Need Help with 16 Month Old Daughter's Severe Constipation

Updated on May 26, 2010
E.B. asks from Asbury Park, NJ
32 answers

About the time I stopped nursing and started my 16 month old on formula (10 mo) she started getting constipated and had a flare up of eczema. I tried switching her to soy milk, then rice milk, and taking her off wheat. Occasionally I'll think its getting better, but lately its gotten so bad that a lot of blood comes out with her stool and its so thick and hard its like she's pushing out a baby. I've discovered that its hereditary in my husband's family starting from this young of an age, but I don't want to resort to laxatives like they did because my mother-in-law is suffering the health consequences of years of laxatives as a young child. Any kind of help or suggestions would be appreciated.

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So What Happened?

A new update--I switched my daughter over to almond milk and oat milk and that seems to have done the trick. Who knew rice milk could be so hard on her when that's all my other daughter could ever have.

I took my daughter to the doctor on Tuesday, and because of the family history and and how long she has been having painful bm's(5 months), he put her on Miralax. On Thursday she had another painful and VERY hard stool again. But, on the third day, my daughter finally had her first soft poop. It was still pretty traumatic for her and she cried half an hour before she had it, so I think she's going to have to realize that having a bm isn't always painful. But I'm now hoping that we can fix this with diet instead of with medicine in the long run. Thanks so much for all of your responses, especially those of you who had a more in-depth understanding of the genetic issues.

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L.R.

answers from New York on

Both my boys had issues w/ constipation- Avoid rice, bananas and toast. Also eats yogart on a daily basis helped my son tremendously- he would only poop every 3-4 days and since he's been on yogart he goes like clockwork (he's 2 1/2). You can put it in ice cream cones, mix in cereal or fruit, or buy the drinkable yogart. I found it to be theh most helpful thing.

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G.H.

answers from New York on

My daughter was about 18 months old when she suffered from occasional bouts of constipation. The best remedy for her was warm apple juice, sometimes while sitting on potty (good position to push it out). Even today at 26 months, I know if she has not had enough liquids, because she gets hard poops. We don't use rice milk, but I know regular milk doesn't count for liquid as far as my daughter is concerned. She has to have two or three ounces of juice or water a day to keep her stools soft. And by the way, she just loves prune juice. She calls it "coffee", because it is so dark. A couple of sips of that stuff, and she poops within a matter of minutes. Good luck.

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M.T.

answers from Albany on

E.,
My oldest will be 4 in Feb and he has been dealing with constipation since before he was a year old. We found that when he would start to have an episode, use the Kyro Syrup method (1/2 cup Kyro to 1cup juice). It would usually take a few days to go into effect, but would eventually work. For those times when it would be really bad, we would continuously give him fruits. Applesauce, grapes, etc. Definitely stay away from the bananas.
My son's case is a little more extreme because the final diagnosis was that his intestines don't retain enough fluid for normal bowel movements. Therefore we have him on a prescription that I have to give if he doesn't go after 2-3 days. It's hard, but try the increase of fruits, juices, and the Kyro.

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K.H.

answers from Buffalo on

OK....
I read through some responses...

First
YES CONSTIPATION IS A HEREDITARY ISSUE!!!

Usually it is most common in males.
There are so many reasons for hereditary constipation...
Lets give you some good information first..

The large intestine is not for digesting, it balances fluids, and rids your boy of the wastes. In order for the waste to pass freely, your colon needs to draw fluid to move it smoothly. In adults, polyps and other lining anomolies will interfere with passing waste. In children, it is primarily a fluid or neurological issue. I am saying neuro, not mental. When teh waste does not pass, it builds up much thicker than the smaller sphincters of the rectum are acustomed to, and you will see bleeding and severe discomfort passing these large stools. When they are not passing....the waste must go somewhere. Usually it is not a complete obstruction and instead of constipation, it appears to be diarrhea. What is happening is; some of the stool is liquifying behind the obstruction and seeping out around the blockage.

Fluid
Abnormally small ureters in tend to cause constipation in children. Especially males. This type of growth anomoly is usually hereditary.

Neuro
Having a lack of nerves to cause the bowel movement needed to move the stool along the large intestine will cause a build up, constipation, obstruction and in severe cases a perforation.

Hereditary disease - Hirschsprung's Disease or HD is the name used for the total lack of nerve growth to the section of colon or large intestine. It is the nerves just stopped growing and it usually detected very young, even just after birth. There is usually a history of downs syndrome or other chromosome disorders in the family.

Sometimes there is a reduced nerve size to the effected segments...caused by a genetic deformity or traumatic injury as an infant. It can cause a decrease in movement, or a decrease in the ability to draw the fluid.

