Constipation and My Toddler

Updated on April 21, 2010
S.O. asks from Edmond, OK
23 answers

Hi Mamas,

I'm hoping to get some good info/advice from you all. About 6 weeks ago my son started to have constipation issues. I changed nothing in his diet and prior to this he was going a few times a day most days (at least once a day). When this all started he had such a painful bowel movement and it was so large I actually had to assist him in removing it (sorry to be so graphic). It was quite traumatic. On and off he would seem to be doing better, but then he would go two to three days without a movement and it would be painful and big for him again. I called the pediatrician and they recommended getting a stool softener for him and trying that out. They also recommended giving him benefiber everyday to make sure he is getting enough fiber.

Here is a sample of his diet, I rotate through these meals:

Breakfast-cereal with milk (multigrain cheerios or rice chex), whole grain blueberry waffles, oatmeal with fresh fruit, depending on what he eats, I will give him some more fruit.

Lunch- Peanut butter and jelly (low sugar) on whole wheat, soup and crackers, chicken sausage with cheese cubes

Dinner- Whatever we are having-pasta with tomato sauce, turkey meatloaf. If he doesn't like what we are having, I give him one of the above mentioned if he didn't have it that day.

Snacks- dried cereal, applesauce, yogurt, fruit, cottage cheese, cereal bars, peach cups, sweet potatoes, banana (only half), grapes, and raisons.

I have tried to get him to eat veggies but he does not care for them, carrots he does okay with. I thought maybe he had an intolerance to whole milk so I switched him to 2%, that didn't help and he doesn't drink much of it anyway. I mix the benefiber in with his water but only on and off. I guess I am afraid it might constipate him more?

I feel so bad for him when he does finally poop. It is not as painful for him but I'm afraid that he now associates pooping with pain. His little belly gets really bloated too after a couple of days of no poop. I would just love to find something that I can give him everyday that will produce some poops! I have started him on probiotics also hoping that it will make him more regular (no luck so far but it hasn't been a month yet and I think it takes some time).

So. Knowing all the info, do you guys have any ideas for me? I am taking him to the doctor next week for his 18mo well check and plan to discuss this in length. I plan on giving him his "poop smoothie" tomorrow morning as it will be day 3 with no poop. The smoothie consists of yogurt, fresh fruit, a little milk, and the stool softener liquid (it takes horrible so I have to disguise it).

Thanks ladies!

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So What Happened?

I ended up going to the store and buying Miralax. I gave it to him tonight diluted in a cup of apple juice and he went a few hours later, with no pain! I am going to give him a smaller dose tomorrow and for the next couple of days until I talk to his doctor next week at his 18 month well check about keeping this up regularly. Thanks so much for all your advice and personal stories. No one I know personally with children is going through this so it's nice to talk about it with others who have been through it.

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answers from Houston on

I really wish I had time to read all the replies to this but I don't right now but all I can say is MIRALAX is a MIRACLE!!! My 7 month old was severely constipated with large poop that with all the pushing he could do he could not get out. My son once went 3 1/2 weeks without any poop and the ER acted like oh well some kids just don't poop everyday and I just finally had it. We went to Texas Children's and paid out the wazoo for a gastroenterologist and Miralax was the answer they gave and we needed. He was only 6 mos. at the time of the visit and they said for the first 3 days, give 2 teaspoons of Miralax (tasteless powder) in a bottle each day and they were quite confident it would get him going and it did and after that just 1 teaspoon a day. If he gets constipated again, put 2 teaspoons again for a day or two and then back down to one. It has worked like a charm. Miralax is over the counter and probably available at any drugstore, I got it at Walgreens. I did try giving fiber powder as well but it gave my son painful gas so I'm back to just Miralax and its working just fine. We have very regular pain-free poops and Preston is a much happier baby these days. Hope this advice helps you. I have an article from Parents magazine about this as well and I can email or fax it to you if you'd like to read it.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

Poor little guy! I just took my daughter to the doctor a couple of months ago for constipation. She was having really painful bowel movements 4 to 5 days apart. So, we started putting about a half a cap full of Mirilax in her juice and that helped a lot. She is pretty regular now so I haven't done that in awhile. One of the things the doctor suggested doing before the Mirilax was giving her prune juice. It helped a little but we went with the Mirilax to really get her going. Now, if I notice it's been a few days I'll give her some prune juice or some raisins and that gets things moving again. Hope this helps. Good luck!

