18 answers

2 Yr Old Daughter Holding Poop In... What Can I Do?

Hi Everyone! My 2.5-yr-old daughter has been having constipation issues since September. Our pediatrician told us NOT to potty train her b/c it might make the constipation worse, so we haven't. In October, we were in the ER b/c she was having SEVERE abdominal pain and after an x-ray, they saw that her bowels were COMPLETELY full of stool. She won't go b/c it hurts her. So, now we are on 2 Tsp of Milk of Magnesia EVERY day. She usually goes poo every other day or so and it is very loose stool when she does go. She does these "poopy dances" where she is trying to get it NOT to come out. How can we convince her that this is the right thing to let it out? It's been almost 6 months now and we are at our wits end. She is now also scared of the toilet. She thinks she will fall into the big potty and she is not interested at all in panties or her little potty... Any ideas? Will potty training her help? Just wondering what other moms have done in this situation!
Thank you So much!

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you SO much to everyone for your wonderful advice! To hear that others are going through the same thing is helpful in and of itself. We have already been limiting her diet (no bananas, apples, or cheese and VERY little milk/yogurt) since October and that hasn't helped much since it is mostly psychological. She started preschool in January 3 mornings a week and I think the potty may have scared her there. This week was her spring break from preschool so we took the plunge and decided to potty train her this week. And guess what? She is pooping on the potty TWO times a day but she WILL NOT pee! Isn't that weird? I heard that pooping on the potty is the hard part and that the peeing will come easily soon. So far, I'm just thrilled that the potty might be helping her "psychological constipation!" Thank you all again SO much for your support, thoughts, suggestions, and accounts of what has happened with you and your children! You are all great Moms and Grandmoms!

Featured Answers

Poor baby. I suffered from chronic constipation for many, many years, so I know how this little one feels. Two things, 2oz of prune juice a night, up it to three if you do not see results in 3 days. Also, water, water, water. Cut out ALL bananas, raisins, nuts, chocolate and cheese. Some people are very sensetive to cheese and milk. She could be constipated because of a lactose intolerance. Cut back on all milk products. Lastly, plenty of exercise. Run, run, run. Good luck, sweetie.

More Answers


I have to say that alot of what Fanny says is right on. Just letting her see that it is not a bad thing is the right thing. My son is 6 and has had bowel issues since he was 10 months old. He still has bowel issues and he currently takes miralax everyday to help eleviate the problem. What this does is help to make the stool very loose so that it doesn't hurt at all when he goes. He actually sees a gastroenterologist every 3-4 months to ensure that everything is going okay. He actually just had bloodwork to ensure that there is not an underlying problem. I would ask your doctor to recomment a GI doctor to see if there might be a deeper lying issue with your little one.

I wish you the best of luck. In the mean time just let her know that it is not a bad thing to go poopies, it is a good thing and that everyone does it.

Good luck.

36 y/o SAHM of 3 boys
14, 6 and 3

I would suggest you consult with some alternative/holistic oriented physician who would get to the bottom of why she's been having constipation issues (no pun intended). Those regular doses of magnesium shouldn't be needed for so long. There may be something she's eating that her body doesn't handle properly and causes constipation (milk products are one possibility), and probiotic supplements might also help her regularize (Garden of Life has nice banana flavored probiotics for kids). Normalizing this bowel issue would be good before putting effort into potty-training and will make it easier for your child to potty-train. One thing I'd encourage is to completely avoid any vaccinations while this issue is present since they can disturb GI functioning.

Well, I'll tell you what I do with my ULTRA-constipated-never- wants-to-go-hold-it-all-in-forever daughter. We just give her everything that will make her go... Prunes, or prune juice, fiber in every meal, cut the milk, we have this natural syrup called Califig, it works wonders.I got it from a friend in Jamaica, but it is a US natural product. Just give her anything that will make her feel the need to go.
Now, when she gets the urge is the tricky part.What you need to do is "demystify" poo. Let her observe or be around when you go. If she has accidents, it's no big deal, praise her for the poo, but tell her she did it in the wrong spot. Let her flush. Do not in any case look disgusted when you have to pick it up the floor or from where ever and offer lots of praise when she does it.
It will take some time, but soon enough, if you do it right, she'll stop being afraid. The thing is she figures, if she holds it in, it won't hurt. But the more she keeps it in, the worse it gets. So you need to get rid of the "backlog" so to speak. Ask your doctor to show you how to feel her belly to make sure her bowels are empty. I have spent countless hours with her on the potty waiting for "IT"...
If you need more advise, don't hesitate to message me personnaly, I'll be glad to answer more specific questions if you have any

Good luck!

