46 answers

Please Help. I Am Very Worried About My Son.

My son is 5, and within the past 6 months he has quit eating almost everything we give him. He won't eat Mac N Cheese, Ramen Noodles, Spaghetti, Garlic Bread, Chicken nuggets. Spaghettios, most meats....and the list is continuously growing. I do make him sit at the table until he eats but lately he's been throwing up if I do that. He has also had a change in his mental status. He is very clingy, sensitive, and does not like to go anywhere. When I do take him somewhere 10 minutes later he is asking to come home. He has also been very constipated, and having alot of bloody bowel movements. I have called the Ped and he is on vacation until Mid April. I am not sure what to do with him. I have tried Miralax and suppositories and they don't seem to be doing much of anything. He has always been a great kid and he still is, but I am really worried that something is bothering him other than being constipated. Can anyone maybe shed some light. I really am at a loss and don't know what else to do. Thanks in advance.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Wow Ladies, thanks for all the responses. Seems like maybe we have all had similar problems at one time or another with our kids. I did call the Ped back today, and they are getting him in with the nurse practitioner this Fri. He will have some labs done. As for the ones that have mentioned sexual or traumatic experiences that is not possible. My son is not left behind with anyone other than myself or my husband. He does go to Pre-K for half a day, and even his teachers have noticed a change in his behaviour. Hopefully we can find something out on Fri. He does eat fruits and veggies in fact that is all I can get him to eat anymore which is not a bad thing. Once again thanks to you all for the responses. I really appreciate it.

I got my son into the Dr on this past Fri, and he is so constipated that he is impacted. That is why he has been not wanting to eat or go anywhere because he just doesn't feel good. I have been told how to handle the problem here at home, and that is what we are doing. So far so good, but his treatment will be a long process to get him fully cleaned out. Thanks for all the great advice.

Featured Answers


Have you tried giving him prunes or prune juice? If he could eat a few prunes once a day or prune juice, I think it would help him. It helps me. I have a constipation problem too. I take Miralax once a day and I still don't have regular bowel movements and if I take prunes it helps.

J. M

With those symptoms I would drive immediately to the Children's Hospital in Indianapolis. Don't wait for anything. That is not normal at all and the symptoms are serious enough I wouldn't even bother with the ped's office as they will just send him somewhere for some tests.

This happened to my daughter. She was so backed up that she was throwing up! The doctor felt her belly and it was hard. So he had an xray taken. The xray showed that she was backed all the way to her stomach. So he prescribed a non-habit forming powder (which is just fiber) for me to give to her and I would mix it in with her milk. Is there any way you could see another pediatrician in the doctor's office?

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Definitely call the ped back and find out who is taking on patients while your ped is on vacation. There has to be a 'substitute'. If there isn't, then get him into another ped to be checked out. I didn't look up where you are located at but the Nationwide Children's Hospital in Cols has excellent drs that specifically deal w/intestinal prbls. Don't wait until your ped comes back, get your son checked out right away. Until you can get in, start keeping a food diary for your son. Write down the changes you have seen in him, what he eats, when he throws up and when he has a bowl movement or the lack thereof. It will help the ped w/the diagnosis.

Dear J.,
from what you are saying something is really going with your son. So i won't wait until mid april to see the Ped. I will see if I can find another pediatrician or go to Children's hospital. I'm a mom who tend to not panic or worry at the first sign of something going on with my kids but if one of my kids is displaying this behavior I will think something worth checking into is happening...Specially with bloody bowel..THAT's NOT normal!!
Good luck with everything.

It sounds like it's very important that you get your son to A pediatrician - if yours is out of town, you need to go to a different doctor this time. Your son's symptoms remind me of celiac disease, in which a person cannot digest and get nutrients from gluten. Pasta, bread, breading and baked goods could all cause these problems to surface. (If you would like to test a food that he might like that is gluten-free, rice and rice cereals or snacks do not contain gluten. See http://www.digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/celiac/ for more information.)