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answers from Bellingham on

We have had constipation problems in our house for over a year! I tried everything the doctor recommended, nothing worked well. The stool softeners helped sort of but they weren't a very good fix.

I was getting desperate and when I was told by my grandma to try diabetic chocolate I dove in, with high hopes. The fructose has a natural laxative quality, every bar and candy has a warning on the label that excessive consumption causes diahhrea. I figured what could it hurt, a little treat.

I started off small, 1/2 a piece (not 1/2 a bar but just piece from a regular bar) and her stool seemed a little softer. My oldest is 3 and I moved her to 1 piece a day and in 3 days she was pooping regular, no screaming and crying, no problem! It worked so well, that when my 1 year old started having trouble I gave her 1/4 of a piece and again, problem solved. Our doctor sees no problem in it, it's not addictive to the body and the small amount of chocolate to my girls is like a treat instead of medicine.

Give it a try! It's worked for a pregnant friend of mine as well. And if it doesn't work, (I'd try a week at least to be sure) no harm done.

Good luck and know you're not in this alone!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

In the 'old days' (like the mid 1950s and earlier) doctors would often simply suggest a lubricated, small finger gently inserted into the anus with just a bit of stimulation would get the movement started. According to my folks, this was done for my sister, and it made her life so much better. We did it for our son a couple of times when he was quite young, and it helped him. That said, here are a few other things.

You can try a glycerin suppository simply to get things going, if you want. Our pediatrician said to be very conservative about using these because the child can become dependent upon it and will hold the poop until they get a suppository.

Now on to what works for our boy from a dietary approach:

Try giving full strength juice. Apple juice is a great choice. According to our son's pediatrician, the sugar in the juice draws water into the bowels, thus softening and triggering elimination at the same time.

Applesauce and bananas are classic parts of the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast) which is for stopping diarrhea. You might try cutting back on those two things.

Try buying whole milk, plain yogurt and mixing in a little smashed banana or honey for sweetness and lots of high fiber fruit, like blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and peaches. I buy big bags of those fruits at Costco.

And, try to reduce the amount of processed foods you give him. I've been giving my son "whole" foods since he started solids, and he's had constipation only once (he's three now). What I mean by whole foods is like this:

Oatmeal instead of Cheerios
Homemade oatmeal cookies with raisins, prunes, dried cranberries, or whatever instead of cereal bars.
Yogurt prepared as above instead of yogurt with sugar.
Real whole wheat or whole grain bread, you know the kind with twigs in it LOL instead of soft whole wheat breads. For example: Orowheat Honey Wheatberry instead of Wonder whole wheat.

I hope it changes for him soon!

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answers from Oklahoma City on

My son has HORRIBLE constipation issues, and has had them for quite awhile (he's 18 months now, and I remember the first time being around 6 months). There are specific foods that can be more constipating. If you think of the B.R.A.T. diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast) when you are supposed to give to them when they are having diarrhea, then you know NOT to give that to them too often regularly. My son loves bananas and applesauce, but both stop him up! So when he does have diarrhea, its a great treat to give him a banana. :)

My son has now been on Miralax for a couple months. It does really help. I tried adding karo syrup to his drinks, as well as mineral oil, and those are more designed to lube up and make things easier to vacate the premises. :) But when the stool is actually too BIG, you need a softener like Miralax to help soften it up. My son will probably have to be on it for awhile. And I know exactly what you mean about "helping" him go...I've done that many times! The Miralax is tasteless, and you can put it in milk or juice. My son takes it without a problem.

Good luck!

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answers from Oklahoma City on

He may be holding it because it does hurt when he goes and he doesn't want to hurt. My 4 yr old is great at holding his when he doesn't want to go. When he hasn't gone & I think he needs to, I give him apples or apple juice. He loves granny smith apples! He usually doesn't have a choice after that. Peaches and peas are also great but most kids don't like peas. Juicy juice makes a fruit & veggie juice that tastes great & may help too, but it's hard to find. V8 makes a veggie/fruit drink too that my 4 yr old son likes. More fruits & veggies may help. Good luck!