When my son was potty training, he would constipate himself as well. His pediatrician recommended Miralax. It's a powder, has no taste, and you can use as often as needed. Just put it any drink. It won't make her go, it will only make it easier for her to go. It will probably make her stop hurting when she goes. Good Luck!

Do the treat thing, a sticker chart, some fun songs playing while in the bathroom, anything that gets to "her level", not yours, so she can get through this most annoying phase for you. Wait til she's going through puberty, you'll be back on this site...
Blessings, S.

we went thru generally the same thing with my son now 14. I found a support group on the web that was very helpful. Instead of Milk of magnesia he was put on dulcolax I think it was called. We had him on medicine for 1 year. But we also had to do some behaviorally modification all very slowly. he too was afraid of the potty so we left him in diapers but we did start making him "practice" potty sitting - totaly clothed we read him a book /blew bubbles and we did it 2x a day for up 2 ten minutes. Sometimes I had to bribe him - he got a stick of gum ONLy while he was sitting on potty! Also we started making go poop in his diaper in the bathroom- because bathrooms are where we poop. eventually we made him sit on the potty in his diaper to poop- that was a huge transition! and then we started to potty training which was quick because he was now almost 4 he still asked to poop in diapers so we let him. I sent him to preschool saying he was potty trained because believe me I knew he would never poop in his underwear he was a master of holding it in (longest was 7 days!) Anyway we did dietary changes too and I also used senekot on top of the stool softener if he didn't go every other day. because the longer you wait the more it hurts. After he was weaned off the medicine I still had to watch him closely . Look up encopresis under google I sure you will find loads of information and I know how tough this can be but it will get better!

My son was having some constipation issues for about a week when we were potty training him... The doctor suggested giving him Miralax. It worked! Once he was able to let everything go, he realized he felt much better. For a couple days after he would panic a little bit before going on the toilet as well, but I just reminded him it would feel so much better to let it out. He has been great ever since. If you decide to Potty train her now, I would suggest going cold turkey... Its the best and fastest... Bye bye diapers, hello underwear... Maybe take her to the store and let her choose a potty seat she loves so it will make her more comfortable... Also, maybe give her an incentive, like little surprises if she goes potty. Good luck!

Hi K., my name is K. :) and my 2 yr old son does the same thing. He's been doing it for a year now. I have upped his fiber intake. My ped told me to use miralax, one tsp per day for a month or two, it softens the stool by pulling water fom the bowels rather than a real laxative that forces the bowels to move. SHe said once the fear of pooping is gone to wean him off the miralax. I also offer him raisins everyday, as well as fruit juices. He LOVES milk, one of the main things I was told to cut down on... I put the miralax in it to try to balance out the backing up issue. When he does the potty dance we offer him the big boy potty and most everytime he wants to sit on it. Not that he goes on each time, but it seems to make him feel more comfy. Me and my husband clap and say "woo hoo, its poopy time!, go potty buddy". We tell him a few times that if he goes poopy his belly will feel much better.I think its helped a lot, letting him know that its a good thing to poop, that he shouldn't be scared of it. He use to run around for 30 minutes crying - scared to poop, now it only takes him a few minutes, much better than it was. At least you have hope!!!

I don't think I'd want to give her the Milk of Magnesia...especially not on a long term basis. but have you tried the healthy eating habits that insure soft bowel movements?? I would concentrate on natural fiber (fruits, veggies, beans, whole grains) and cut out all processed and junk food (no crackers, gold fish, mcdonalds etc.) Good luck!

1. Fiber, Fiber, Fiber. A key to fighting constipation is to increase your fiber intake. It helps produce soft, bulky stools that are easy to expel. Beans, whole grains and cereals as wells as fresh fruits and leafy vegetables are foods that are rich in fiber. These vegetables include cabbage, brussel sprouts and carrots.

