22 answers

My 3 Year Old Son Will Not Poop--at All.

Hi Ladies. I have seen the other similar requests but my problem is a bit different. My 3 year old son will not poop--ever. He has a little brother so with 2 kids in diapers the red flags didn't go off when he would poop very small amounts of soft poo several times a day. Last November he had a bout of severe abdominal pain and was diagnosed with having a bout of colitis(inflamation of the bowel). We were advised to see a peds gastro doctor so we did. My poor kiddo had a colonoscopy to rule out any inflamatory bowel disease as well as a disease called hirschsprungs--he has neither. He has been getting Miralx daily, lots of veggies and fruit and most recently I added oatmeal. He also see's a chiropractor 2 days a week. Nothing is helping. I catch him 'pinching it off' you could say. I think it is a psychological problem and I am lost as what to do. Today his belly is HUGE. He does expell some stool daily--like overflow that his body forces out. But he is FULL-- and it isn't hard either...any body else ever have this issue?

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you all for the great advice!! Just 2 days ago I saw my son doing the 'hold-it' dance once again so I ran him into the bathroom and sat him on the toilet. He said to leave and close the door so I did (just stood quietly outside of it) and to my delight-and his-he pooped in the potty!!! He has tried this several other times without success. He was so proud of himself and I think a bit surprised at how easy it was. The next day he went all on his own---what a relief! Thanks for all the great advice, it seems like he just wasn't ready. I am looking forward to only 1 child in diapers!!!!

Featured Answers

You might want to give his poor intestines a break for a day. Just give him gator water (watered down gatorade) all day instead of food. It might let his intestines "rest" and "reset" if you will. I don't know but it might help. I know that when I have constipation or my intestines are "full" I don't eat a meal or two and instead "juice". It works for me. Good luck, hopefully you find something that works

P.,

It sounds like you are doing what you can. However, my nephew was the same way. He didn't like going poop, so he would hold it in. After so long, the muscles down there could no longer hold his poop in. He is now 7yrs old and wears pulls ups. He can't hold it in and at times doesn't want to. He could care less when he has poop in his pants and at times thinks it is funny. He refuses to sit on the toilet to go poop, but does go pee on the toilet. My sister tried Miralax and everyother over the counter medicine out there. He recently went to a Gastro doctor, and they had to go in and clean him out. I don't like having to watch my nephew for fear that I will have to change his pants. It wouldn't be so bad, but he thinks its funny to mess his pants....

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P.,

It sounds like you are doing what you can. However, my nephew was the same way. He didn't like going poop, so he would hold it in. After so long, the muscles down there could no longer hold his poop in. He is now 7yrs old and wears pulls ups. He can't hold it in and at times doesn't want to. He could care less when he has poop in his pants and at times thinks it is funny. He refuses to sit on the toilet to go poop, but does go pee on the toilet. My sister tried Miralax and everyother over the counter medicine out there. He recently went to a Gastro doctor, and they had to go in and clean him out. I don't like having to watch my nephew for fear that I will have to change his pants. It wouldn't be so bad, but he thinks its funny to mess his pants....

Not sure where you are at in trying different things but I myself had digestive issues and so did my daughter. I just finished potty training my 3 year old boy also and we got through it without any problem. We consistantly use a very easy to use twice daily drinkable nutritional supplement that has NO side effects and is safe with no warning labels. I just love that I found this for my family because not only have our digestive issues no longer been an issue but we are so much healthier overall. You can contact me if you want to learn more about it.
Best wishes and I hope you find a solution soon.
L..

My daughter refused to go to poop in the toilet, she chose to control her poop by holding it in. It took her a year of frustrating horrible screaming, giant poops, suppositories, laxatives, bribery, letting her wear pull ups, whatever it took to poop. We ended up having to go to the hospital after one horrible bout of holding it in for 10 days. She was given an xray to rule out blockage, and was given mineral oil enema and clogged a hospital toilet with her poop and then we embarked on poop training with miralax and sitting on the toilet after each meal. The thing that worked for us was a book called It hurts when I poop. I will link to that article here so you can read the whole story and a link to the book.
http://momlifestyle.com/?p=199
Good luck, and you are not alone in the frustrating, poop refusal stage, in my ECFE group there were 3 of 10 parents experiencing this as well.

