34 answers

My 3 Year Old Is Constipated

Hi there,
I have a problem that I need help with. I have a 3 year old girl who has been potty trained, but is having trouble going potty for #2. She states that she holds it in because it hurts. I give her prune juice every morning and also she loves to eat dried prunes, but is doesn't seem to help her, she is constatnly afraid that it will hurt. I have explained to her that she needs to let it out, but no success yet.
Does anybody have any suggestions? I would truly appreciate it.
Thanks in advance.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you so much to everyone that responded.
I was so happy yesterday when my little girl cried mommy from the bathroom and had passed two balls of BM. I know she still has some inside, but at least it's an improvement. I did tell her that if she kept it in I would have to take her to the doctor and they would put a huge needle in her little butt, also that she could not watch anymore TV if she held it in. Seemed to work yesterday :)
I'll try some miralax and other suggestions.
Thanks again and god bless.

Featured Answers

The step stool is a good idea--it is hard to relax for a a child hanging onto the big toilet--I had one for my kids when they were little. Probiotics are necessary for most people, and look into food sensitivites, dairy foods and gluten foods are a big cause of constipation or IBS that is often overlooked. I remember when I was pregnant with my oldest daughter and had increased my use of dairy thinking I needed it--I was severely constipated much of the time, once I ate a whole jar of prunes and drank 2 jars of prune juice which did not do anything except make me more bloated! Later when I learned about dairy allergies I quit dairy and most of the problems went away and later quit all gluten containing foods and no more bowel problems!

Hi M.,
Two pieces of advice given to family members by doctors are: put mineral oil in juice (whatever juice is a favorite) it's supposed to help #2 slide right out. The other is a children's laxative. Good luck!
H.

My 3 year old son was also constipated. The doctor ordered an x-ray and saw that he was backed up. He complained a lot of belly aches. She told us to add some Miralax to his juice in the morning. He doesn't notice since it's only about a teaspoon that we give him and drinks his apple juice with no problem. Since we started, his stools have been easier to pass and we have gotten no complaints about a tummy ache. By the way, Miralax used to be a prescription, but now it is over the counter. I hope this helps. It is not fun to see a little one in pain.

More Answers

She might have an anal fissure. I'd take her to the doctor to see. If she does, acidophilus helps. She could eat yogurt to get that. Good luck.

My 3 year old son was also constipated. The doctor ordered an x-ray and saw that he was backed up. He complained a lot of belly aches. She told us to add some Miralax to his juice in the morning. He doesn't notice since it's only about a teaspoon that we give him and drinks his apple juice with no problem. Since we started, his stools have been easier to pass and we have gotten no complaints about a tummy ache. By the way, Miralax used to be a prescription, but now it is over the counter. I hope this helps. It is not fun to see a little one in pain.

This does seem very common my son had it as well when he was this age until he was 4. Our Dr perscribed Metamucill which worked ok but then I put him on activa I got the vanilla flavored and put it in his sippy cup and put water in to fill it up shake it up and give him a "milkshake" every morning after a few days he has been regular ever since he is almost 5 and we still do this every day. I have since swithced to the Meijer brand which is probiotic and he always asks for his milkshake. I am praying that his younger brother does not have this issue. Best of luck.

dear M.,

hi. i have a now 5 yr old grandson, who, at the time as a young toddler, had the very same problem. it was on-going, and caused alot of problems. my son for some reason started giving him soy milk. it was like magic! within a few days to a week, my grandson started going on his own, daily! they tried a couple times putting him back on regular 2% milk, and had bad consequences...back to constipation and not wanting to go. you might give it a try! it can't hurt anything, and if it worked, it would be well worth it for everyone involved. oh, my grandson's FAVORITE flavor is vanilla, and very vanilla!! he LOVES it!! LOL they put it on his cereal and everything!

best of luck with all,

C.

M.,
Have you ever checked out www.askdrsears.com? He has an excellent A-Z index and under "C" he gives great suggestions about constipation. I had to look it up because my 10 month old was getting constipated! One of the great suggestions he gave was mixing flax seed oil into foods or drinks. Its a good source of omega 3 fatty acids, unlike mineral oil which doesn't, but has the same effect as mineral oil. I have been mixing it in with my son's yogurt in the mornings. It really doesn't have a taste. And, the probiotics might help (yogurt).

