Toddler Constipation – Causes and 5 Helpful Remedies

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Toddler constipation can appear out of nowhere for some. Seeing your little one upset and not knowing how to help them can be a dreadful feeling. For a few toddlers, it is something that carried on from infancy. While you might be used to the unpleasant troubles of constipation, the dreadful feeling is no less. With toddler constipation being a common problem we might assume it is a normal stage that we must deal with. Though it is common, chronic toddler constipation isn’t a normal stage that you can’t find relief from. With remedies and diet changes we are often able to keep toddler constipation away. Here’s a little help.

The causes:

  • Potty/toilet training – some toddlers will begin to hold their bowel movements when toilet training as they are fearful of using the toilet. Holding in a bowel movement can cause it to become hard to pass and lead to constipation
  • Eating too many binding foods – bananas, dairy, processed grains can contribute to constipation
  • Food sensitivities or an intolerance – if your toddler is sensitive or intolerant to a food they might have difficulty digesting it
  • Dehydration – if your toddler is not drinking enough water
  • Painful bowel movements – having one painful bowel movement that can cause a rectal or anal tear can cause toddlers to instinctively hold in future bowel movements to avoid pain. This can create an unfortunate cycle of constipation.

– Take the Pressure off Toilet/Potty Training the idea of being diaper/nappy free is quite appealing.

Unfortunately, sometimes only the parents find this appealing while the toddler wants little to nothing to do with the toilet. When a toddler feels pressured to use a potty, they might begin holding it in. If they hold it in, it becomes difficult to pass and can be painful. If it is painful one time, they may instinctively hold it in again, creating a bad cycle of constipation. Toddlers might also feel uncomfortable using a toilet. If their feet aren’t on the ground and there’s a lot of space below, sitting on the toilet can feel insecure. If there’s any splashing below, that can also make them uncomfortable. If you believe toilet training might be contributing to constipation, there are a few things you can try.

First, be sure they are really showing signs of readiness. Toilet training too soon can cause unnecessary stress for both parents and child. If your toddler is showing signs of readiness, take things slowly. Let them take the lead and keep the pressure down. Finally, consider using a toddler sized potty rather than a seat on the toilet. When a toddler can reach the toilet with little assistance and feel comfortable when sitting, they might be less likely to hold their bowel movements in.

– Avoid or Limit Binding Foods

Toddlers are often experiencing a variety of new foods. Some of those foods can lead to constipation. Dairy, processed grains, bananas and other foods can be binding. Many toddlers weaned from breast milk cannot easily digest food. While dairy products from cows is a source of protein, calcium and healthy fats, cows’ milk is designed to be digested by baby cows. Little tummies aren’t always able to easily digest dairy products. Providing adequate healthy fats, protein and calcium for your toddler is important. If you choose to use dairy products to provide these, be sure to keep an eye on its impact on constipation. If you believe dairy is contributing to constipation, meet with a dietician to help you come up with a diet that provides adequate nutrition with limited dairy. Processed grains are often low in nutrition and fiber making them difficult to digest. Try to serve only whole grains to your toddler and limit processed grains like white breads, crackers and other foods like bananas. Bananas are a healthy but over consumption can lead to constipation in some toddlers.

– Make Sure Your Toddler Is Well Hydrated

Toddlers often get so wrapped up in play that they can miss their body’s signals. The signal for thirst might be ignored, or they might take a little sip and go back to playing. It can be difficult at times to keep a toddler hydrated but it is essential to preventing constipation. If you are breastfeeding your toddler, allowing frequent nursing sessions can help a toddler prone to constipation that is triggered or worsened by dehydration. Keeping a cup of water easily accessible might help your toddler stay hydrated. If they don’t need to stop playing and communicate the need for a drink they may be more likely to listen to their body’s cues. Offer foods with a high water content such as watermelon and cucumbers. These foods can help them stay hydrated even when they aren’t drinking as much as they should

– Offer Foods High In Fiber

Fiber is necessary for good digestion. Offering healthy whole foods diet can help ensure your toddler gets adequate fiber to help treat and prevent constipation. Some whole foods have more fiber than others. If your toddler is prone to constipation, here are some high fiber foods to consider:

Pears, Carrots, Whole grains, Apples, Beans. If your little one is a bit of a picky eater, you might have success offering a blended smoothie with some of the above foods. Adding fruit to veggies can help create an appetizing smoothie filled with plenty of fiber


Note: If your baby has severe constipation that doesn’t improve with these changes contact your doctor immediately.