For example, my daughter was born with a hereditary spinal deformity. It was not detected until the GI specialist sent her for an MRI, she was found to have bulging discs and scoliosis. It is so mild, it was never detected in xrays. But that slight misallignment caused her to have abnormally small nerves coming out of her spine in that area and affects her bowel and bladder. She is also incapable of feeling the need to go as strongly as normal people do, so if she feels it a little, she'd better run.

Her colon was incapable of sensing waste and drawing the fluid needed to egest the waste. She was constipated for YEARS. After a doctor found what was wrong, it was amazing how many family members were no longer embarrassed to tell me they had the same problem. After tons and tons of stool softners and laxatives, she was finally given something called Miralax....powdered odorless and tasteless. It makes the colon draw the fluid and poof she was regular! It is available over the counter now.

The majority of females on that side of the family, did not have colon problems...only the males, but had reproductive problems and cervical incompetence causing miscarriages (reason I lost my 4 boys)...and lower back problems. Usually when it is that type of hereditary spine problem, there is a history of scoliosis, spinabifida or more severe birth defects also.

Because there is a small amount of nerve ending, the bowel and colon appeared normal on xrays and the barium xrays. It is purely neurologic.

Do some research in the family medical history. You can learn a lot about the root of the problem. Also ask about hereditary digestive sensitivities...
sensitivity to rye, barley, gluten.....chocolate, high calcium and lactose tend to cause constipation also...

ask ask ask
If you suspect it is caused by a digestive sensitivity...
keep a strict diary of what is ingested...
right down to name brands.
It will help you see patterns.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful
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M.F.

answers from New York on

Hi E. my son had the same problem as an infant and also now as a toddler, now i give him 1-2 prunes every other day or so, there are the soft ones individually sealed now. You can cut it in half for her. (punes are also a great source of anti-oxident) When he was an infant I took him to a GI specialist who prescribed Kristolose, comes in a packet where you can add some to the milk , that was a miracle drug because after that he did not suffer from constipation until he was a toddler and started on whole milk. The Kristolose was on a short-term basis until his system was regulated again. What the GI spec. told me is that when a child suffers from constipation the bowel which is supposed to expand and then return to normal remains expanded so there is not rythym which helps keep the bowel moving. Hope this helps. good luck!

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A.C.

answers from Buffalo on

My Daughter had constipation after I stopped nursing as well. I Put 1 tablespoon of karo syrup in her bottles. It is something my gram told me. Also if she eats alot of banannas cut back and give her applesauce instead it will also help. Good luck!!!

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N.J.

answers from New York on

I blend/hide prunes in a lot of my son's food. It acually is quite tasty. send me a message if you would like some suggestions or concoctions that I make. My son is king of consitpation.

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H.K.

answers from New York on

Hi E.,
Since it's only been 2 months, , you might consider going back to nursing. You can find a local Lactation Consultant through www.ilca.org
Other ideas are remove dairy (all; also yours if still bf), iron supplements and certainly formula. She needs to have lots of fluids so she doesn't get impacted. You can try crushing 1/2 a Senakot tablet (OTC, natural) in her juice if she doesn't have a BM for a day. Check with your HCP about this before though!
Hope this helps.
Best,
H.

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L.L.

answers from New York on

Try giving her some prune juice mixed with water (in a bottle if she still takes one). She will probably like the sweet taste. Also, she should be eating alot of fruit (not including bananas). Hope this works. Good luck.

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M.K.

answers from Syracuse on

Gerber Pear juice works great for constipation, it is expensive, but my daughter used to have a major problem with constipation and it worked every time. Try lower lactose levels and keeping away from foods like bananas, applesauce, cooked carrots, or other things that tend to be binding.

Foods that you should encourage her to eat include; apricots, plums, apples, raisins, and pears, natural grains, peas, beans, broccoli

Another thing to think about, we used to have to give my daughter 1 tablespoon of mineral oil a day, mixed in her milk, which would lubricate the poop coming out and make it easier to push. I would ask the doctor for how much to use and how often, but that also helped my daughter.

Good Luck, I went through constipation hell with my daughter for months, but thank god it is all taken care of now.

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S.M.

answers from New York on

When my daughter was younger than yours she had horrible constipation. Her bowel movements would come out the size of ping-pong balls and would often tear her. It was horrrible to endure for both of us. Have you tried prune juice, apple juice/cider. I had to cut my daughter back big time on rice and bananas, and start giving her prunes every other day until she was regular. It took a couple of weeks. Make sure she is drinking water every day too.
Think of things you might do for yourself other than medication. Maybe she needs more whole grains or fiber. Hope something has been helpful. Good luck.

