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Constipation in Toddlers

Constipation in toddlers is a symptom of them having digestive trouble, but it’s not a disease. Children, especially toddlers and infants, frequently suffer from constipation. In most cases, it is a normal condition that can be easily remedied. Constipation is defined as many days or weeks passing with no bowel movement or infrequent bowel movements characterized by hard, dry stools that are difficult or painful to pass.

Symptoms of Constipation in Toddlers

A toddler struggling with constipation may not be able to express their discomfort to parents verbally. Symptoms to watch for in your toddler are infrequent bowel movements, excessive straining in order to pass a bowel movement, fear of a bowel movement, or the presence of dry, hard stool. Especially be alert if you notice any blood in their diaper or stool, as this may be a sign of internal or external tissue damage as your child struggles to eliminate. Crying, fretting, indicating discomfort in their tummy area, or even avoiding eating can all be additional symptoms of constipation in toddlers.

Reasons for Toddler Constipation

Toddlers may be especially susceptible to constipation because they are usually toilet training in this stage of life. Toilet training, in some cases, may actually lead to constipation in toddlers because the child may purposely try to avoid going to the bathroom. Some toddlers may have an unexpressed fear of the toilet, fear of the flushing action, or it may just be painful for them to pass a bowel movement. Therefore, whether physical or psychological in nature, anything causing the painful association is something they will probably try to reject as a negative stimulus.

In the case where your toddler may be having painful bowel movements, it is probably caused by hard, dry stools that are difficult to pass and may be slightly tearing the sensitive tissue surrounding the anus. If this is the case, it is helpful to lubricate the toddler’s anus with Vaseline or to use a rectal suppository from a pediatrician. This will soften the opening and help the bowel movements move easier and with less friction and pain for your little darling.

Relieving Toddler Constipation

Hard, dry stools also can be a cause of constipation in toddlers. This is most commonly linked with a low intake of fluids and water and not enough fiber in the diet.  There are a number of ways to ensure your toddler is consuming plenty of fiber and liquids, and these habits will not only aid in relieving your toddler’s constipation, but will set their digestive health on a great path for life. First, begin by adding fiber to their diet to help prevent constipation in toddlers from developing in the first place. Healthy, natural methods of carrying this out include adding pureed pumpkin, sweet potatoes, squash, or carrots to their diet. These are high-fiber vegetables that, when pureed, are easily digestible and add bulk to waste. They are also packed with vitamins and minerals from which every toddler could benefit. Other high fiber foods safe for a toddler include oatmeal, apples or pears with skins, and berries.

Ensuring plenty of fluid is being ingested by your toddler is another important step in eliminating constipation. Water is absorbed by the intestines into the body, and some water is used to lubricate the intestine while some is left in the stool so it may be more easily passed. If a toddler is not receiving enough fluids, not only will stools become hard and dry, but their overall fluid intake may be lowered and they could become dehydrated. Adding a little water to children’s foods (such as when you puree’ them), giving a bottle of water in the afternoon and morning, adding water to fruit juices or milk to slightly dilute them, and having a goal of your child drinking 5 to 8 bottles or small glasses of various fluids a day is an important step in helping to relieve constipation. Avoid colas and other caffeinated or sugary drinks altogether; they just aren’t necessary and will start a very bad health habit in your youngster. In some cases, adding mineral oil to a toddler’s food or drink can aid in lubricating the intestines and will also work as a natural stool softener for making bowel movements less painful, but try the all-natural H2O approach first.

The Benefits of Bacteria

Adding beneficial bacteria to their diet will also benefit colon health and aid in ending constipation in toddlers. Beneficial bacteria, such as acidodolphus and bifobacterium aid in digestion and assimilation of food and nutrients in the intestines and also bolster the immune system. These bacteria will aid in the formation of digestive enzymes as well. All of these actions by healthy bacteria will decrease the transit time for waste through a toddler’s digestive tract, ensuring increased regularity in the bowels. Health food stores offer different bacterial strains and many are produced especially with the safety of children in mind. Plain, sugar-free yogurt is another way to help restore the beneficial bacteria population into the intestinal tract—this will also aid in any troubles with constipation in toddlers.

Constipation is a common occurrence in kids, but eliminating it can be done naturally and will help your toddler develop a lifetime of good health and regularity.

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