30 answers

Frequent Bowl Movements in My 3 Year Old Son.

For the past year and a half me and my husband have been desperately trying to find a answer to this problem of what seems to be a normal healty boy. Our son, which is 3, has very small amounts of either very soft stools or diareha. He can go up from 10 to the most extreme,20, times a day. Its probably a ounce amount at most, and lately seems that he goes by the hour. It is a constant battle on me as a mother and husband. We've been to a physician several times and keep being told its constipation, and give him laxatives. Let me say we definately don't give him laxatives. I now have to wash him off everytime in the shower, because he goes constantly and too many changing with wipeing makes his rash worst and causes him to scream at the top of his lungs. Although it's slowly looking better it still causes him to scream. I just don't want him to suffer so much anymore. I feel helpless. We have also tried to potty train numerous times, but at this point, it seems like a disorder he cannot control, or some other serious condition. There is no matching information on this issue, as many places that we've searched. We really hope you can help. There are no more answers we can come up with, and it's taking it's toll on my entire family. Please help!!!!!!!!
J. Goldner-Bales

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It sounds like he definitely needs to be evaluated for food allergies and intolerances...and probably by a gastroenterologist. Something isn't right with the way he is processing food. It might me normal for HIM, but seems like a tough thing to live with.

2 moms found this helpful

Has he been tested for food allergies? My son had a similar experience and he ended up being gluten intolerant. Milk intolerance can also case frequent blow movements.

2 moms found this helpful

I would take him to an allergist and a digestive specialist. He could likely be allergic to some kind of food he is eating or he could have a problem with digestion. Either way, you need a new pediatrician!

He sounds like my grandson when he was eating wheat. Is he losing weight?

K. Voigtsberger

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reading this made me feel like it was an episode of Mystery Diagnosis! Your little boy needs more testing. I would find a specialist in tummy issues or at least another pediatrician. This poor boy shouldnt have to suffer and his doctor shouldnt have blown it off as constipation.

3 moms found this helpful

HI J.,

Avoid laxatives but get some fiber into his diet. Fiber is not harsh but will balance anything that is going on in the digestive system. Mikelle's suggestion of acidophilus is good as well. Those in combination should get everything under control. A normal bowel routine is a firm movement about one hour after EVERY meal. A week or two of fiber and acidophilus, depending on how irritated he is, should get him to normal.

God bless,


2 moms found this helpful

Has he been tested for food allergies? My son had a similar experience and he ended up being gluten intolerant. Milk intolerance can also case frequent blow movements.

2 moms found this helpful

It sounds like he definitely needs to be evaluated for food allergies and intolerances...and probably by a gastroenterologist. Something isn't right with the way he is processing food. It might me normal for HIM, but seems like a tough thing to live with.

2 moms found this helpful

Have you tried acidophilus bifidus in powdered form? We prescribe it all the time in our office. Try Metagenics brand. Ultra Flora DF. It puts the good bacteria back in the gut, to put his poop in a group, but does not cause constipation. It improves the health of the intestines. So worth a try! You can have your pharmacist order it for you.

2 moms found this helpful

I can understand not wanting to give laxatives to a child, BUT if the DR has advised that he is constipated and he recommends laxatives I can not understand why you don't listen. Sounds like he has impacted stools, which is a result of extended constipation, and the small amounts of liquid stool is a result of leakage around the impaction. It is not going to cure itself, and laxatives are a simpler solution right now. If it is not resolved soon and through that method, it can lead to having to manually remove, (which does not sound like any fun at all) or sugery. He is probably still screaming everytime because he is in pain and needs to evacuate.... PLEASE listen to your DR - I have known a couple of people to go through this, and it can cause a lot more serious issues, because they are scared of the pain of going because it has gone on too long.