It sounds as if it is hurting your son to have a bowel movement so he isn't. Well, he isn't having a bowel movement either because it hurts or because he can't. Either way, if his body isn't eliminating anything, he isn't going to be hungry. I would be very concerned if he has blood in his stool and you mentioned he is throwing up when you "force" him to eat. I would want to take my child to their regular pediatrician, but in this case I would take him to whoever I could. Maybe the receptionist at your doctor's office could recommend someone else. I would definitely get him into the doctor's.

Check out apfed.org ...my son has this..The constipation, bloody stools and refusing to eat are big symptoms. We also have behaviour changes with food reactions and your son refusing to eat food may be due to he knows its going to hurt him. Even if you don't always see the physical side of it.

Is he getting enough fluids? a lot of times being constipated can cause nausea and vomitting which leads to not wanting to eat. I would definately take him to the doctor even if it isn't his regular physician, but I would also try and get him to take in more fluids to help with the constipation.


It sounds like you are trying to give him a lot of pre-prepared foods that have stuff that are hard to digest and have a lot of chemicals. I know that several of the things you named have MSG in them. My daughter has a severe sensitivity to MSG and when we realized this, and she was getting sick all the time, she was eating Ramen noodles on a daily basis. Ramen are one of the worst offenders with TONS of MSG. You may want to take a close look at his diet and see if the things that you are giving him might be making him sick. I know it is a pain, because 5 year olds don't always like much, but it may be worth looking into.

Good Luck,

Get him to the doctor. Bloody bowel movements are not something to mess around with. Your doctor's office should have someone covering the patients while he is on vacation. If he doesn't, have them recommend someone else. I can't believe a ped would be so irresponsible! If our ped goes on vacation, she has someone cover her office, even if it means that we have to drive to another office. The other option is to take him to an ER or a RediMed. He needs to get seen and soon!

Sounds like you need to by-pass the pediatrician and get your son to another doctor. Any way the bloody stool can be because it it so hard that it is causing some tearing in the rectum. I would get his off all processed food. Sounds like he could be sensitive to gluten which causes and opiate efect on the brain (leaky gut) is common with children on the autistic spectrum. Not saying he is, but something worth exploring. Also I have Juice Plus+ whole food gummies that will at least give him concentrated raw, fruits and vegetables. Water will also help, but if he has a "Plug" (the hard stool that has not passed, I would give him a table spoon of milk of magnesia and then miralx in a juice cup with some watered down juice. Contact me if you want more info on JP+ it will change your child's over-all picture of health. I have three kids, too. But get to a doctor!

J. you mentioned that you work parttime who is whatching him? Have they seen the same behavior? Does your son want to stay with this person? You need to take your son to the doctor that is covering for your ped, and if for some reason their is no covering doctor you need to ask for a refering doctor or simply take him to a Ped. ER.
This has been going on far to long. Don't wait any longer. Your son could be suffering and not able to communicate because he doesn't undrstand himself.Please stop giving him Miralax it can cause more harm. I am very concerned. Please update us with what you find out.

J....Isn't there another doctor you can see when yours is out of town? I wouldn't wait until the middle of April to check on this. Get a referral from another M..

I would see a ped fast. Is there someone on call taking patients while your ped in on vacation? if not, i would take him somewhere else. trust your instinct. something is up.
even the er possibly?

My great nephew went through this and it was allergies.

If your doctor is going to be gone for that long please take your son to the nearest children's urgent care center. Please evaluate all of your son's relationships. Are you leaving him at a sitter while you are working? If so has anything changed? My son started acting strange like this before I took him out of our last sitters care. I have my suspision that my son my have been neglected while in her care. If this is a dramatic change please take your son to the doctor.

Dear J.,

First, all of the foods you mentioned (with the exception of meat) are not really very nutritionally sound. They are also foods that will add to your son's constipation problem. He needs fruits and vegetables that are high in fiber and that appeal to him.

Bloody stool in a 5 year old? That is something that begs an answer immediately. Call the pediatrician's office and ask them who is on call to see his patients during his absence. This is something that can't wait. You need to take him to someone ASAP. Do not treat him yourself at home without a proper diagnosis.