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answers from Denver on

If he's sensitive to whole milk, he's sensitive to the sugars in it, which means that 2% will make no difference at all, as both still have milk sugars. You would need to eliminate all dairy to test this.

He might also have a wheat allergy.

Or both.

This is also a perfect time to point out to him repeatedly that this is his body telling him that he needs to manage to eat veggies once a day, too, and that doing so would make it not hurt him so. Pain makes an excellent motivator for change. I used to coat mine in ketchup to make them more palatable, but at least I was eating them.

The fiber won't make him more blocked up, though it's not a great thing to depend on that as his primary source of roughage, either, if you can do anything at all to change the veggie thing.

Aloe vera juice can help re coat the intestinal tract with a mucus like substance which can help with healing, but only if you can figure out what is causing damage to it.

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answers from Tulsa on

My daughter suffered (and still does on occassion) from constipation. She is 3 1/2. It got so bad that she got packed in (I think that is the term the doctor used), which would make her bowel movements very painful and large as well. When I took her to her pediatrician they prescribed her Miralax. (Sp?) That has been a life saver. It is a powder that you put in their drink. At the beginning I had to give it to her everyday until the "packing" was released... and trust me, you'll know because it looks like a grown adults. It broke my heart because she was screaming and crying. Now she has constipation every now and then and we give her the Miralax, half of what is written on the prescription, every other day and it works. She hates BM's now, but when it isn't as painful, she seems to be okay with it. If I were you, I would definitely ask your doctor about it. Also, I don't think Benefiber will constipate him. If anything, cheese and bananas will. So limit what you give him on those. And apple are a natural laxative. So see if he'll drink apple juice or eat apples. : )

I hope this helps! Good luck!!! I hope he feels better soon!

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answers from Honolulu on

I don't know how old your son is, as you didn't mention that. Oh sorry, he is 18 months old.

When my daughter was a toddler, we had to see a Pediatric Gastroenterologist... because she too got constipated. And constipation causes pain upon pooping, and if they don't go and hold it.

According to the Pediatric Gastroenterologist:
1) Kids this age often get constipation... and it also is the age of toilet training.

2) "Pooping" IF constipated, HURTS. Then the child gets anxiety... then the child will "withhold" pooping on purpose to avoid the pain that they got last time. BUT, this only makes the poop harder and MORE constipated... and more pain occurs from withholding it also. Then, when the child finally poops, it of course is hard/constipated and it hurts. Again.

3) Thus, it is a vicious cycle. And it then becomes an (a) emotional issue (b) a biological problem, because the poop gets hardened and constipated internally.

4) It all then causes Anxiety in the child about the WHOLE process and ordeal. Because by now, it has become an ordeal... for the child. A painful ordeal.

5) If the child is potty training.. and is not allowed to go in a Diaper.. the child's constipation and emotional anxiety about it, will get worse. So, let the child go in a diaper. Until it is overcome. Which can take a long time.

6) If constipation gets worse or continues and the "withholding" of poop continues... it can sometimes turn into "Encopresis." Which is an INVOLUNTARY leaking of poop. The child cannot control this.

For my daughter, we had to treat her with Prescribed things. The Specialist we saw... said that it can take anywhere from 3-6 months... for the child to overcome the fear of the "pain" from pooping... AND for the poop to become a normal consistency that will not cause pain upon exiting. The Specialist... does NOT recommend suppositories or laxatives nor for prolonged usage... because it causes dependence on it psychologically and biologically.

Just going to a regular Doctor, will not specifically address the problem. But a Pediatric Gastroenterologist will be more useful, because they specialize in it.

