15 answers

My 16 Month Old Is Afraid to Poop!

Hello Mamas! Has anyone ever had a situation where their child was afraid to poop? I started my child on vitamin D milk when she was 12 months old. It made her severely constipated. The doctor told us to use Miralax for the next 6 months or so, and adjust the dosage as needed.......I really don't think this is the answer to her problems! My daughter is on soy milk, and no longer constipated, but every time she gets the urge to poop she cries, and screams, and holds her legs stiff as a board while squeezing her butt cheeks together. I think its more a fear of pain, than the actual pain. Her poop comes out solid, but soft enough it shouldn't hurt. I have taken her in to two doctors....should I tak eher to a specialist?? Any help you can provide would be appreciated! Thank you all!!

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My daughter did the same thing at the age up till 3 years old!! No she is 4 I still have to go in with her and hold her hand awhile she talks it thru wtih me. Yea she use to hold it as long as she could sometimes up to 7 days!!! I know how you feel. When she is in the process try talking to herand let her know that its ok, everyone does it. Later I found that She like when I rub her back.

I hope things get better.

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Our Dr told us to use Simply Apple juice, 1 glass and it really works. It's cloudy and you have to shake it to mix the stuff off the bottom of the bottle. Doesn't make it too loose but makes it move but still in control. Usually work it about 20 minutes. Our Dr used it when she was pregnant and you could mix it with other juice if y'all don't like the taste (reminds me of watery applesauce). Hope this helps!

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I would naturally soften her poop with lots of fruits and veggies until the fear passes. Good luck!

Hi K., put your baby back on Miralax. It is great for what she's going through. She can't tell you how she feels. My daughter went through the same experience and Miralax put her at ease both mentally & physically. This was 3 years ago and she's great now.

My daughter did the same thing at the age up till 3 years old!! No she is 4 I still have to go in with her and hold her hand awhile she talks it thru wtih me. Yea she use to hold it as long as she could sometimes up to 7 days!!! I know how you feel. When she is in the process try talking to herand let her know that its ok, everyone does it. Later I found that She like when I rub her back.

I hope things get better.

I disagree about the Miralax. It helps the problem by making the poop softer,so there is no pain which in turn helps solve the issue. My son went through this twice. It was caused by constipation. I used the Miralax as the doctor said and he tried to hold it , but eventually he had to go. We had several accidents, but after a few weeks, things went back to normal, once he realized it wouldn't hurt to poop anymore. Good luck.

I've been through this with my daughter, and what the doctor said is what fixed her issues.
He has probably learned to be scared because of a painful poop. He then probably started to hold it in, which stretched out his rectum. Poop should not be stored in the rectum, which is where the Mirlax comes into play. Keep his poop soft enough that he cannot hold it in, so over the next 6 months his rectum will shrink back down to normal size and stop storing the poop. By then, he will no longer be afraid of pooping. Something that comforted me is to know that Miralax does not absorb into your body, what goes in, all comes out. It is kinda like water absorbing plastic, and the molecules are too large for the body to absorb. Instead of his body sucking all the water out of his poop while in his system (which happens to make poop really dry and constipates) all the water stays in the Miralax to keep poop soft. It is important to keep his poop the consistency of soft serve ice cream. Feel free to ask me any questions, as we have absolutely been through this! (10+ days of my daughter not pooping...over and over and over again...)

Hi, K.. This is a very common problem in children your daughter's age, and from what I understand, even more common in girls. I had three boys, none of which had this problem, but my daughter experienced exactly what your daughter seems to be going through. I would strongly suggest sticking with the Miralax. Because you have seen two pediatricians, I assume they have ruled out any digestive or developmental issues, and as your pediatrician has probably told you, Miralax is not like a true laxative, and therefore is completely safe in that your daughter's body will not become dependent on it with continued use. It will, however, prevent her from being able to hold it in. With the correct dosage, she should be able to go comfortably, but at the same time, not be able to hold it in either. This is most important in these months prior to and leading up to potty training. On the other hand, if she continues to hold it in, you/she will experience continued problems and difficulties throughout potty training, as well. I hope this helps, and good luck!!! :-)

Oh this was my world for about a year... my daughter started doing this at 2 and right before age 3 we finally stopped the Miralax and she started going on the potty. I HATED the Miralax too for exactly the same reason - it's not addressing the problem, only aggravating the control issue. It is a control issue. Period. I don't know why they fixate on this, and it is so frustrating!