It sounds like you're worried that something might have happened to him while he was not in your immediate care. Once you get him to a doctor, explain all of your concerns. That will help the doctor make a correct diagnosis.

First, stop with the over-processed junk food. Get a cook book like "Whole foods for the whole family" and get on a better diet. People who eat well are rarely constipated.
Second, I'd try an immediate care facility if you can't see your own doc for another month. It sounds like maybe something more than just a bad diet if it's changing the way he acts as well.
Third, make sure he's staying hydrated with water and milk, not juice or pop or other drinks. Get him some vitamins so at least he's got those in his system if not nourishing food until you can figure out what's going on with him.

He's probably clingy because he feels sick and can't eat. This sounds like something very serious. Take him to a doctor.

Hi J.,
Can you call your Ped office to request a referral to a PED Gi specialist. If there is no one in the office I would take him to an emergency room to get him checked out and then they may be able to give you the referral that you need. When my son was 3 he had a difficult time with BM's they hurt him and he would get fishers. My doc at the time told me not to worry, however, my son soon realized if he didn't eat so much he then wouldn't have to go to the bathroom and since he associated BM's with pain he didn't eat much. When I took him to the Ped GI she was able to reasure me that he was okay just a little to smart that he put that together. She put him on a high dose of Miralax so his BM's were of a yogurt of pudding consistency. We then real slow backed off his dosage. He is now 8, a great eater and has no issues with BM's and is not on any type of stool softner. We did have him on the Miralax for a year under the doctors supervision. (at the time you needed an RX for Miralax.) I hope you this helps.

Please get him checked out asap, go to the ER if you have to. The symptoms you described could indicate that he has an inflammatory bowel disease, like Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis. If he loses too much blood, he can become anemic and will require blood transfusions. I know, because that's what happened when my daughter was 4.

i personally would take my son to a childrens close to home but if you don't have one close to you i would deffintley take hom to the er that does not sound good you will pry have to take him to a specialist for his stomach (but thats not as bad as it sounds i'll pray for your son n you i know haw scary this is for you

I would get him to a docs to get testing done as soon as possible and mid April is way too far away. Is there another doc. you can take him too? Without proper education (doc's) and possible testing, there's no way to know what is really going on.

Please get your doctor in on this as soon as possible.
You did not mention how old your youngest is, but do you think your 5 year old could be asking for attention with this attitude toward food?
Your comment that "the list is gradually growing" got my attention.
Your youngest may require a lot of attention and your boy may have decided that this is the way to get his share.
You did not mention anything about fruits and vegetables in your note.
This may be why he is constipated.
It is possible that he is working himself up into throwing up.
I would get him to the doctor and see if he has lost weight etc.
If he is ok physically then I would not make an issue of eating but would certainly require him to sit at the table with the family at meal times.
And make sure that he is getting attention, not just the negative kind that is surroundin eating.
And if he is constipated, explain to him that that is a consequence of not eating the variety of foods that his body needs to eliminate waste.
It sounds to me like he has found the perfect way to get your attention.

Hi there - I would give him some aloe vera found at the health food stores. I give it to my 2 year old when her bowels get hard - works like a charm and tasteless.

Best wishes!

Hi J.
First of all you should be worried. If your son is having bloody stools that is not good and could be something serious. You need to go to another peditrician right away. Have you tried fresh fruits and veggies and fresh juices with him? If he is really constipated he may not feel like eating. Please get him to the doctor and try making him fresh food, nothing processed! Take care and good luck!

I would go ahead and take him to the ER when there is blood involved you don't want to wait.

Please, if your ped only has one doctor, and no one to cover his patients while he is on his vacation then PLEASE, take your son to the ER. A bloody stool and vomiting are definitly a sign that something is wrong in his little body. It could be something he is eating that you are unaware of. His clinging may just be because he's not feeling well (the bloody stools and vomiting).

It sounds like it may be a phsyical problem, but it could be a combination of something going on in his life that you may not know about and physical.