Al the best,

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answers from Chico on

Dairy, apple, and banana are all constipating; my 3 1/2 year olds favorites! Benefiber if your pediatrician says it is OK, should help. I saw an ad for some sort of gummy fiber supplements (the picture was broccolli in a bottle) if the benefiber isn't tasty. My kids love blueberries and grapes, which always get them moving. Sugar snap peas are also really tasty and high in fiber if you can get him to eat them. Make sure he's getting enough water, too. Maybe you can make the smoothie with frozen fruit and a little bit of honey or juice instead of yogurt?

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answers from Dothan on

I have been there before. My daughter had the same problem for a year. I nursed her until she was two and the cows milk and breastmilk combo constipated her. I had to give her Miralax in her juice everyday to make her poop everyday. My pediatrician ensured me that it is not a stimulant and is not harmful. Finally, after she turned two and I quite nursing her, she can go on her own. I tried everything before I found the Miralax. It is tasteless and odorless and dissolves in liquid quickly. I hope this helps.

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answers from Seattle on

I would give him prune juice, Raisens, juice, water, and fruit.....though limit the bananas.
Benefiber is good, on a daily basis. Try giving him soy milk or something other than cows milk, could be an allergy

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answers from Boise on

use magnesium, instead of laxitives like Mirilax. Try baby calm or kidcalm, you should be able to find it online somewhere.

Cut down on all those carbs too. Way to many. I know the food pyramid shows carbs should be the main food- they are wrong! The big food manufacturers who make huge mega profits on enriched grains are the ones who pay people off to help write those food charts. Don't be fooled. If you must do grains, try old fashioned oatmeal, not "just add water kinds". And brown rice not white. Brown rice has the b vitamins that help the nervous system, which is in control of the bowel process. Try to reduce/remove boxed cereals , cereal bars, and crackers. More fruits. Watch out for any added iron (either in supplements or enriched food) which will increase constipation and gut issues.
Also look up the benefits of "nutritional yeast" on line (not brewers yeast.)

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answers from Seattle on

Why would Benefiber constipate him? My suggestion, Miralax - the only thing that has come even close to helping my daughter.

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answers from Fayetteville on

For another veggie try baked sweet potatoes. My son thinks it is baked candy and will eat 2 if I will let him. You also need to check out Senecot (sp may be wrong) which is what we had to use for my niece since she had the same problem.

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answers from Baton Rouge on

As those have said before me, Miralax works great, and it was recommended by my daughter's pediatrician. She's been using it since she was 3 on an as-needed basis for us.

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answers from Little Rock on

Give him more fiber. Fiber all around helps the bowels. It helps for constipation, and it helps for loose bowels. It also helps keep the bowel cleaned out. Give him benefiber a couple of times a day if necessary. You can put it in his cereal, yogurt, just about anything and it is not noticeable.

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answers from Joplin on

i used to put some karo syrup( dark ) in my sons milk , worked well for us.

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answers from Portland on

I suspect he's holding it because of the memory of pain.

I suggest that you give him the stool softener everyday that he doesn't have a movement so that he won't be constipated and can realize over time that the pain is gone. When you wait 3 days he's already suffered. Your goal is to reduce the suffering by helping him to have a soft poop before the poop builds up in his abdomen.

Also give him the benefiber every day. Benefiber will not make him constipated. It adds additional bulk to his stool. Also, be sure that he does drink plenty of fluid. Without fluid, fiber can cause constipation. Perhaps this is why you're concerned that it could be constipating.

Do not give him dairy products or banana until the constipation issue is resolved. Both can cause constipation.

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answers from Chicago on

Prune juice always worked for us. Not everybody likes it though. You can dilute it a bit. It works well diluted too.

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answers from Detroit on

maybe a little prune or grape juice every day. i hope that helps

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answers from Detroit on

Just as a warning, bananas can actually cause constipation. My daughter had problems right after her first birthday, after an illness that had her hospitalized for a week. I gave her miralax, and it worked really well. Another thing that can help is giving him apple juice and fresh apples. Apple sauce can bind them up as well. Good luck.



answers from Modesto on

My 2 year old has the same exact problem! If he goes more than two days with out pooping, then I will cut out all dairy (milk, cheese, etc) and give him one or two sippy cups of fresh orange juice and then just water for the remainder of the day. The juice works within a few hours and softens his stool quite a bit....

I hope this helps a bit. :)

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