Two Fiber Gummies a day. My son was having a horrible time going poop and once we started the Gummi bear regimen it cleared up in a couple of days. Yesterday he went poop and then started yelling my name. When I got to the bathroom he said "Look mommy, it doesn't hurt anymore" It works.

My pediatrician recommended Miralax. My son, who is 18 months now, sometimes has problems as well. He uses the clear powdered form that has no flavor and I put it in with his drinks. You would probably need to check with your child's pediatrician or the pharmacist to make sure that you get the correct dosage. It doesn't make it runny it just makes it softer so that it will come out easier. He is normally a very content kid but when he is constipated, not so much. He is much more himself since we started using the Miralax to help him out. :o) Hope it helps.

On top of the prune juice give her oatmeal. The type of oatmeal I used for my son when he had this problem was weight cotrol oatmeal made by Quaker. It has 6g of fiber in each package. When you go shopping look for high fiber foods, and drinks which should help after a little bit of time. Good luck.

D.

I am 31 and have been married for almost 12 yrs. My husband and I have 3 boys ages 10,7, and 4.

Hey M.! I hope your daughter is feeling better. If my daughter (just turned one) gets a little backed up, I give her mandarin oranges, and it usually does the trick. She also gets a little bit of diluted juice each day and plenty of fruit. Stay away from cheese, bananas, applesauce, things like that until she gets back on track. Good luck!

My 4 year old son has had problems on & off with constipation since he was 2, and I use Miralax or Gycolax (they are the same) for him, it works great! You can get it at Walmart pharmacy. I would call your daughters dr to get the correct dosage for her, I always give my son about a 1/3 of the cap. I hope this helps, I know how painful it is for a little one!

If it's hurting she's most likely impacted, and that does hurt to get out. When they stop themselves from going the body reabsorbs the water and it becomes very hard. My son pretty much stopped himself from having bms at the same age because the smell bothered him (he has sensory issues), and I think the sensations of going did too. Our doctor said to give him metamucil at first, which wasn't strong enough. Then we switched to Senakot, at the maximum dosage for his age. After about 5 days at maximum dosage, he couldn't stop himself from going. He stayed on the Senakot at full dosage for several months, and then it was gradually reduced until he didn't need it anymore. In our case too, he'd have a lavender perfume solid to hold by his nose when he went. If your daughter likes the smell get one of the solids to open just when she's in there...the smell is very calming and can help them relax to let it out.

i have the opossite problem and i have noticed with my son orange juice and apple juice make it worse. this also happens in my friends child . when ever they drink it. they have liquid poop

Hi M.,
Two pieces of advice given to family members by doctors are: put mineral oil in juice (whatever juice is a favorite) it's supposed to help #2 slide right out. The other is a children's laxative. Good luck!
H.

I really feel for her. She may be magnesium deficient. Magnesium will not do her any harm - it will make her go #2 easier. You can buy it in drink form which tastes pretty good too at the health food store.

I hope this helps.

This is so common - my nieces are on Miralax for consitpation, but that can be very nasty despite what doctors say, so you would want to avoid that as much as possible.

You can try magnesium (in citrate form) and vitamin C supplements.

For mangesium, you can give her an epsom salt bath. Start at about 1/4 cup in a tub of water up to her belly button and let her soak with no soap for at least 20 min. You can gradually increase it to 1 cup.

Vitamin C is easy - you can buy drops or make sure she gets plenty in her diet - fresh fruits and veggies are better. No canned fruits/veggies for vitamin sources.

My nieces also take Yummi Bears Fiber Supplement.
http://www.vitacost.com/Hero-Nutritionals-Yummi-Bears-Fib...

They're very tastey that they beg for them!

Probiotics are good, but make sure it's a good quality like Culturelle. You can sprinkle it into warm or cool foods. Start at 1/4 or 1/2 capsule and gradually increase to avoid gas, bloating, and diarrhea. You can also have her eat yogurt, but dairy foods could be constipating.

Speaking of constipating foods, avoid dairy (especially cheese) and rice. Bananas and apples tend to be constipating too, so you would want to see if they affect your daughter.

Good luck! Feel free to contact me if you have any questions!

Have you tried Miralax? It has worked wonders for our 2 year old daughter that had constipation problems. She's take a half a capful a day in liquid, and it keeps her regular without the inconsistency of prunes.