Hi J.,
You "should" be very worried about your son. Take him to an urgent care facility immediately. Bloody stools are a serious warning as is not eating, vomiting, and clinging. He's trying to tell you he doesn't feel well. Young people dehydrate rapidly. Do not wait until mid April to take your son to the doctor. He has a serious problem now. It could be many things. With my son, it was a hernia that needed immediate surgery. We got him there on time. Please Take him in NOW.
God Bless, D.

With those symptoms I would drive immediately to the Children's Hospital in Indianapolis. Don't wait for anything. That is not normal at all and the symptoms are serious enough I wouldn't even bother with the ped's office as they will just send him somewhere for some tests.

This happened to my daughter. She was so backed up that she was throwing up! The doctor felt her belly and it was hard. So he had an xray taken. The xray showed that she was backed all the way to her stomach. So he prescribed a non-habit forming powder (which is just fiber) for me to give to her and I would mix it in with her milk. Is there any way you could see another pediatrician in the doctor's office?

Kids tastes vary when they are growing up. My daughter still does this and she's almost 11. Sometimes she just felt comfort in the old faithful foods and didn't want to try anything new. Then sometimes she just wanted a little control. It's normal. Try to introduce new foods.

J., please...don't wait to take your little boy to the doctor. If yours in not in town he/she must have left a physician to cover his practice. If not, go to an urgent care or the ER. Those are not normal symptoms and he should get care asap.

I would get him to a doctor. Most doctors that are going to be out for an extended period of time have someone who is covering for them. I know when I get constipated I don't feel good at all and I definitely don't want to eat. That could explain why he is acting clingy also. Due to the bloody stools, I would get it looked at medically. It could be nothing, but I would want to have it checked out.
Hope everythings ok.
L. (Mother of a 7, 5, & 2year old)

I would be worried too. Sounds like a lot is going on with him. Taking each thing separately. The eating habits could very well be a change in tastes. Kids go through phases with food likes and dislikes. If he is not losing weight, then he is getting enough to eat.
Being clingy could be that he is getting to the age that he is feeling a little self concious. Did something happen at school, or with a playmate that would make him feel bad about himself? being teased is rough for kids. Or it could be a social anxiety developing.
The bloody stool... is the blood comming from within and in the toilet bowl when he finishes? Or is it only on the toilet paper? If its only on the tp and a small amount, i would not be worried. however it cannot be comfortable at all for him and if continued he may begin to not want to go the the bathroom.
If these things were happening with my child, i would not wait til april to see his doctor. I would be on the phone finding a pediatrition that could see him very soon. Good luck honey. I'm not a doctor by any means.... I have children ages 14 and 10.

yes i do there is something more going on here.get to a childrens hospital and have them look at him.

OMG I would rush him to a redimed or the emergency room or see if there is another doctor covering for your doctor while he is on vacation.The eatting thing would bother me since he is throwing up would scare me to death. There has to be a point where enough is enough and I think you have reached that point. If it was one of my children I would have them there today...

Go to another ped in the practice - they have docs to cover their patients when they are on vacation.

We've had lots of experience with constipation with our son since he's been going round and round with encopresis since he was 4. When he's been really impacted, he has zero appetite and his behavior changes. You may just need to get him really cleaned out. Docs usually use an x-ray to determine how much a child is impacted - you'd be surprised at how much stool can collect inside of them. :-( The standard way to clean them out is heavy doses of Miralax... for our 50 lbs kid that meant 5-6 capfuls of Miralax for 4-5 days in a row. Expect lots of small accidents during the 2nd and 3rd day because the stool basically turns to water. The reaction to the clean-out was immediate... within a day he was much more active and eating everythign in sight.

I also want to mention that all the foods you listed can caused constipation - mac & cheese is the absolute worst and main thing to avoid if your child is constipated.

I just re-read your post and saw the bloodly bowel movements... that's a Red Flag that he needs to be checked out IMMEDIATELY. Take him to an ER if you can't get him to a pediatrician today!

