Constipation is one of the most common health problems experienced by children. If you feel your toddler is constipated it is important you seek the advice of your G.P. or public health nurse. Constipation can cause discomfort and misery and if left unresolved it can become a bigger problem.
How will I recognise if my toddler has constipation?
If your toddler is constipated they will show one or more of the following signs
- Infrequent bowl movements
- Hard pellet like stools
- Soiling- this occurs when loose stools leak through
- Poor appetite
- Abdominal discomfort
- Behavioural problems
What causes constipation?
The cause of constipation is multi-factorial. It is often a combination of nutritional, physical and emotional factors.
If your toddler is filling up on milk during the day they may be missing out on certain foods including foods high in fibre e.g. fruit, vegetables, wholegrain bread, pastas and cereals which are great for preventing constipation. Dehydration can also lead to constipation which can occur if your toddler is not drinking enough water. For tips on a healthy diet click here.
A lack of exercise may also contribute to constipation.
If your toddler is constipated and experiences pain when passing a stool this could be due to anal fissures, which is a tear of the lining of the passing of the canal. This pain may encourage your toddler to withhold passing stools to avoid the pain involved. If this is the case the constipation is likely to worsen it is important that you speak to your G.P. if you feel this is the case.
What can I do to help?
There are many ways to help your toddler feel more comfortable. Keep your toddler well hydrated offer up to eight drinks per day this will ensure that your toddler is staying well hydrated. Ensure they are eating a diet high in fibre rich foods e.g. fruit, vegetables, wholegrain breakfast cereals, bread and pastas. Physical exercise will help the digestive system break down the food so try and get your toddler out and about as much as possible. Don’t rush your toddler to pass a stool when toilet training and make enough time in the morning for them to go to the loo before school or crèche.
If the constipation continues to worsen and there is no sign of improvements speak to your Nurse or G.P. about medication that may relieve the symptoms.
If you are worried about your toddlers bowel movements, please call our Careline for some advice.