Constipation in Toddler

Updated on March 20, 2012
C.B. asks from Phoenix, AZ
18 answers

My 2.5 year old has constipation regularly. And it's so uncomfortable for her to poop that she holds it in. The last thing the doctor told us was miralax. This still hasn't produced regular stools it just made her poops drippy and causes her bum to be raw. Which also makes her hold it in. Please any advice on keeping her regular... Right now she goes one a week, usually with the help of a glycerine suppository. And it's so big at that point. Please help

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Water, water, water!

Think the "P" foods: peas, pears, peaches, prunes.

Also pear or white grape always worked well for my son.

No white bread--whole grains--in breads, pastas, crackers, etc.
Fiber in the form of raw veggies and lots of fruit. Oranges will help, too.

Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Indianapolis on

You've gotten great advice so far. The only thing I would like to add in (and this may sound a little gross) but you say she has drippy poop. What is happening is she probably has a very hard stool in there and from giving her the Miralax it's actually doing the job it's supposed too but it's leaking around the hard stool that is stuck in there. A suppository may help, but if it's too large and hard you may need some help getting it out. If this (the drippies) go on much longer without a good poop happening, you need to go to the doc.

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answers from Richmond on

Make sure she's plenty hydrated (water is best, fruit juices have tons of natural sugar). Make sure she 'exercises' and is active, this gets the bowels going. Make sure she's getting plenty of fiber in her diet, less cheese and dairy, more things like oatmeal, whole grain breads, and fruit, such as clementine oranges (2 of those will get things going!) Maybe try a little bit of prune juice, just enough to fill a shot glass/day. This works for my 2 year old (and babies!); lay her on her back and press her knees gently against her belly, keep repeating the motion, and make her legs do 'bicycle kicks'... again, the motion helps get things moving! My daughters are older, but for some reason pancakes and syrup never fails for them! A warm bath may help as well.

Hope your little one feels better soon :)

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answers from Dallas on

My son went through this too. My pediatrician told me that while she does not recommend miralax as a contant everyday thing, she did have me do it for 2 weeks straight to reset things. She explained that the end of the bowel can get stretched out after chronic constipation and this makes the cycle continue. so by making sure the poop stays soft for a couple weeks straight it gives the bowel time to recover its usual size, making future poops less painful. So I did that and it did work. I had tried miralax for a few days here and there and saw a similar result as you're describing, but when I just committed to using it every day for 2 weeks it did work.

The other huge thing I did that I think helped the most was I started him on a really good probiotic. I use Udo's brand, it says Infant and Toddler Probiotic. I put 1 tsp into his juice in the morning and he chugs it. I also give him vitamin D and fish oil supplements (the fish oil also helps keep things soft and flowing poo-wise) and those are gummies that he loves, so he knows he can't have them until he finishes his juice and its not a problem. I think the probiotic has really helped straighten his system out, and probably the fish oil too. As a bonus, he also only got mildly sick one time this year and he goes to school 5 mornings a week.

So my advice - miralax every day for 2 weeks (I used quite a bit less than the amount that the bottle says - I used about 1/4 of a capful in his juice once/day), combined with a good quality probiotic and fish oil.

As for the emotional/fear side of it, we battled that too but with my son it just took going 2-3 times and finding that it wasn't hard or painful and he got right past it. Sorry if you find this gross, but a couple of times I cleared everything out of the tub and encouraged him to go in a warm bath to ease it for him. Then I promptly took him out, put it in the potty, he got to flush it, I bleached the tub, and done. Worth it to me to help him not develop fear and anxiety while we got him straightened out.

Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Provo on

How's her diet? I personally think the food we eat has a much greater effect on our systems than anything we could take. If she is eating a good variety of fruits and vegetables everyday - and minimizing constipating foods (white flour, cheese, bananas) - and STILL regularly constipated - I would definitely be concerned. I thought we were doing pretty good - but when I really looked at it - we rarely had days where we were all getting enough. Even a 2 year old should be having 2 servings of fruits (I'd do more if constipation is a problem - fruit is easy with kids :)), and 3 servings of veggies. Very few people actually get all the fruits and vegetables that they need. Dried fruits are good too (dried apricots, prunes, etc.). Moving around and staying hydrated also plays a big part. If that doesn't do it (and I'd be kind of surprised if it didn't) - there are some medical problems that can cause constipation (certain medications, irritable bowel syndrome, etc.). I would not use any laxatives because that can actually, in the long run, make it worse. Good luck!!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

I'm so sorry you are going through this! My daughter has had the same issue basically since she was two. She is now four years old and I have had it with the whole Miralax thing! I went to my doctor and asked to be referred to a GI doctor. Luckily, we have a constipation clinic here and we are scheduled for March 28th. Some things I have learned along the way are banana's are constipating, milk and dairy products are constipating, and water seems to help. We have stopped giving my daughter milk except for once a week she can have one glass. We only let her drink water and then once a day she gets White Grape Juice 1/2 water and 1/2 juice. After my appointment I will let you know what we are told to do. I hope this info will help because I completely understand how frustrating this is for everyone involved.

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answers from Honolulu on

Take her to a Pediatric Gastroenterologist.
We took our daughter to one when she was a toddler.
The specialist said that ALL day, he sees kids like this.

It took my daughter, about 3 months, to get over that same thing.
It is not only about diet... but ALSO per the Specialist, "withholding" their poop is also an "emotional" based problem.
So it is 2 fold: a medical and emotion based, problem.
Of which, it takes time to get over.
They withhold their poop because it hurts. Thus is affects their emotions. Thus, they hurt more internally, because they are so constipated.
But holding it in, makes it worse and the poop becomes even harder, and harder internally and, harder for it to exit.

And, in some people they can get "Encopresis" from constipation.
Our specialist did NOT recommend suppositories, for children.

You best have your Pediatrician refer you to a Pediatric Gastroenterologist.
Because, constipation it is a vicious cycle, and it can cause, other medical problems.

Our Specialist never put my daughter on Miralax.
But did suggest whole foods and pear juice or prune juice etc.
Every situation is different, and depending on how bad your child's constipation is. Some kids become very internally backed up.

Do not give your child foods that are "binding"

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

A week without pooping is a dangerous situation for her to be in, her colon can stretch and possibly tear, a serious complication. I feel your frustration (and hers, poor dear.) Here are some tips:

Toddlers are notorious for having not-so-great diets that contribute to constipation. Go over hers with a fine-toothed comb and eliminate processed food, fatty foods, refined sugars and sweets, and bananas. Concentrate on fibrous fruits and vegetables, (prune, apple, pear, grape, broccoli, peas), beans, and whole-grain breads and cereals. Fiber Gummies help some, too, and she'll think she's getting a treat.

Increase her water consumption a lot, think water, water, WATER. Water down juices to get her to drink more if necessary. This will help the Miralax to work more efficiently as well.

Holding her poop is making her more constipated, though i understand why she's doing it, so encourage her to poop. If she's potting trained(ing) and I know it is difficult at best to poop train a constipated child, sit her on the potty at regular times each day to "try" and read her a story to keep her mind occupied and off her desire to "hold it in." If she's not trained lay her down and do "bicycle" motions with her legs a few times a day, and sit her in warm baths a couple of times a day to help her "release." (You can bleach the tub if she happens to go while in there.)

Increase her physical exercise. Toddlers need to be moving around (running, climbing, jumping) about an hour a day to "keep things moving," she may need more to get her system reset.

Here's a helpful article on constipation in little ones, cause and treatments:

Liquid stool is actually a symptom of constipation. If she is having "drippy" poop and not the majority of it, it truly sounds as if the Miralax is trying to work, don't give up but call her doctor and ask about changing the dosage. Miralax is not a laxative to make her go, it is to add water to her poop to make it easier for her to go. Water is essential to help the Miralax to work, if she isn't drinking LOTS of water the Miralax cannot work, can't stress that enough.