The doctor recommended it, and I was resistant. However, a friend told me that her son used it with great success. So we tried it, and it's working wonders!
M.

M., I know how hard this is. The first problem is the bm that is still inside may be quite hard. All the fiber and juice will not make it soft. You would be wise to use a supository to get things moving. Then you can do the fiber or what has always helped my kids, kiwi. My oldest daughter struggles with this problem still and she is 17. The kiwi doesn't always work for her so she uses flax seed. I have used a powder that you get from the health food store and add it to apple sauce. I told my mil and now she uses i too. She uses the seeds and puts it on top of toast with jelly.
Remember to keep and eye on this while it is being resolved to as to not start with too loose of stool.
Hope this helps.
T.

My oldest went through this early on. She would do this spazing thing and eventually we took video of it and took it to a specialist who told us it was because she was holding in her poo...for fear of pain (it only takes one painful bowel movement for kids to freak out and hold it). Anyway, a couple spoonfuls of mineral oil a couple times a day for a week or two did the trick. Now with my son we had to use suppositories because what was in there was really hard. I'd definitely get suppositories ASAP and use them before it gets too compacted in there...and then start a regimen of some sort to keep things soft and flowing.

Prunes and prune juice are great! Make sure to reduce the amount of apples/applesauce and bananas. They can contribute to constipation. Also encourage pears and/or grapes (things that have less potassium).

If nothing else works, slip a little karo syrup in her milk or something. That's supposed to act as a softener.

Good luck!

Usually prune juice is not enough, nor is apple juice solely enough. You don't want her to hold it too long because then, yes it's going to hurt when she goes because it's going to be so hard and big. Sorry to be so graphic, but it's the truth. Of course getting a 3 yo to increase fiber is pretty hard to do as well, they're picky enough as it is. You can always use Miralax, it's over the counter. It is totally safe, not a laxative, it just helps draw the water from the intestines and bowel to help soften it. My kids were very premature and had gut problems and a pediatric GI specialist put them on it before it was over the counter and said they could use it forever. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Goodluck

Have her checked out by a physician. Then, if all is OK, ignore her statements that it hurts. She is using it as an excuse if there is nothing wrong. Kids don't want to give up play time to go potty. Try to catch her and make her sit on potty when she has to go.

Another tip, a little girl I know (also 3) saw one of those little step stools at Target and told her mom "this is just what I need" her mom asked for what? and she said "to poop!" When her mom questioned her further, she said she couldn't poop if her feet couldn't touch the ground. Cute! Her mom bought the stool and it worked!

Fiber and water won't help if she's impacted. Try Miralax for a few days and see if that helps. If not, a square or two of ex-lax will probably do the trick. If she continues to not go it can develop into encopresis very quickly and trust me, you do not want that to happen!

Once you know she's no longer impacted then pile on the fiber. My son loves Fiber One bars and Fiber One yogurt (tastes/texture is just like normal yogurt). Raisins are great, too. You also have to control the foods that contribute to constipation.... milk, cheese, yogurt (fiber one yogurt is an exception), etc. Mac & cheese is the absolute worse thing to feed a child who is prone to constipation. You probably don't have to cut out dairy completely, but try cutting it down to 1 or 2 servings (total dairy) per day. Also avoid apple juice and applesauce -- both of which contribute to constipation. A whole apple (with peel) is good, though. Alot of people think apple juice is good for constipation but it usually makes it worse in most people.

Good luck... if she withholds for more than a week get to a pediatric gastroentologist (yeah, can't spell) for an evaluation. She may need an x-ray to make sure she's no longer impacted. And yes, a child can poop daily and still be severely impacted because only a little bit is coming out compared to what's inside. Only way to tell is by x-ray and sometimes a really experienced doc can tell by feel but that's not very accurate. Good luck!

Applejuice applejuice applejuice.. ALWAYS works for my boys!

My 4 yr. old grandson keeps getting constipated and my daughter gives him a half to a teaspoon of mineral oil and he does pretty good with it. He was also holding his and some times cry from his belly hurting but wouldn't go till he gets a little mineral oil. You can also getmedicine from doctor for this.Best of luck. Just keep giving her juices and fruit.

It is really going to hurt bad if she gets impacted. Give her a enema or the like, stool softners work well and so do suppositories.The longer BM stays in your body the more apt it is to just make you sick.If none of that works Get a bottle of stuff they sell to clean you out before surgery and give very small doses, it comes in lemon lime and kind of tastes like 7 up.Other than that I would get her to a Dr. if it doesn't work.