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O.O.

answers from New York on

Someone else had the same info as I. We used Kayro Syrup in the juice everyday. After a while the stool get soft and kayro is a natural remedy

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J.J.

answers from New York on

hi E.; you should first check out the website Kellymom.com, she has a lot of good information and is chiefly informed by some of the couintry's leading breast feeding specialists. then, try your local La Leche League; you can also find that group on the web. if you email me directly at

[email protected]____.com

i can try to put you in contact with Cathy Genna, who is local in my area but who is possibly the most knowledgeable IBCLC in the US. she writes textbooks on nursing. i agree w you that laxatives are a mistake for the long term but you may want to try something temporarily to give your daughter some relief while you find gentler, long range solutions.
don't rush to the doctor until you try some of these suggestions because a doctor will put you on medication rather than bother with any thing else.

there's no reason for your child to have forumula or soy milk at all if she eats even a narrow variety of calcium rich foods. if she eats yogurt and a few greens like kale or spinache, which you can certainly give her with butter to make it yummy, she will be fine. my children who are 2.5, and 9 months respectively, do not drink any kind of milk and we don't use soy because i actually think the fact that i was a soy-formula-fed baby is what gave me lifelong psoraosis. you want to stick with real whole foods as much as possible. a 16 month old child can eat any food that she enjoys that doesn't bother her.

try giving her plenty of fruit for a few days. my 9 month old eats only regular food (no baby food) she can hold herself such as cheerios, chunks of fruit of all kinds, vegetable sticks, peas, peppers, noodles, etc; and yogurt, and nurses about 5 times a day. she got constipated this week when my husband gave her a bagel with out fruit. i give her bread but only with fruit.so i didn't give her any starch for 2 days, only fruit and vegetbles, and now she's fine. and WATER WATER WATER, give it to her in any sippy cup or bottle she wants.

good luck!

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D.N.

answers from New York on

Hello, My name is D.. Mother of gio 5 and Sofi 2. We have had some constipation problems.... My midiwife had a few great suggestions. sometimes the constipation can be due to an increase colonization of yeast in the digestive tract. there is a great powdered probiotic mix called:

EUGALAN FORTE, 14 oz, BIO-NUTRITIONAL
this is dairy based

its soy conterpart
LACTOPRIV/B, Healthy Bacteria 14 oz, BIO-NUTRITIONAL

you can buy it online.. try using it until the box is gone(two scoops a day) and see if there is a difference. Another trick is giving food enzymes to help your daughter digest her food better. Some food enzymes are derived from papaya. papaya seeds taken like a pill also can help with constipation, lots of fiber. some homeopathics and teas are great too:

Traditional Medicinals
Smooth Move Herbal Stimulant Laxative Tea, Bags

http://www.truestarhealth.com/Notes/2215009.html

they also make metamucil cookies you can buy at walgreens.

buy some glycerin suppositories while you are there. they have childrens size. it is natural and can help when you know it's there but the child is holding it in for fear of pain. this is what my son and daugther do from time to time.. We call them the bad poopies. the ones that hurt. the glycerin also lubricates the way out.

hope these sugestions help. we also do lots of hugs on the toliet.. I think just loving them through it helps a lot. give it positive energy. it will pass, no pun intended. YOu are right to look for a path other than the road your mother-in-law went down.

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N.M.

answers from New York on

Hi
I had the same problem with constipation. My daughter is 19 months now. My doctor suggested prune juice or apple juice(babys juice I used) It helped. Whenever she is constipated I give her these juices and it works.
Good Luck. I know it hurts when you see you little baby crying from the pain of constipation.
N. (Pleasantville, New York. Mom of 4(22yrs, 20yrs, 17yrs, 19 months-Yes a big age gap-lol)

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Y.W.

answers from New York on

E.,
My son, who is a 31 month old King-in-training (or so he thinks), had the same problem. It turn out that he was very anemic. His pediatrician prescribe liquid iron for 1 1/2 months and chewable vitamins. He drinks 2% milk now. You may want to try giving your daughter apple juice (which acts as a natural laxative). Also a little warm prune juice or prune juice mixed with another more flavorful juice (which is how I get my son to drink it). I hope this information is helpful to you.

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S.M.

answers from New York on

Give her prune juice everyday. Try to give her lots of fruits and vegetable.

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T.M.

answers from New York on

you should ask your pediatrician about mineral oil..(its healthy and natural) the brand i use is kondramul...it works like a charm for my son...

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J.D.

answers from New York on

E.,

Take your daughter to her pediatrician. If the pediatrician does not have a solution, request a referral to a pediatric gastroenterologist.

While this type of thing may run in your husband's family, it is very likely that what is genetic is not constipation, but an allergy or a dietary intolerance to something. Eczema is very often a reaction to something that is in your child's body that it does not want there. Eczema is an auto-immune response, meaning that your daughter's body is identifying something in her system that is foreign and unwelcome, and producing antibodies. Since that thing is not a germ, it can't be removed via immune response, and the immune cells floating around end up destroying something in her skin layer, causing the flareup of the dry skin and rash.