My son had the same problem when he was younger... But he was also a pickier eater too. He loved milk, cheese and chicken nuggets and pizza. Unfortunately, the food he WOULD eat tended to 'plug' him up too. I also believed it also got to the point of being psychological...how could it not though??? This is painful stuff for a little one to deal with! So he stopped even trying to have a BM because it was such a stressful means to and end. Not to mention it meant he'd have to stop playing! So, of course it compounded things and complicated things much worse for him in the long run.

Our pediatrician finally prescribed Miralax...to get his bowels and intestines moving into a regular pattern again. That was an excellent way to start off and get going in the right direction... This stuff pretty much forces the BM. Which in turn got him to forget about the stress in having BMs (the pyschology stress is gone). And also it helped to get his intestines back into a normal size for his age. As I'm sure his intestines were so badly stretched out and had grown/stretched completely too big for his little body to let the BM even exit his body. Then, we eventually started in onto independent measures...and leaving the Miralax behind. Getting many more fiber and healthy foods into his diet...daily if not hourly...is so important.

Besides adding more fiber and produce. Here's some assisting dietary items to utilize instead of Miralax... Prune Juice is good...however my son tired pretty fast of this taste. However, Pear Juice is great!! -- Gerber's makes this. Though it is hard to find! Then, as he got older... We noticed that Rainbow foods sold a 3-pack of 100% Juice 'Tree Top' brand - Apple Pear juice boxes. These worked awesome! Then, also noticed that Hi-C puts pear juice in their 'Grabbin' Grape' flavor juice boxes as well. So, that helps somewhat too. Now I'm not at all an advocate for kid's drinking juice all...but this stuff did definitely worked for him! So, I think 'the end does justify the means' in this case. Also, CUB Foods in our area many times has decent fresh Bartlett Pears in their produce section. So, whenever I do see they look good....I stock up! Wait til they ripen to desired flavor/texture...then they store fairly well for awhile in the fridge. My son LOVES these (course he prefers them without the peel). But I prefer him eating actual pears to drinking juice. Also, if you can get him to eat Grapefruit (with sugar on top to entice him) and oranges or mandarine oranges (canned is fine)...this also will help him out. Unfortunately, many boys are not that great at eating produce compared to girls.... So, you definitely have to actively work at on incorporating this stuff into their diets whenever possible. I've even heard of people mashing and putting veggies into their spaghetti sauces. Or putting vegetables masked into their desserts...like brownies!

I also read an article written by a pediatrician up in Duluth...he gave his child a handful of chocolate covered raisins daily. The child thought it was a treat, but in reality he was also devouring raisins with lots of good fiber too.

Lastly, you'll need to definitely increase daily a clear type of fluid intake. The more water or clear liquid the better(heard someone mention Gatorade...that probably would work. Though be careful as I'm not sure how good ingesting a ton of salt-laden liquid is that good for the small ones). Lots of liquid helps the intestines out a TON and will help soften everything to help it pass much easily through his system too.

Best of Luck!

Hi P.,
Did you doctors also run food allergy tests? In particular an intolerance to gluten and caseins?
Poor kid must be so uncomfortable.
I could be that he is "holding it". My daughter did that for a while and we talked about how we "try" to go every day. I even did bribes for a while to get her trying. Once she learned that if she goes every day it doesn't hurt, things straightened out.

Good luck,
K.

Hi P.- you might want to do a food trial, eliminating certain foods and then adding back foods one at a until you know what is causing the issue. We too thought that our son was holding it at age 3. Fast forward to age 7 we found out that he has an intolerance to gluten, wheat, rye, barley , malt and OATS! Its not that he didn't want to go, it was that he couldn't go. Within 4 days of being gluten free he was no longer on any fiber, laxatives, etc. Check out the website celiac.com. He is a much happier healthier kid! If you have any questions, send me an email!
~S.

well CD im glad you have healthy happy kids with no health issues. But unless you have dealt with this you have no idea what you are talking about! My son is 9 and we are still trying to fix ther problem, my friends son was even older before he was better. she even did what you said and made him sit on the toilet for hours because she was at her wits end! you remind me of those people that talk about how they are not going to raise there kids a certain way before the kids are even born, you dont know what you will do till it happens and until it happens to you dont give advice on it

I highly recommend going to have a private consult with the folks at Nutritional Weight & Wellness http://www.weightandwellness.com/index.html . This is exactly the kind of thing they specialize in. It sounds like food sensitivities are wreaking havoc in his bowels. The fact that he has had issues for so long are a strong indicator. I am surprised the chiropractor has not suggested food elimination trials.