Look into the Pedia-Lax laxatives for children ages 2-11. They work within 6 hours with no cramping and may be more comfortable for her than a suppository.

Work on treating the constipation and regulating her system with lifestyle changes at the same time will help in the long run. And do ask her doctor for a referral to a Pediatric Gastroenterologist who specializes in treating children with constipation.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Just re-emphasizing something others have touched on - hydration is vital. My son had a lot of difficulty pooping, and we were giving him lots of high-fiber fruits, veggies, and grains. That simply doesn't mean much if the child is not drinking enough fluids (and my son was not). Once we started giving him heavily diluted juice (he won't drink straight water) several times a day, he began having a much easier time of it.



answers from New York on

You have gotten great advice! Athough Miralax is not a "laxative" it is not a natural way to cure digestive issues. You also should give her a bit of probiotics every other day. I usually give it to my son if he has bananas which really constipate him. Chocolate can be constipating for lots of kids too.



answers from Salinas on

1. sweet potatoes (i have been getting the frozen fries as an option).
2. The doctor as say prune juice for my 2 year old. My daughter will not drink it. I have been meaning to look up recipes I can add prune juice to so i can use it up for when she is constipated.
3. Give her food with fiber as a way to get to be regular.
4. remove food items from her diet that could cause constipation (banana and cheese for example).
5. Have you potty trained her recently? Some kids are fine with peeing in the toilet, but #2 can be different. My son used to hold it until I got a Pull-Up. He was potty trained at 2.5 years (in underwear for preschool). He never went #2 there, he would waiting until he got home. This went on for a long time.


answers from Lakeland on

Give her probiotics every day, you can find them in your local grocery store or in any health food store. I use the Culturelle brand, they are pre-measured packets that I add to her drinks. I would not use Miralax every day or continuously, too much is not good. Make sure she is getting a good amount of fiber in her daily foods. I did notice that cow’s milk and cheese will constipate my daughter. She loves both and at one time was having too much of both. Since I have cut back on how much milk and cheese she eats daily I have seen a huge improvement. She also eats other foods that contain calcium so I am not worried about her getting enough.



answers from Phoenix on

My son was almost 3 when he began withholding stool and I can really empathize with your feeling of desperation. I gave him a half cap of miralax morning and evening in his juice until his bowel movements became soft, then backed down to 1/2 cap a day. He was still only going every 5-6 days, though and crying for hours a day. I did increase his fiber and liquids as much as I could (pears, popcorn, corn on the cob, and other things he would eat). When he was in the most pain from holding it, I would put him in a bathtub of warm water with the water level up to his chest. Sometimes I would just let him sit and play. Other times I would gently massage his tummy. Usually, he would pass the stool while in the tub. Pretty messy to clean up, but worth the relief from hearing him cry from discomfort. He did get over his fear of pain every time he had a bowel movement, but it took a few weeks of soft stools on the miralax to change that. You might ask your Dr about adding Biogaia, a recently researched probiotic for children that has shown promise in helping with chronic constipation in infants and toddlers.



answers from Phoenix on

Hi C.,

When both of my kids (7 and 2) has constipation, I increase their apple juice (not from concetrate), graham crackers and applesauce. This usually helps them go. I hope that your daughter gets better with this soon.



answers from Phoenix on

Go to Sprouts or whole foods and get infant probiotics in powder, or Bio K plus (a probiotic) in fridge section in herb section. My son would get constipated and this worked great. Liquid magnesium could help too. Also, this chinese herbal brand has a pediatric line, and this works for constipation too:



answers from Philadelphia on

Have you tried apple juice?



answers from Tucson on

I would recommend increasing her water intake. Make sure she drinks at least three cups and try giving her oatmeal for breakfast. If she doesn't like oatmeal, Raisin Bran is a good one that helps keep you regular.

Good luck.



answers from Los Angeles on

I give my 2.5 year old sun prune baby food. He loves it and thinks of it as a treat! I think the one we get is by Gerber Organics. The prunes have always worked for me when he is constipated. YOu have to make sure she's drinking a lot of water with it too though. And is active. Good luck,

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