have told them to remove all wheat, soy, dairy and whatever else from their diets - it might seem to solve the problem, but then the moms go home and can't find the "right" foods for their kids, can't send them to birthday parties or take them to restaurants, etc.! What a nuisance! And what a punishment for the child! There are people who appear to be "lactose intolerant" who really can tolerate a lot more than they think, especially if they have the right balance. My son no longer is "lactose intolerant" because he's got the right supplement - and what a joy it is to see him be able to go out with friends and eat what he wants! He started out throwing up and getting a rash from dairy when he was little, and now he can eat anything! So I would be very careful about being pressured to remove everything from her right now.

If her BMs look like diarrhea and cleaning her is a problem, then you may need to cut out the milk but keep in the cheese and yogurt if those aren't causing problems. Potty training will actually be much easier if she can move her bowels easily. Kids get frustrated sitting on the potty waiting for things to "happen" - and they often don't understand about pushing out the poop. If they are regular as well as moving softer stools, it's easier for them to train, and it's healthier!

Good luck and let me know if you want to talk more.

l wouldn't remove the dairy products. She really needs that calcium for bone growth. Milk doesn't make a child go BM more often unless she's lactose intolerant and the diarrhea would be accompanied by cramping and upset tummy. Not to mention it would be more than 2-3 times a day!
It sounds like you need to add more foods to firm her up! Try giving her a banana and oatmeal every morning. It should firm things up in no time.
Also- remember that her BMs are getting smushed in her diaper and may end up looking less solid when you change her diaper. If she went in a potty chair it would probably look more formed.
Good luck.

If I were you, I would challenge her for a dairy allergy by taking all dairy out of her diet for 2 weeks. Then very slowly add it back (yogurt is a great first). Both of my girls had milk protein allergies as infants. It's hard to remove it completely, but in order to do it correctly you really should be very diligent in no dairy for the whole 2 weeks.

Hi, my 2 yr old had some of these problems too. She had a milk and a soy allergy and loose stools until just recently. We do not do whole milk or soy milk, but she can now eat yogurt and cheese. I would try to increase her whole grains as that worked for us (think granola!)and bananas. We also do not serve juice so that helps. The one thing that her gastroenterologist told us was that looser stools can make potty training easier (which I thought the opposite) because kids that make only firm solids can hold it in for days. Also, and please excuse the disgusting nature of this, but you should regularly check her stool for sandy type stuff (usually means allergy to something she's eating) or blood (also usually means allergy but should be brought up to doctor and most likely will need to be sent to lab for anylization just to be safe). Good luck to you.

It certainly sounds to me like a milk intolerance (myself and both my kids have it to some degree) and milk intolerance is actually very common, especially for those of Western European heritage (most people just aren't bothered enough to notice and stop). I would remove all dairy from your daughter's diet and keep in mind that allergens stay in the body for 3 weeks so you'll need to go at least that long to know for sure. Be very conscious of reading labels - milk is hidden in a lot of prepackaged foods and vitamins. Soy milk, rice milk and other nut milks are widely available in most grocery stores and provide the same amount of calcium as regular milk. There are also some really good milk free cookbooks on the market if milk turns out to be the issue. Good luck!

This sounds like lactose intolerance to me. However, taking out all dairy isnt the solution, but taking out pourable milk is. Most people with lactose intolerance can eat processed milk products, like cheese and yogurt, without incident, but drinking milk causes a problem. She still needs her calcium, so continue giving her yogurt and cheese.
I also wonder if she eats enough fiber... A diet high in things like whole grain bread bulks up stools so they are more well-formed.

Both my sons have many allergies. This could be a symptom of an allergy not just an intolerance. Get tested. If she is allergic to the foods she is eting she could have more severe damage if this continues. We go to Dr. Anne Wang - Dohlman.

Hi J.,

My son also had very loose stool as an infant.
A bit like a firehose. I thought it was due to breastfeeding. My mother told me at the advanced age he was at it should have been more formed. Around the age of 4 he would vomit for unexplained reasons. I can't remember what his stool was like at that age. It did go from being very loose to difficult to get out. He'd also have nightmares numerous times per night. We finally went on the Paleo diet. That was due to my health problems. I figured since he was my son, he probably was experiencing the same problems as me, but worse. He greatly improved.
I agree with Diane B. that more than one b.m. per day is good but I would respectfully disagree with her opinion that being on a special diet is a poor choice. Our health has greatly improved and we feel worse when we eat foods that our bodies do not tolerate. I do what is necessary for the health of my family. I could care less what other people eat. That is their choice. I do not want my children doing something just because other people are doing something. That's not a good lesson to teach children. Everyone is different and everyone needs to take care of theirselves in whatever way is healthiest for them. When there are parties, I pack them their own treat. I also have friends that respect our diet and provide foods that are acceptable for us and I do the same for them.

Good luck,
: ) M.

Hi J.,

I haven't had direct experience with this, but a close friend has. Her oldest daughter went through the very same symptoms and she had strong concerns because although her daughter ate like crazy, she wasn't gaining weight. She NEVER had a solid stool since birth it was always diahrrea, and after many adjustments to her diet, the problem remained.

Unfortunately, her pediatrician wrote off her concerns ("inexperienced new mom", etc.) until the child was about a year old and had gained very little weight over her first year. In the meantime, my friend researched everything she could find on the subject. Low and behold, she came upon information about a GLUTEN ALLERGY -- upon having her tested at Boston Children's Hospital, it was confirmed.

Gluten is present in all kinds of foods -- not just wheat products -- so it's important to have guidance in this area. Subsequently, the child's two younger brothers and eventually her own father were also diagnosed. Although their mom is not affected, she is a SAHM and does all of the grocery shopping and meal prep and is meticulous about following the diet exactly. Needless to say, this solved the problem and although it can be a lot of work to follow, there are many more options out there in terms of gluten-free breads (rice flour is OK) and even baked goods that the children can have. My understanding is that the purchase of these special foods can be used as a tax deduction as well.

In case you're wondering, she did change pediatricians and is very satisfied with the level of care and guidance she receives from her present doctor.

I hope this helps!

J., both my kids went through this and we discovered they are mildly lactose intolerant. Try 1% milk and if that doesn't help or make a difference try Lactaid, a lactose free milk. You should notice the difference right away.

Good luck!

My son was the same way. Finally, when he was about 2.5, I cut out all dairy for 2 weeks--saw an improvement within one day!! I slowly added it back, starting with yogurt, and he had loose stool a few hours later. If I were you, I'd cut out all dairy for a while, then slowly add it back, one thing at a time.

Eating without dairy isn't as hard as I thought it would be. My husband is from Wisconsin (land of cheese and milk) and my oldest child doesn't have the same issues, but even with these dairy-lovers in the house, we've been able to remove it 99% from our son's diet. He's 4.5 now and doing great.

Also--my Dr. said allergy testing wasn't really necessary as long as the symptoms had gone away. Basically, he agreed that I'd figured it out and was happy to let us carry on.

Good luck!

I don't know if you have solved this already, but if not, here is my non-expert suggestion! My now 3 year old son became lactose intolerant after a nasty stomach virus when he was 22 months old. He never displayed the common symptoms like discomfort or gassyness, but did have the super-loose stools. But he really loves all things dairy, and is not so interested in soy products. I've found that by giving him the lactose free milks (Lactaid, Land o' Lakes, or even Shaw's brand) to drink, he can still have regular cheeses, yogurts, and such without BM problems. I can tell the difference in tastes between the regular and lactose free milks, but it doesn't seem to bother him. This moderation tactic works very well for him and he is well on his way to potty training success! Best of luck to you!

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