You might want to give his poor intestines a break for a day. Just give him gator water (watered down gatorade) all day instead of food. It might let his intestines "rest" and "reset" if you will. I don't know but it might help. I know that when I have constipation or my intestines are "full" I don't eat a meal or two and instead "juice". It works for me. Good luck, hopefully you find something that works

That's a tough one P.. My now 5 YO was a stubborn little boy, still is!!. He was used to the diapers to poop in, didnt know that even though you sit down to poop, it really is easier than in the diapers and its not so bad. He was scared of the change.
We finally told him no diapers for poopers and he said he was going to hold it. He did for a few days then he decided that he would eat a whole can of peaches because he knew it wouldnt make him go poop. :) Half hour later he was sitting on the toilet crying and yelling no. When it finally happened, he had the most surprised look on his face. "that was it?" kind of look. :) We had to take pictures of it, he was really proud. :)
I know you arent dealing with the same thing, but maybe a can of peaches could help :)

Good luck!!

I would check with the doctor to see if he needs an enema to get it all out of his system.

Is there a child psychologist you could see, to help him get over his fears about pooping?

good luck! I'm sure it will all work out.

My son had holding issues. The Miralax helped, but he was on it for a few years while he was "trained" to not hold it. In retrospect I'm not sure I would want him on it for that long again and might have tried other things. He is 9 and constipation is still somewhat of an issue for him. I would check back with your doctor to make sure he's getting the right doseage of Miralax and to rule out problems suggested by others such as food intolerance or allergy. If that doesn't work consult a child psychologist. Sometimes it can be an underlying fear or anxiety issue. Good luck.

Make sure he's drinking plenty of fluids. Try prune juice. Fig newton cookies. And I'd try a gentle suppository when you know he's got to go but can't - put him on the toilet afterwards as things will slide right out. My son hated those, but we threatened to use them if he couldn't poop on his own. Does he eat yogurt? High fiber cereal, and exercise (walking) may also help - but keep up the water. Fiber is great, but it needs to absorb water to do it's job.

Hi P.! I am so sorry you are going through this! AND I am so sorry that you got such terrible advice from Cindy D! Yikes! Thank goodness you have not treated your son like she suggests!
I agree with all the food sensitivity posts. There are many elimination diets out there that could benefit your son. The biggest culprit for bowel issues is wheat. Most think that whole grain is a good, healthy choice BUT even whole grain breads mess with our bodies. The optimal choice is SPROUTED grain bread. Anyway, if you want more info on that you can message me. I could go on for hours about sprouted grains! :)
I would mabey get a new chiropractor. I am surprised that they haven't helped you with the diet side of things. Have you tested for celiac? That's a good place to start. Testing for celiac is not hard. Just a simple blood test.
Please let us know how things turn out! Hang in there mom! You are doing a great job!

It could be a food allergy causing the inflammation. Also make sure that he is consuming a small amount of protein in the beginning of each meal...this will ensure that the stomach releases the gastric juices to fully break down the food and allow for full absorption - a fully distended abdomen usually means there is a lot of inflammation caused by eating carbs and fats first - so if eating a hamburger, eat a small chunk of burger before eating anything else.

You might also want to check into food sensitivities - by avoiding the food allergic to, it will reduce the inflammation.
Perhaps check with a naturopath...my husband is a chiro with naturopathic training and has helped many children and adults with these issues.
It could also be a psychological aversion to 'pooping', but I am a believer that there is something not quite right with how his body is working - get that fixed and I think everything thing should come out fine (no pun intended) :)
C.

yes, my little three in a half year old girl use to go poop in the toilet, but recently she went back to pooping in diapers. the problem that since i got mad at her for pooping in her diaper i don't know it thats the reason why now she doesn't want to poop at all. Im worried because she holds it in like for three days. I need to find the reason why this is happening to her!!!!!

My son, who is almost 4 now, has dealt with this same issue for over a year now. He will poop on the potty eventually but he hates to do it. I have had to keep him on a low dose of miralax and lots of fruits and veggies to keep him regular at all. He only goes every few days. It has gotten better and one thing that helped a little was giving him a special reward for going poop on the potty, a little sucker for a little poop and a great big sucker for a big poop.

I don't give my son hardly any sugary foods in general and that has seemed to help some, plus it makes the sucker more of a reward. I would consider checking your son for food allergies, as your situation seems a bit more extreme than my sons. But it is so tough, seeing them in pain but refusing to go!