2. In fighting constipation, one must also increase fluid intake. Drink at least 8 glasses of water each day so there is enough of it to produce soft stools that is easy to eliminate.

3. Eating more fruits and vegetables also helps fight constipation. They contain substances that remove toxins and help them be flushed out of the digestive system.

4. Fighting constipation does not mean sacrificing your protein intake. The key to enjoying the benefits of proteins without constipating is by eating it with a fiber- rich food. Suffering from constipation or being prone to it does not mean you have to give protein up entirely. To keep constipation at bay, balance your protein intake with vegetables so it will not bring out your constipation problem. Proteins that stay very long in the colon may lead to cancer so eating vegetable along with them help eliminate them eventually.

5. Engaging in daily exercise is also known to relieve symptoms of constipation and to promote regular body processes including bowel movement.

6. Ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement is also a no-no in prevention of constipation. It is good to condition one's body to do bowel movement first thing in the morning to regularly eliminate body wastes and toxins. Even if you are busy, if you feel the urge to eliminate waste do so, before you have problems with constipation by habitually ignoring nature's call.

7. Maximize the marvels of papaya. Papaya is a fruit that is rich in fiber and has substances that have antioxidant properties. Papaya is an excellent source of relief from constipation. It has a rich, sweet likeable taste that provides not only relief from constipation but is also filling. It makes an excellent desert and can be eaten as it is or as a drink or shake or as an ingredient in salads. It is also known to have anticancer properties so it also protects the cells in the colon against this disease. Papaya also contains papain which is an enzyme that helps breakdown proteins (which is why it is used as a meat tenderizer in many cooking techniques.)

8. Limiting the intake of foods that are poor in fiber is also a key step in preventing constipation. During snacks, go for food that provides fiber such as cereals or wheat bread as well as fruits and vegetables. Fruit juices, especially those prepared from fresh fruits are also excellent sources of fiber that prevent constipation.

9. Go for natural foods rather than processed foods to prevent and fight constipation. This means choosing fresh vegetables and fruits rather than those that are canned or have preservatives in them. Fresh fruits and vegetables mean having all the important nutrients and fibers intact.

10. In cases where constipation had already set in, the best remedy is to take laxatives. There are a lot of over-the-counter laxatives available today but it is still best to consult to doctor before taking some. This is to know which one is the best for your case because it may depend on the cause of your constipation. Fighting constipation through the use of laxatives should also be done in moderation. Treatment with laxatives should only be done until regular bowel movement is achieved and not longer. For children, they should be also be used under the advise of a doctor and should not be used on a long- term basis.

Preventing and fighting constipation is easy enough especially if you could identify the causes of your problem. By following the above tips in fighting constipation, there is no way you should lose the battle and be deprived of a feeling of comfort that could only come from the regular exercise of one of your body' most important functions: waste elimination.

Lee Dobbins writes for http://www.colon-articles.com where you can find out just how important it is to care for your colon as well as learn more about preventing constipation.

Poor baby. I suffered from chronic constipation for many, many years, so I know how this little one feels. Two things, 2oz of prune juice a night, up it to three if you do not see results in 3 days. Also, water, water, water. Cut out ALL bananas, raisins, nuts, chocolate and cheese. Some people are very sensetive to cheese and milk. She could be constipated because of a lactose intolerance. Cut back on all milk products. Lastly, plenty of exercise. Run, run, run. Good luck, sweetie.

Sorry to hear of the problems. My son did the same thing and I was so worried. Basically, my ped said the same thing (to stop the potty training for now) and to replace his dairy with some fruit juice, etc. No milk, cheese or dairy for a while (or bananas!). It took a while, but it finally worked. Then when I didn't make potty training such an "issue" -- he started to go on his own (with the help of a few M&M's for support!). So my advice is to maybe just wait a little longer on the potty training. My son just turned 3 when that happened, so you do have a little time on your side. Good luck!

OMG!! This sounds like me 13 years ago, but it was my son. Things don't change. We went to a pediatric gastro and he said our son was a stool withholder. We changed his diet and cut down on his dairy and increased his fruit intake. He was on vegetable exlax, which has no side effects. We started on 1 tsp/day and he was taking 2 tbsp. per day before he would go. He had this hard stool problem from when he was 6 weeks old. The exlax really helped and once he realized when his poop wasn't going to hurt, everything went back to normal. Still till this day I also ask if he went to the bathroom. He just loves it....NOT!! LOL....Good luck, I hope this helps.