1 mom found this helpful

I am revising my answer. I had forgotten about the possibility of a blockage and small amount of loose stool that can go by it. My son went through that as well. He was chronically constipated, and did experience what you described. I would definitely try the laxatives!! If it gets better after the laxatives and then gets worse again, I would then pursue the issue to find out if there is an underlying reason he is getting constipated, as there was for my son. My son has hypothyroidism, which was undiagnosed at the time, and was causing his constipation issues, along with other symptoms. So, I agree with the others who have suggested to try the laxatives. The resolution to this issue may be as simple as that! Also, constipation/ blockage/ stool can be seen on a basic Xray, so if you'd like proof that it truly is constipation, just ask the Dr. to do an Xray, and tell him it would help you to feel more comfortable with the diagnosis and then you will try the laxatives. On the flip side, it might also show the Dr. that it's not constipation and that other tests are needed. Either way, it will give you and the Dr. more definitive proof as to what is going on with your son and what the next steps should be.

Maybe you could try taking dairy out of his diet for a while and see if anything changes.

I hope you are also using Desitin or something for the rash.


browse this entire website..sign up for her newsletters.....use what you can and ignore the rest (I do not advocate the hypnosis stuff in any shape form or fashion!!)...information is power to make good decisions..and this website offers tons of information about constipation and diarrhea...causes and natural ways of treatment..the acacia is great!...clear and tasteless!..can add to food or juice and he'll never know it's there!...and it works!!!...I highly recommend the peppermint capsules/teas....

another very helpful website and newsletters is:


no pills or potions... just food combinations that really work ....just have to stick with it or symptoms return....but the results are great...and worth the effort!!!!

I pray you find the pathway to health for your baby's dilemma!...

My sister fought with this for years as you have her son is 3. "He will be fine is constipated give him some laxatives blah blah blah. She finally to him to a pediatric GI and they did a colonosopy, She had to fight for it and they didn't want to do it because it means putting them under at that age but what they found was that his Colon instead of being pink, smooth and healthy looked like sand paper. I don't know what the diagnosis is or was but it was no longer all in her head, this wasn't because of anything she was or wasn't doing, his colon was not working. They told her to use Milk of milk of magnesia and he has been able to have consistent regular bowl movements with its use for the past 6 months.

Research the possibility of Esnophillic Esophagitis (type of allergic reaction in the gut). It is definitely possible to have these problems if your child is severely constipated which can be caused by allergies. If there is a big blockage in the colon that isn't moving the only way to get any emptying is to have these short "leaks" of softer stool around the blockage -- that is what you are seeing --there has to be an underlying problem and YOU have to encourage the doctors to find and treat it. Get him on probiotics as soon as possible and definitely have him tested for allergies (the simplest way is scratch test) and possibly scope by a GI doc. A simple x-ray may show the blockage at this point...

Have you tried the laxatives or stool softeners at all? He might have a condition called encopresis. This is a form of constipation that causes a hard ball of stool to form in the rectum. This hard ball cannot pass without help (stool softeners come into play here) BUT small amount of diarrhea or very loose stool will bypass this ball, leading to frequent bowel movements.
It is very common in children and I am surprised if you indeed did not heed your pediatricians recommendation at all (even tried it).

Now if you have tried it and there is no resolution (and many children need to be on laxatives for a long time to completely resolve it) I would say that you should see a pediatric internist (internal medicine doctor). They might want to do a CAT scan or MRI or even a colonoscopy to see what's up.
Good luck!

Hi J.!

You've already gotten LOTS of great advice about checking for food allergies, improving the health of his intestinal tract with bifidus acidophilus, more fiber, prune juice, etc...I just want to add that it is very, Very, VERY important to significantly increase water intake (or diluted prune or raw, organic apple juice) with the increase in fiber because a significant fiber increase without a matching liquid increase will only compound constipation problems.

Some other natural things you can try: adding blackstrap molasses to meals (about 1/2 tsp. or so), adding flax oil (2 tsp. a day) to meals, adding flax seed meal (1 Tbsp. a day) to meals, and making smoothies (can add any of the previous to a smoothie). Foods with natural laxative effects: apricots, prunes, plums, pears and peaches. Fruits are great fiber additives to the diet because they also have a good water content too. I got this helpful info from this pediatrician's website: http://www.askdrsears.com/html/8/T081100.asp

It is stressful seeing your child distressed with constipation. I do hope it clears up soon.