When this problem was at its worst, I would also lay my son on the floor of the bathroom with a diaper under him and pump his knees up towards his chest steadily for up to 10 minutes, then just hold his knees up to his chest for a min or two. This position and motion seemed to keep him from holding his poo in. I only used this method if he hadn't gone in more than 3-4 days and I could tell he was uncomfortable. I hated doing it because it made him cry, but it also got the poo out and he felt better when it was done.

Good luck to you, I feel your pain!
S.

I read all the reply's to your question and everyone appears to think that it is a medical issue. I am just the opposite.. it is a defiant action. He just doesn't want to and won't. It is time to take charge mom... take him to the bathroom, set him on the toliet and say "We are going to go poop! Give him no alternative. If he is having, overflow like you say he does and his bowels are soft then there is no reason why he can't other then he just doesn't want to. He has the upper hand in the situation which he likes. Give him no alternative.. you either go poop or sit on the toliet all day until you do. No rewards.. no words of congratulations etc. When he is done his duty, show him how to wipe and go about your business. Maybe I am old fashioned but in raising and toliet training my boys with this method, they were completely trained by the time they were 2 to 2 1/2. Mom and Dad have to set the guidelines and the consequences. Stop being your child's friend and be a parent. Unpopular in these days but us older generation never had these issues with our kids. Child were taught without the use of bribes or rewards for normal behavior. I am not saying that it is easy but you will find that being matter of fact about the whole ordeal will reap you more rewards then all the modern ways. And why does your 2 year old go to a chiropractor.

Since he's "pinching it off" I wonder about a sore rectum, especially since he's had poop issues for awhile. I can tell you, from personal experience, that even just one sore poop can leave you hurting for weeks. The subsequent poops just feel like sandpaper. He may not even realize that it's not supposed to hurt when you poop! They sell OTC suppositories to soothe the area. I think they are just called "hemmorhoid suppositories" and you can get them at any pharmacy. He probably won't appreciate the suppository aspect (LOL) but if you give him those for a week, he might be in better shape.

If the suppositories aren't the solution, I would try an "elimination diet". There is lots of info out there on how to do this, but basically you eliminate all major allergens from his diet for 2 weeks, then slowly add them back one by one to find the culprit(s). It might be hard to juggle his special diet for several weeks, but it would beat more invasive, expensive testing. Good luck!

Sounds like how my son was. It turns out he didn't have nerves to his bowels and needed to go into the hospital for a "clean out" then the meds worked better- but we eventually had an irrigation port port in and he gets cleaned out every night that way. You may want to bring him to GI specialists. The mayo's are pretty good- they were able to get to the bottom of my son's pretty quick.

-good luck

When your son was in for the colonscopy, did he also have an endoscopy (I'm not sure if they're actually the same thing, but just with different names?) with a biopsy to check for Celiac disease? Most people (and doctors) think Celiac disease is only with diarrhea, but the fact is, most people who are undiagnosed actually have constipation. If a person has Celiac disease, they will usually also have other food intolerances and have malabsoption, because their bodies aren't getting the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals they need from the food they eat.

I have a list of about 309 symptoms of Celiac disease. If you're interested, contact me and I'll send it to you (it's in Word). And that goes for anyone here reading who's interested. Please contact me and I'll send.

I'm currently on a Gluten Challenge myself for 6 weeks so that I can have the Celiac blood panel drawn and a colonscopy, endoscopy, and biopsy done to see if I have Celiac disease. Also, please keep in mind that one can test negative on the blood tests and still have a positive biopsy for Celiac. My daughter has many of the symptoms of Celiac, but her lab tests so far have been negative. If I test positive for Celiac, she's having a biopsy done as well (Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that is genetic/runs in families).

Hi P. -

I had a similar problem with one of my twins, he would do everything BUT poop! I knew he was having terrible tummy aches. My mom was talking with someone and they suggested using 'Cod Liver Oil' - its sounds terrible - but its not! We tried it (desperate as we were), I bought the lemon flavored cod liver oil and mixed it with lemonade (you can mix with any juice). My son never knew, and within a few days, he was pooping every morning within 2 hours of eating breakfast. I really think it was totally in his head, being afraid to poop. When taking the cod liver oil, he just had to poop and it was so easy, it wasn't like he had to 'push' it out (sorry, a bit graphic). It took about 1 week and we were done with our issues. Good Luck - hope this helps!! :)

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