You have a had so many responses so I will keep mine short. My daughter just went through this...from the time she was one year old until she was two and a half. She would only go once a week!! We went through the miralax...it didn't help. We just tried to keep the fiber in her...she wouldn't do prune juice but she would drink plum juice by plum smart. That helped, but she didn't start getting better UNTIL she was potty trained. She didn't like the way it felt in her diaper!!! When she knew she could eliminate in the toilet she started going more frequently... My daughter just turned three and has been doing well since November.

Hi, K.! I know exactly what you are going through. My now 4 year old held her poop for a VERY long time. She was on mirlax on/off for almost a year!! I finally stopped it since it is still a med. They also told me to wait on potty training b/c it amy cause it to get worse. One doctor explained to me that they have stretched out their intestines SO much by holding it in, they no longer "feel" the cues to go & in then the stool becomes so large, it hurts to go. They need to "move things" along with the help of something for as long as they have been constipated so it can regain its shape & give the right cues. I give my daughter a yogurt everyday (Stonyfield Farm Organic is great), i give her a 1/2 tsp of Fibersure every day with her milk or juice & we found a GREAT book! If your child enjoys books, this may do the trick! My daughter stopped holding her stool & was potty trained in a very short time after reading "IT HURTS WHEN I POOP" by Howard Bennett MD. It really helped my daughter to see another child going through what she did & being successful in pushing poop out & on the potty!!! We also started a "poop chart" for her. Sure, this is not something you want hanging on your fridge when company comes, but she got a smiley face for every time she went & she LOVED to count all the smiles she got that day, week, month etc!!!
The book also reviews what foods are bad (highly refined, processed foods, white flour etc) & which are good (whole wheat, fruits/veggies etc) which really help too...she started eating broccoli b/c its "good for my tummy!"
I wish you the best of luck with this. I know what you are going through & i hope you both can get through this VERY soon!!!


While I have not experienced what you have described, I'm not sure my advice will help any, but I will tell you what I did when one of my children was being stubborn. I simply put my child on the toilet and made them sit there until something happened and rewarded with praise, claps, and a special yummy treat. You say that you notice the poopy dance and that is your cue to put your daughter on the toilet. Coax her with gentle loving words and lots of encouragement like, "You can do this, honey, I know you can do it. Show mommy what a big girl you are by putting that poopy in the toilet for me." Show her the treat that you intend to reward her with. I used Gerber fruit snacks. Some parents call it bribing. Call it what you want but it works! Patience on your part will promote a willingness to try on her part but be consistent by putting her on the toilet daily. Most often, if she is willing to pee, the urge to poop will follow. I used to sit on the bathroom floor and read a book to my child in training. Also, you say she is afraid of the toilet. Do you have one of those inserts that fits onto the big toilet? They really are cushy and give the feeling of security from not falling into the toilet. Potty training is frustrating, I know, but it will happen in good time.

My little sister had the same problem with her bowels, she would hold her b/m until she was in so much pain. They admitted her so that they could go in and clean out her bowels so she can start over, after they cleaned her out she started going to the bathroom but because she was so use to holding it she would still hold it because she thought it was still gonna hurt.

My daughter would be consstipated for days at a time, I took her to the gastro doctors at Neumours and now she has no problem going. I was giving her milk of magnesia everyday but I did not have a set amount, I would start her off with at least 2-3 tsp but if she did not have a b/m 24 after I would give her more. Milk of magnesia is not habit forming so their bowels are not being trained or forced like they would be if your were giving them a laxative.

I strongly suggest you take her to neumours they have very caring and helpful doctors. They have helped use so much with our kids.

I hope things turn around for your little one. Be Blessed

I made it a game for my kids to fart on the potty. I told them they had to fart 3 times, then they could get up. Usually they would end up pooping. Kids seem to think farting is hysterical, so it might work for your munchkin!

Please keep assuring her its ok and work wit her, my son is 18 now and he still waits until the last minute to go. He use to run behind the sofa as a toddler and hide.

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