LOTS Of fluids, PLENTY of exercise, PLENTY of fiber. If these don't work, try massaging her heels. The nerve endings of the bowels are there. I did this numerous times with Abbie. I usually gave her lemon to eat, which she's LOVED since she was VERY little. Lemon helps to contracts the bowels and is a cleanser. I followed this with water, of course to protect the enamel of her teeth, and then massaged her heels. It works! Works for adults AND kids! Back to the basics!

I am not sure what prunes do for you. I thought they had the opposite affect, but have you tried apple juice? Apple juice is almost always a surefire way to get it going.

The step stool is a good idea--it is hard to relax for a a child hanging onto the big toilet--I had one for my kids when they were little. Probiotics are necessary for most people, and look into food sensitivites, dairy foods and gluten foods are a big cause of constipation or IBS that is often overlooked. I remember when I was pregnant with my oldest daughter and had increased my use of dairy thinking I needed it--I was severely constipated much of the time, once I ate a whole jar of prunes and drank 2 jars of prune juice which did not do anything except make me more bloated! Later when I learned about dairy allergies I quit dairy and most of the problems went away and later quit all gluten containing foods and no more bowel problems!

Hi M.,
I had/have the same issue with my 4 old. We are finally nearing the end though. She developed constipation problems around 18 mos. of age and it went up and down from there. We tried anything and everything. I finally took her to a pediatric GI because her doctor was at a loss of what else to do for her. Honestly, for us, things didn't really start to change until she was old enough to actually understand that holding it in made it hurt worse. In the meantime though, milk of magnesia worked great - that's what our GI put her on. However, I wouldn't put her on any medication until you have seen a doctor - sometimes there could be something physical going on that's causing the constipation. I would at least consider having her seen by your doctor just to rule anything out. Just hang in there...I know it's tough, but things will eventually click and she'll be fine!

I have had this issue with my daughter since she was a baby and she is 4 1/2 now. Our doctor put her on Miralax, which is now over the counter,when she turned three. It is a powder that disolves in any liquid and does not have a taste. I give her a full dose if she seems to be having a hard time but then drop back to a 1/2 dose every day when she seems to be okay. Our doctor said to keep her on it everyday for at least a year, it could help to "train" her body on what to do.

You got a lot of good advise. My son is 9 and still has a slight problem with constipation, but not like when he was younger! When he was little I too had to do what the doctor did in one of the scenarios below & also got a child's suppository to help it - It was a terrible day! I found something at the store (can't remember the name) but it was chocolate flavored kids medicine for constipation. My son loved chocolate milk, so I just added that to every cup. He is good at taking medicine, but my niece isn't & this was a clever way to give them medicine without them knowing it. He never did say it tasted any different. You also need to tell her why it's important to go poopie. That even though it hurts, she need to get it out, and the more she gets it out the more it won't hurt. I told my son that if he continued to hold it, he would have to go to the doctor ... and maybe get a SHOT! Not only did my son say it hurt, but he said the potties at the daycare were dirty. - I brought that to the attention of the daycare! Good luck.

This is something you should discuss with your Pediatrician in my opinion. My son went through the same thing at age 4 and she evaluated him, then recommended miralax. She probably had one or two instances that hurt and that's causing her to hold it, which she doesn't understand will make the problem worse, but it can also damage her rectum. It is something your pediatrician should help you monitor. I read a lot about this when we went through it and they strongly recommend against mineral oil now because children can aspirate it and damage their lungs.

I would continue with the prune juice. I don't know if the prunes themselves will make much difference, but I would guess that they do since prune juice is a natural laxative. I would also suggest trying to increase her fiber. I know that when I give my kids things like Cheerios, they always have much softer bowel movements.

It could also be a fear issue. If she is afraid to go because she associates it with pain, she will tense up instead of relaxing. This will make it more difficult for her to move her bowels comfortably. I'm not really sure how you could encourage her except maybe by telling her that you know it hurt before but she should try again and it might not hurt so bad this time.

If it is persistent, you can ask her doctor about what medication they would suggest. There are suppositories that you can use to help soften bowel movements specifically for children pretty much in any pharmacy section at the store. I would talk to her doctor before doing this though.

HTH

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