God's Grace to you,

Lisa :)

He could have a food allergy....for instance, Elizabeth on The View has Celiacs (sp?) and had stomach issues like this. Worth checking.

I think I would find another pediatrican and demand a referral for a gastroenterolgist and an allergist to determine what is going on. He has been miserable long enough, so if you do end up going back to the same doctor, ask him how he would feel if he went #2 10 to 20 times a day! I would be sitting in someones office on monday morning being the squeekiest wheel I could, and let them know that you have had enough!

Poor little guy, it is infuriating when doctors ignore issues that are miserable.


Testing for food allergies (IgE) and food sensitivites (IgG) may be helpful. It is possible to have constipation and diarrhea at the same time as others have mentioned. It also is possible your child has yeast or bacteria which can cause either constipation or diarrhea. Great Plains and Metametrix have an Organic Acid Test (urine) or Doctor's Data, Genova or Metametrix have stool tests which would be very helpful. You can do a LabCorp/Quest OAT or stool test but those never seem to be very helpful

I have a 5-year-old and we have been dealing with chronic constipation most of her life. Her diet is awesome including all veggies, raisins, high-fiber cereals, etc. Everything that should work doesn't. It ever started affecting the number of times she urinated during the day, she felt like she needed to go more than she could. Her pedi told me to give her Miralax everyday which will clear out any blockage, but it wasn't anything I wanted to do everyday. I found me a urologist to take her to and she was so helpful. She agreed he Miralax was to harsh for everday. She suggested Benefiber and Fleet has a new product out called Fiber Gummies. We now use Benefiber and these gummies daily and then Miralax as needed if she gets constipated. Sometimes even if they are going, they are not able to empty out. It would confuse me when she had loose stools, but she explained that was just the small amount that was getting around the blockage. This has helped tremendously. At first I felt bad giving something to her everyday, but it is all extra fiber. There are also other products high on fiber that you can look for. I'm hoping to get her system back on tract and hopefully start backing off of everything and see how she does. But it is horrible for the little ones to be constipated. So if needed I will continue to help her out and find different ways to make sure she is getting the right amount of fiber. I know it is frustrating!! Good Luck!!

Ya know I am so tired of reading about all these kids with tummy troubles. I feel for you! It's unbelievable to me that doctors pass this off as nothing. I don't know if you are familiar with homeopathy.....(classical homeopathy). There are two doc is Dallas. Dr. Dan Cook (takes a long time to get into) ###-###-####. or Dr. Alex Bekker on Mockingbird. Both are medical docs but practice Homeopathy. I cannot begin to tell you how my family has benefited from Homeopathy. It has been around for centuries.

Have you tried increasing his banana and apple intake. Do not give other fruits or fruit juices as they cause more frequent and loose stool. Apples and Bananas are natural binding foods. Not sure what you have tried so far. My son goes 5 times a day and I usually give him bananas for a few days to bind him up again until he is down to 2-3 times a day then I back off the bananas so he doesn't get painful constipation. good luck

My son did the same thing around age 2 1/2. I finally took him in to see his pediatrician and here's what we were told. He has encoprisis. (google it). Basically it is where the poop kinda' gets stuck to the walls of the intestine (or whatever it is) and all that passes through is water and what looks like diaherrea. So we give him a weekly dose of Miralax and it cleans him out and we have not had this problem anymore (and he's almost 4). It's worth a shot --- good luck!

Yes-- ask about encopresis, that is exactly what I thought when I read this. My friends little boy had it and a special dosage of laxitives helped him get over it.

Have you considered seeing a chiropractor? That might sound a little odd but it might be possible that there is a small nerve pinching in the area of his spine that contols bowel movements. The Maximized Health group focuses on prevention and are awesome! By the way, DO NOT listen to the fear driven rsponse below regarding surgery. Natural health solutions should be exhuausted including a proper diet including fiber from natiral whole foods.

