Toddler Constipation Frustrating During Potty Training

Dealing with toddler constipation is very difficult for many new parents.  One of the most frustrating things is trying to decide whether or not your baby is having a constipation problem.  After all, the frequency of bowel movements can change several times in just the first year so that it can be challenging to know just when child constipation is actually present.  Plus, if bowel incontinence is discovered, constipation treatment options are limited by the fragile nature of the baby’s young body.  But, in order to best treat constipation problems in a young child, it is important to understand the potential causes as they will help determine the best treatment options.  Some of the common causes of baby constipation include:

  • Using formula instead of breast milk—formula is more difficult for the baby to digest and thus causes delays in the evacuation process
  • Changing from a liquid diet to solid foods—indeed, one primary cause of constipation during the first year of life occurs when transition foods are introduced to the diet.  The digestive system needs time to adjust and these new foods so have some constipation solutions ready when you are introducing solid foods
  • Withholding bowel movements—especially during potty training, stress or shame may cause bowel incontinence because the child withholds movements which is a common source of constipation

Sometimes, potty training itself is the actual cause of constipation.  In fact, potty training is actually one of the most traumatic times for your toddler.  Where once the baby could pass stool whenever it suited them—they are suddenly restricted during potty training and this can create some serious anxiety.  After all, constipation in a toddler or adult is common during periods of stress and potty training adds considerable pressure to the whole process of evacuating stool from the body.

Withholding a bowel movement is something that we all do from time to time out of sheer necessity.  However, this does throw off the entire evacuation process and may lead to stool becoming dry and hard.  If this occurs, it may be painful to have a bowel movement and even lead to anal fissures or tears in the anus.  This will cause more constipation and gas in the future because it will compel the child to further withhold bowel movements and initiate a vicious cycle that can be difficult to end.

It may be necessary to seek constipation help from a doctor when this cycle does not end in a timely manner.  Just as with adults, bacteria and toxins may build up in the body when you fail to address any type of constipation and thus allow these harmful substances to reenter the bloodstream.  A typical constipation remedy for babies is to give them prune juice or a puree so that you naturally induce a bowel movement.

Infant constipation problems are the sole responsibility of the parent when it comes to identification and treatment.  The baby cannot tell you when they are having trouble with bowel incontinence so you have to be aware of how often they normally evacuate stool in order to know if a problem even exists.  While toddler constipation is perfectly natural and should go away within a few days with the right treatment, it can cause serious medical problems so be sure to consult with a pediatrician if the child still cannot evacuate stool within 2-3 days past a normal bowel movement.

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