Hi J....I'm sure you are terrified for your little guy, I would be! I definitely think you need to let your Pediatrian's office know what is going on and see if there is a physician covering for his doctor. With the blood in his stool, that can be very dangerous and I'm sure they will want to order some tests ASAP. If the doctor's office cannot get you in or treats you as though this is not an emergency, I would take your son to the ER ASAP so that someone can help him get some relief from his symptoms and give you a peace of mind about what is going on. As for the change in his personality, I think that is definitely a red flag that something is going on or something has happened. Has he been exposed to any traumatic events in your household or elsewhere? I would see if there is something going on that he needs to talk to you or someone about. I think this is something you need to attend to immediately for both your sake and his. Good luck and update us on how he's doing.

Hey J.,

I would take him to another pediatrician, or go to urgent care at Children's right away. Once you have the constipation straight, if the other behaviors persist, then you should look into what to do, but until the physical problem is fixed, you just can't tell how much of this is because of how he feels.

Good luck, I hope he feels better soon.


It's a good idea to rule out anything physically wrong.

Sounds to me like something could be really bothering him. Could he be worried about his brother with the heart defects? You might see about going to a counselor just in case. Keep offering him a variety of foods, and ask him if there's anything he wants to try. Might try taking just him to the store with you and make it "your special trip" with him.

Last September, I fell and really hurt my hand (had to go to the ER, and later on had it operated on - they thought I'd severed the nerve in my pinky). My 5 year old was in the room when it happened, and we tried not to make a big deal about it, but she still was very upset by it. Part of it was that she had asked me to close the closet door; it was dark, and I didn't see this little ottoman on the floor tripped over it, and impaled my hand on a toy.

She had some trouble in tumbling class because she was scared to do much without help or guidance, but she's doing great now. We talked about Mommy's hand being hurt - I made sure to tell her that it wasn't her fault, that it was an accident. Mommy didn't see the ottoman on the floor - I should have turned on the light, but it wasn't her fault at all, and that Mommy's hand was going to be fine. She still likes to put lotion on it - the dr. said I'd need to do that, and she's wanted to help; she's been very careful with it too!

It could be there's something he's worried about - maybe his sibling with the heart defects, maybe it's something else. Let him know it's okay to be worried about that, and it's okay to talk about it with you and your husband because you guys worry about it too, and try to help him work through it.

For what it's worth, and good luck!

Hopefully he is eating vegetables and fruit, which would solve the constipation. If he is having mental stress, maybe you need to get further help. I think a physical exam is what is called for here. Ask your doctor's office who is taking over for them while he is on vacation. If not, try a walk in clinic, get a new doctor, or the ER.

Get him to the doctor. He sounds dehydrated too. His electrolytes may be out of wack too. If you can't get him to the dr get him to a children's hospital. 6 months is too long to wait.

First and most important get your child to the er. And I would think of changing my Pedi - when the doctor left he should have got someone to cover for him which the people at his office should have told you and if you told them what was going on they should have made sure you got someone to look at your child - but that can be taken care of later. I don't know where you live - but if you have a good hospital where you are go to the ER -

Have you considered it may be a control issue for him?
Perhaps he is trying to see who is the boss. It sounds as if he might be. He is controlling what he will and will not eat even though he has loved it in the past? have you considered telling him what is for dinner and if he eats fine and if not fine. (he will not starve he will eventually eat) He may be eating things that are making him constipated. His mental status could be nutrition related as well. I am sure you make him good meals of thing he likes.
I hope this is not too harsh. I had a similar issue with my daughter and it took a dear friend, her doctor and tough love for me to realize she was manipulating me as a form of being the boss.
I hope that is all it is. good luck to you and know you are not alone. This can be a very emotional issue for the parent as well.
I would still take him to a doctor to see why he has a bloody stool. You might consider a counselor.

If there is not a fill-in for your ped while he/she is on vacation, I would take your son to the ER or urgent care. Bloody bowel movements is not something that you should delay in having examined.


Have you tried giving him prunes or prune juice? If he could eat a few prunes once a day or prune juice, I think it would help him. It helps me. I have a constipation problem too. I take Miralax once a day and I still don't have regular bowel movements and if I take prunes it helps.

J. M

If it were me I would take my son to a childrens hosptial ER immediately! The bloody bowel movements is not normal. If they say that you are over-reacting so be it but better to over-react than to under-react.


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