Please, please, please ask your doctor to order a blood test in order to run a celiac panel. (read about celiac disease online) If it comes back positive, they'll want to do an endoscopy. We went through the same horrors, and our daughter was almost 5 before she was diagnosed. The diagnosis was devestating, and the transition to a gluten free diet difficult, but now she is so happy and healthy. Left untreated, this condition causes serious health risk. Removing gluten from the diet reverses alll negative effects. Please let me know if you have any questions. ____@____.com

Some friends have a little girl (6 years old now) who has to have prune juice in her milk to help her poop. She has been doing this since she was very small. Try getting some prune juice at the store (see if you can find the small cans instead of the large bottle, in case it doesn't work) and mixing it with some milk. If he is constipated, it should help within a day or so.

I couldn't tell from your post whether you tried following the doctor's advice about laxatives. I would give it a try, since your son seems to have a real problem, he may know something you don't.
Secondly, have you tried looking at possible food sensitivities? Something must be bothering him and the easy place to start is with what he eats.
Good luck!

I would take him to an allergist and a digestive specialist. He could likely be allergic to some kind of food he is eating or he could have a problem with digestion. Either way, you need a new pediatrician!

He sounds like my grandson when he was eating wheat. Is he losing weight?

K. Voigtsberger

I would have him checked for an allergy to gluten(celiac's disease). I would definitely have him put on a diet of basic meats/veggies/fruits/nuts. Weed out any foods that are over processed and stick to water or watered down fruit juice. Also, check with your doc about the possibility of him having IBS(irritable bowel syndrome). Celiac's and IBS are very painful, but can be very well managed with proper medication and a strict diet of nutritious foods. Good luck to you and your family!

I was shocked to discover that my son had a peanut allergy that was causing his GI issues. What you describe sounds very similar to where we were when he was a toddler. I pushed for allergy testing (the RAST blood test) only because my daughter had an egg allergy that was not discovered until she was four. My son had similar eczema issues and had not been able to transition to cow's milk just like his sister. When we removed peanuts from his diet he had normal bowel movements for the first time in his life.

In 8 years of dealing with food intolerance issues, I have found that the medical community has not been much help. And my dh is a physician! While he is much more willing to look at food links now after two children with food sensitivities, food allergy as a GI response is just not something that has been considered a true allergy in medicine.

Even though my son has elevated levels on his RAST test, the allergist did a skin test and told us he does not have a peanut allergy since he did not have a response to peanut on the skin test. It is so frustrating to have a child that has explosive diarrhea if he eats peanuts, but to be blown off by the allergist.

There is still something in is diet that causes GI issues and I haven't yet figured out exactly what it is. I believe it to be soy (which is in EVERYTHING!!) but am also considering a gluten or wheat free trial. We repeated his RAST about 2 years later and most all of the foods are getting worse and yet again, allergist says no big deal???

Quite frustrating when you are the mom dealing with the poor child with an upset tummy and you can't get help from your pediatrician or allergist!! I have been looking into the GAPS diet (google will bring up lots of info) and have been considering going this route to see if we can finally clear up the GI and skin issues in our home.

I truly believe that the food (specifically processed) has much more impact on our health that we realize! Since we have converted to a whole foods diet and eliminated almost all processed food, our family has been much healthier. I never imagined I would be grinding my own wheat to make bread and driving 30 minutes to buy non-pasteurized milk but the benefits have been worth every bit of effort.

We just went through the same thing with my daughter. She had to endure all sorts of awful tests, then I switched pediatricians. The 2nd pediatrician ordered an xray which showed she was full of poop. I had a really hard time believing this "full of poop" diagnosis because she seemed to be going to the bathroom ALL the time. Now she has been on Miralax (which draws water into the intestines) for four days, and the stomach pains are gone. No more screaming and moaning thank goodness and no more rash from going to the bathroom so frequently. Her bowel movements are not back to normal yet, but I was informed that normalcy would take time because her intestines need to heal. She is also taking Florastor for kids (we get it from behind the counter at Walgreens pharmacy) and have cut back her cheese consumption considerably. She is a recovering cheeseaholic.
I hope your son's digestive issues are resolved soon. Get an xray if you are skeptical like I was. Hope your son feels better soon.

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