20 answers

Pooping in Her Sleep?

Okay - this will be a bit detailed and graphic (poop-wise); I apologize in advance.

So my very intelligent and tenacious little daughter has been potty-trained for a few months now. She started pooping in the toilet very young and then it took quite a while to learn to stay dry. She is now 2 years and 9 months old and, until two weeks ago, had been totally potty-trained (no day-time accidents) for about two months. Then we took a trip to Idaho (4-hour car drive)and suddenly she started waking up from her naps and in the morning with a FULL pull-up of poop. I chocked it up to changes in her schedule and the stress of being away from home and figured it would stop when life got back to normal. But that was two weeks ago and she has still not had a normal poop in the toilet.

My first instinct was that she was "holding back" but shouldn't that lead to constipation? When she does finally go in the diaper (here's the gross part)it is NOT hard or "constipated-looking". It is QUITE the opposite. Does that happen? When I ask her about it she says her body hasn't learned to not go poopoo when she's sleeping (this is what I told her for why she has to wear a pull-up even tho she now goes potty in the toilet). Is it possible for her to actually have a BM while she's sleeping?

My sister suggested Miralax in the morning but I hate the idea of medicating her (even over the counter) especially since her poop is already so loose I'm afraid something making it looser would cause an even worse mess, and possibly in her underwear.

Any suggestions? She is so smart I feel like we should be able to reason it out with her but I also don't want to beat it into the ground or give it too much attention. Do I need to just be patient and trust she'll want to start pooping in the toilet again soon? Help! I'm so tired of nasty, runny, "big-girl" diapers!!

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What can I do next?

Featured Answers

Try cutting back on juice and up her fiber. When she eats fruit, feed her the peel too when appropriate. This should firm it up a bit.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi, I would not give her anything over the counter until you talk with her doctor. Giving her a stool softener would cause more problems. A change in the consistency of her bowl movement means something is going on. Call her doctor. - S.

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More Answers

You are describing a change in bowel movements. The medical community advises consulting with your doctor in such cases. Such a change can mean that there is something that needs treatment. Only a medical person can determine that.

I definitely would not assume that she is holding back. I see no reason in your description for her to do that. Of course it's possible for her to have an actual bm while she's asleep. That is what is happening. At 2 1/2 her body is not fully mature; so I would assume that it's doing what it has to do. Many toddlers are not "poop trained" at that age. It's possible that because the poop is loose her body cannot hold it until later. My concern would be the diarrhea. There are several causes for it.

I have had IBS and my bowels would leak every once in awhile at the most inappropriate times. I definitely was not constipated. And I did not have a way to control it.

You need to talk with a doctor.

2 moms found this helpful

I don't know all the details of what is possible, but i can tell you that my daughter occasionally pooops in her diaper during naps. She has been poop trained for the potty for 6 or so months, but still, every once in a while, wakes up from a nap with poop. I don't think she is holding back, or deliberately pooping her diaper, but rather that she just sometimes goes in her sleep.

I'd just keep on doing what you're doing. Encourage your daughter to try and poop before naps and bedtimes, and leave it at that. (You could also try separating meals and bed by a bit more time, if they are close together now.)

Doesn't seem like the miralax is necessary (to the contrary, actually), but if you do decide to do something like that, you could throw a couple of prunes onto her plate for breakfast.

2 moms found this helpful

Hi M.,

I'd have to agree wholeheartedly with the possibility of parasites. I have friends whose children regularly contract giardia when visiting Idaho and Montana. I don't know why, and I'm not saying anything about those states in particular, but it just happens.

check out this info and see if it looks right:
www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dpd/parasites/.../factsht_giardia.htm

Other than that, yes, it is possible for little kids to have a bowel movement in their sleep. If the runny stool continues, call your doc and ask what you can do (if you need to bring in a sample, etc.) But no, it doesn't sound like a behavioral issue. Esp with what you are describing. Kids can make themselves constipated, but they cannot conjure up diarrhea out of being just plain contrary!

1 mom found this helpful

M.,
My best guess is that she may have picked up a parasite. Based on the runny mess. I don't know where you live, but I know a doctor you could see. We had experience with parasites and diaharea. My friend's two year old (about five years ago) was going in his pants all the time, and I suggested she see the naturalpathic doctor I was seeing. Turns out, I was right. He had a parasite and she was able to get it cleared up with out "medicines". I went for about a year with this kind of problem(diahrea, mostly when I had eaten any sugar, milk, or cheese. Parasites thrive on that stuff- -I didn't know that at the time, so I was living on Kaopectate), and the reg. Dr. could not figure out what the problem was.
I highly doubt that it is because of routine change. Email me and we can discuss the type of Dr. to see. It could be a serious problem that can be cleared up pretty easily!

1 mom found this helpful

Try cutting back on juice and up her fiber. When she eats fruit, feed her the peel too when appropriate. This should firm it up a bit.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi, I would not give her anything over the counter until you talk with her doctor. Giving her a stool softener would cause more problems. A change in the consistency of her bowl movement means something is going on. Call her doctor. - S.

1 mom found this helpful

I would go talk to your doctor, or you may be able to just talk to the nurses over the phone. Sometimes with constipation you can have loose stool sneaking around the blockage, but it sounds like she has a full pull-up in the morning, so the amount of it sounds more than what you usually get with constipation. I wouldn't give her Miralax until you talk to the doctors/nurses or you may have a bigger problem on your hands. And yes, kids can poop in their sleep. If it's got to come out, it's got to come out. (I am a pediatric nurse, but in oncology so I don't know a lot of these common things with kids!) I know it's frustrating you, but you'll figure it out!

1 mom found this helpful

Ditto on the mirlax - don't use it unless you've talked to your doctor - in our house it is miracle drug so I wouldn't worry about for her age you have talked to your dr.

I do think to look at parasites - so I'd take her in or at least call. It does amaze me how often kids come back from a vacation with different toilet issues. So hopefully it will work out good - but I think calling and taking her in is key here.

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