Month 20 Worry: Is My Toddler Constipated?
The most common medical concern for parents of children this age
What the Docs May Do
With regards to toddler constipation, your doctor may tell you to:
- Relax, moms and dads! Pediatricians will tell you to have a low-key attitude toward your potty training toddler. (Click here to read some of my time-tested toileting tips.) Revel in the successes and feel comfortable taking a break from the process if stress levels rise. A stressed-out toddler may well become a withholding constipated preschooler or school-aged child.
- Offer plenty of fiber-rich foods. Try to ensure that your toddler is passing soft, painless bowel movements. Your pediatrician will tell you to maximize the dietary fiber in your toddler’s diet. A child typically needs at least the amount of fiber equal to five plus their years of age. So your two year old would need at least 7 grams of dietary fiber daily. (A nutrition reminder: Fiber is naturally found in foods like fresh fruit, veggies, and whole grains. For an idea of how much fiber is in common foods in order to calculate your child’s daily intake, check the nutrition label on the side of any food package or check out this link.)
- Consider offering supplements and softeners. Of course, if your child is at a picky-eating stage, fiber-rich foods may not be her favorites. If your child’s fiber intake is falling woefully short, you are not alone. There are multiple safe fiber supplements on the market for kids (Benefiber being just one example). With this fiber intake, your child should drink lots of water! You may also need to add a bit of stool softener to your child’s regimen. Hard, painful bowel movements may signal a need for polyethylene glycol (MiraLax or Glycolax). Use this over-the-counter medication (an easy-to-give tasteless powder) with the guidance of your healthcare provider.
- Get your toddler moving. Be sure your toddler is getting plenty of exercise. Turn off that TV! Dance, play tag, play hide and seek, get outdoors! Toddlers are born to move (you’ve chased him around the department store, likely to his delight), and often don’t need much prompting to do so. Exercise is not only a healthy life habit, it is thought to make a significant difference in combating constipation.
- Track poop progress. Your pediatrician will take a toileting/pooping history at your toddler’s 18-month and two-year well-child visits. Many pediatricians will hand out questionnaires or ask simple questions such as, “Is your toddler constipated?” You might ask, “How would I know if my toddler were constipated?” The answer is a bit trickier than you might think. And those infrequent, hard, painful poops you’ve watched your child have may be more important to talk about at your next doctor’s appointment than you might have initially thought.
More 20th Month Help
Even the most confident parent has concerns about her child’s health and wellness from time to time. Learn more about which medical issues are most common at each age, here. (If you have any pressing concerns or questions about your child’s health, please check with her healthcare provider.)
- What was last month’s most popular health worry?
- Learn which medical question you might have next month.
- Here’s what else is happening with your child’s health and development this month.
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