We even had to visit the ER after she didn't go for 10 days (and was obviously in pain) and while in the waiting room she went...now dubbed the $150 poop.

So, we talked about it constantly with her. Now, we still talk about pooping and size and when did you go, etc. Also, we totally removed all cheese, milk, and fried foods from her diet. It helped that Dad was diagnosed with diverticulitis about the same time, so we really "fiber'ed" up.

We only used about 1/2 tsp with my daughter (the ped recommended 1 tsp). I felt that if we could get her to not hurt when she went, but not lose control, it would be better, and it was. Really, it was a big fight for awhile. I'd catch her clenching over behind the couch and pick her up and run into the bathroom and sit her on the potty. She'd cry, I'd cry. But it taught her that going was OK and that the potty was a safe place where she had privacy. Also, I did NOT make a big deal about it with cheering, etc. as this tended to aggravate the control issue. I'd just calmly go in there and wipe her and say "good job, does your tummy feel better?" and things would go back to normal.

I wish I could offer you more, but you certainly have my moral support! At least I can say that it is a phase, and "this too shall pass". Now, she's totally cool about it and will even go at the grocery store.


My daugther has the same problem since she was about 2. She used to cried every time she's pooping and it hurts her. We have been giving her miralax (about 3/4 teaspoon few times a week with milk and also gummy fiber, these helps her a lot.

Since there seems to be no physical problem with your child and her stool appears normal, this sounds like an emotional problem. She may be reacting to her previous fears of pain and worried that the pain will return. You can try to comfort her and let her know that it is ok and normal to poop. When she has a successful bm then praise her and reiterate that it felt ok and that now she feels better because she pooped. It may take a few weeks or longer for her to understand that but your persistance should pay off. If she continues this behavior, then your pediatrician can recommend a child counselor or psychologist that may be able to help. Good luck!

We've been going through this for several months. My nephew has been on miralax for about 5 years STRAIGHT. He still has problems. Because of that I really didn't want to try it. I asked her doctor and they said not to use it. SO we make sure she drinks white grape juice and water every day and eats very little cheese. I try to give her as much fruit as she will eat and if she starts holding we give her some prune juice mixed in the white grape juice and some graham crackers for a few days. After a few days of that she CAN'T hold it. We also put "medicine" on her and she will usually go. It's just Balmex or Aveeno diaper rash cream, but it helps her. Good luck! It's awful to see your baby in pain.

A friend of mine had this problem with her son. Nothing was wrong with the child but for some reason he would hide and strain every muscle he had to keep from going to the bathroom.
She didn't want to use laxative because she felt that it was totally unnecessary. So she made a game of going to the toilet, and tried to make it exciting to put something in the potty with a reward for the accomplishment. She tried to make him realize that it was very special to get the waste from his body so he would be comfortable and happy with the natural process. It only took a few days and he was very excited to make the deposit for her. Eventually the material rewards were replaced with hugs and words.

K., I know how frustrated you are, with both seeing your baby in pain and not knowing how to fix it. My daughter went through this same thing at the age of 9. We used Miralax for several months and once she found it would not hurt any longer, she was cured. If she ever gets constipated, a few days on the Miralax fixes everything. I know there are many on here that don't agree with that as a fix but it made things so much easier in our home.

Best of luck!


It's so very TOUGH to see your child in pain, isn't it? I know. My daughter went through this too about the same age, and this phase will pass in time.

But something I read on the subject really helped us - maybe you could consider it too (apart from all the meds). I read that if people have their feet flat on a surface when sitting to poop, it helps the muscles involved to relax enough to push more easily. I had to stack two step stools beneath my daughter's feet while on the big potty to achieve this, but with that foot support she wasn't as afraid to push at all and we got over this "hump."

Just sharing something that helped us. :-)

Hi there, I just stumbled upon your post from a couple years ago. I am going through a problem now with my 17 month old son. He is on miralax and he holds his poop in. We change his diaper every half hour or so because he leaks from holding. I am so stressed out and am at a complete loss at what to do to help him. I also feel badly that my daycare provider has to deal with it too. Do you have any advice on what might help? The doctors arent giving me too much info.

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