A battery of allergy tests and probably some bloodwork will most likely be necessary to identify what's causing the problem. Bring something to reward and distract her. I recommend lollipops.

Good luck!

Jess

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I.K.

answers from Syracuse on

My daughter had constipation for a short while. I gave her lots of juice and vegetables no starches, or carbohydrates for a week. After her bowel started moving I gave her just fruit for the next week. Also a natural digestive laxative that won't harm is black seed oil, or aloe vera. It's worked for me and I haven't had constipation my last pregnancy. Fluids lots of water fresh water helps babies to naturally dilute the harshness of IRON, FIBER, and CARBOHYDRATES.
I hope this helped you at least a little.

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S.N.

answers from Utica on

I have a 12 month old daughter who has had constipation issues from about 3 months old. The doctor suggested that every night I give her prune juice. It takes three days for it to go in affect. So every night I give her about 2 sometimes 3 ounces of prune juice in her milk bottle. It has worked wonderful and she is able to go to the bathroom regularly. The docotr said she will eventually out grow needing to have the prune juice.

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J.M.

answers from New York on

Hi--

My daughter (26 months old) had similar problems with consistipation. I started giving her fiber one cereal (1/2 cup) mixed with her favorite cereal cheerios, and pieces of fruit, along with raising her intake of water. This helped her a lot--not sure if it will work with your little mom but I would give it a try.

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R.R.

answers from New York on

Prunes, prunes & more prunes! Good luck...

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J.G.

answers from New York on

My son too had a problem with constipation. It got so bad he held the stool for days because of the pain it would cause him. I went from dr. to dr. all said prune juice or pear juice mixed with apple juice. Nothing worked. Finally after 8 days of him not going, we had to get childrens fleet enimas. We had to give him one everyday for 5 days just to clean him out. Then we started on Myralax everyday. It is very gentle and does not give him any side effects. That was 4 years ago and he is still on the Myralax. We have tried to wean him off but he would just very hard stools and he would sit on the toilet and screams. I would'nt worrie about the problems your mother in laws is having. Medications are so much different now adays. The Myralax is very gentle and keeps him regular. Hope all goes well, she is in my prayers.

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N.R.

answers from New York on

wow what has her doctor said have you tryed lactaid milk
maybe she lactos intalarent
Enfamil® LactoFree® LIPIL®
Enfamil LactoFree LIPIL is a milk-based infant formula that does not contain lactose, for babies when lactose is a concern. LactoFree LIPIL has the goodness of milk protein without the potential problems of lactose. Enfamil® formulas have LIPIL®, our blend of DHA and ARA, important nutrients found in breast milk that promote baby's mental and visual development.

i used for my kids and thank God every was good ask your doctor
and good luck

C.S.

answers from New York on

I would increase fruits thus increasing fiber. Also, apple cider always helps to 'loosen' my kids up.
And I think a trip to your pediatrician would be a good idea.

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L.B.

answers from Albany on

It was a long time ago, but when my children had that problem we added about a teaspoon of Karo Syrup to each bottle. Have you checked with your doctor?

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M.M.

answers from Austin on

I am a grandmother of a 16 month old. I don't like her being on soy milk and want her to go to whole milk but we experienced the same thing you did with your child. My granddaughter was so constipated that we had to give her pedilax on a weekly basis. She cried and we had to hold her like she was having a baby. You are so right. It was very painful and hurtful to see a toddler go through this. This did not sit well with me and talking to different friends, I was told to add organic flaxseed to ALL her foods and liquids. It is tasteless and my granddaughter does not even know I have added it to her food. It makes a world of difference.

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J.M.

answers from New York on

FIBER FIBER FIBER! A 16 month old is not too young to start on raisins. Stewed prunes are another good choice. Start off with small servings to see how much she will need to get her bowls moving. Raisin bran is also a good source of fiber if you can get her to eat it. Fill her diet with fruit and vegetables.

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A.P.

answers from Elmira on

Hi E. - canned pureed pumpkin works great for constipation. I feed it to my 14 month old son if he hasn't had a BM in awhile, and it works before the day is over. Add in some cinnamon & yogurt to make a great meal.

But I think you should call your dr. first - sounds like there could be more going on....

Good luck -
A.

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N.M.

answers from New York on

You can try some simple sugar water. It works great! Or just feed her some beans like lentils or even add some fibersure to her yogurt or snack.

These are somethings I used and still use at times.

Hope this helps!

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S.P.

answers from New York on

Have you tried prune baby food? And a lot more water that she's been drinking? Stay away from rice and bananas too!!

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