11 answers

Toddler Scared to Have a Bowel Movement

My daughter has been having some constipation issues. We are working on her diet to make some changes to get her stomach working better. Unfortunately, her last few waking bowel movements were painful and she told us "poopie ow". Now, she is scared to have a bowel movement when she is awake. She needs to go, and tells us, but when we ask her poopie, she says no, very emphatically. She'll then have a bowel movement in her sleep after she relaxes. Any suggestions on how to get her to understand that it won't hurt now that she is eating better, would be appreciated! Thanks all.

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I second the mineral oil. A tablespoon mixed with some ice cream, once a day will do the trick. Mineral oil was prescribed 6 years ago to my 12 month old son by a pediatric gastroenterologist. Do that for a month, then starting cut down the days. Three times per week, then two till she doesn't need it anymore. Mineral oil is safe and not addictive.

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I had the same problem with two of my three kids! We waited a long time with the first one to do something about it and I regret that. But with the second we knew what to do: Miralax!! You can buy it over the counter now. It softens the stool which keeps it from being painful. It can take months, but eventually they get over the fear. Good luck!


I second the mineral oil. A tablespoon mixed with some ice cream, once a day will do the trick. Mineral oil was prescribed 6 years ago to my 12 month old son by a pediatric gastroenterologist. Do that for a month, then starting cut down the days. Three times per week, then two till she doesn't need it anymore. Mineral oil is safe and not addictive.

Ask your pediatrician about using Miralax. It's just extra fiber so it does not cause dependency like laxatives can. You definitely want to solve this now so you don't end up with poop issues for years (4 so far) like we did!!

I dealt with the same thing with my three year old. Here are some things that helped:
1. Apple Juice...do not water it down!
2. You made need to put some Vasaline on her bottom to help it come out
3. Laxative to soften it
4. Supositories (I don't know if I spelled that right)...I used these as a last resort.
5. My MIL gave us a bag of bran to mix in her food.

I hope some of this helps! My daughter now goes with little problems.

I understand that this is pretty common ... we had friend's whose little guy wouldn't poo until it made him sick! V went through this earlier this year. we had to do the FLEET suppositories, which work, but are a little drastic.

Fruit, diet, fiber, are all great. At least she is pooping -- even if it's not when and where she should!

All the best -- this too shall pass

(bad pun not intended)

I just wanted to second the Miralax suggestion. We had the same problem with my daughter from age 2.5 to 4. The Miralax worked wonders. I mixed it with her sippy of water in the morning - can't even taste it. One other suggestion (but don't know if your daughter is too little for this) At one point when my little one was about 3 I was so frustrated about the whole thing and wanted her pain to go away. I remember sitting her on the potty, looking into her eyes, and very FIRMLY telling her she had to to let it out. It may sound crazy, but I think it got through to her a little. Not sure if you can reason with a 19 month old though. Also, my brother (a doctor) suggested putting her on the toilet backwards. Another crazy sounding idea, but it forced her to really spread her legs, and made it very difficult for her to withhold. Once again, this suggestion might not work for such a little girl, but if your problem persists it might be worth a try as you begin potty training. I hope she's "cured" before that though!

Oh, and one other thing. As far as the diet goes, when my daughter started going through this I was very insistent about her eating a lot of fruit (she's not crazy about veggies) To this day I'm in the habit of cutting up an apple, putting it in a tupperware and taking it with us wherever we go. Especially if we're going to a restaurant where I know all she'll eat is grilled cheese and fries. She eats her apples while we wait for our order to arrive. That might sound silly too, but hey, makes me feel better that I'm getting as much fiber into her as I can!! She even asks "where are my apples?" now. Good luck, A..


My second child was the same way. From 13 months even up until now that is a problem for us. It slowed down her potty training b/c she would associate hurting with the potty. We took my daughter to 7 different doctor's before we ended up with the pediatrician we have now (been with him for 7 years). Each doctor would tell us to change her diet. We did didn't work. All of my kids eat healthy veggies and meals. They even said give mylanta we did didn't work. Suppositories really didn't even work. We even tried upping how much juice she drank in a day didn't work. The doctor they have now is the only one that ever wanted to go further. He ordered her to have a barum enema done at the local hospital. Nothing was found out but he is the one that took the extra step. I started talking to other parents of kids that were almost teenagers and they said that their daughters have the same problem even when they get older. My second child is now 9 years old and still has the same problem. She goes every day and it will still be constipated and clog up the toilet. A helpful tip try getting her to eat more apples if you can it may help a little. Also, the nurses always adviced me to let her soak in a tub of baking soda it will help with the tears that come from having such a big bowel movement. When she gets on the toilet let her read a book or read one with her to get her mind off of it. That is what we taught my daughter and she still does it now. Hope some of this helps. I know it is frustrating because it is not something you can prevent but hang in there hopefully it will pass.

My sisters son had the same problem we gave him mineral oil and it really helped him. Just put it in her food and then wean her off of it. You might also investigate to see what kinds of foods hurt her maybe milk?

We had a similar problem with the onset of potty learning. I made sure there was a potty in front of the TV so that she would be able to go there and be distracted. I tried to minimize the dairy products she was eating and also give her some probiotics to make sure she had good bacteria in her system to help digestion (they have yummy strawberry chewable version in the refrigerated case) and I also made sure she had a shorter potty to squat on. That is the one she eventually used. As far as diet, I would also try to limit or cut out sugar and white flour. Oatmeal or other fiber rich cereal can help. Good Luck!

make sure she's hydrated (water is the best!) and i fifth the fiber suggestions. my daughter has had constipation issues since birth and now with help of a daily stool softener she still only goes during nap and in a pullup. my feeling is that as long as she's going i'm happy. a painful poo can start a vicious cycle but if you keep them soft she'll forget about the pain. good luck!

I have to second Maria F's suggestion of Miralax. My oldest dd (now 9) went through a similar problem at around age 2. She had a huge bowel movement once that didn't hurt her as far as I know, but it totally freaked her out seeing it in the toilet and from that point on, she wanted nothing more to do with pooping. It got so bad we had to see a gastroenterologist. She would sit on the floor with her knees drawn up and fight not have a BM. It was crazy. We tried the fruit juices, the prunes, higher fiber diet, suppositories, but nothing worked. The dr. put her on Miralax, which was prescription at the time, but you can get OTC now. We had to tweak the dose so that it softened things up enough that she couldn't stop herself from going (and to make it easier initially when she did) but not to the point of having diarrhea. It did the trick. As Maria F said, it will take a few months at least. I think my dd was on it almost a year, but once we stopped it she had no further problems and continued using the bathroom normally.

Good luck. I know how frustrating a problem it is to deal with. :o)

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