Potty training is an exciting yet stressful time for toddlers and parents alike. As children learn the basics of toilet use, many families encounter a familiar problem — constipation. Potty training and constipation go hand in hand. Fortunately, there are several steps that parents can take to help their kids.
In this article, we will explore the factors that can cause potty training constipation and offer tips to help your child stay comfortable while being potty trained.
What Causes Constipation While Potty Training?
It’s normal for young children to experience occasional constipation while they learn to use the toilet. This is because they are still developing their internal processes, regulating their bowel movement, and learning to recognize when they need to go.
Potty training constipation can be caused by psychological factors such as fear of sitting on the potty or anxiety about toileting in a new environment. Parents might unintentionally contribute to the problem by applying too much pressure on the toddler to succeed.
The introduction of solid foods during potty training will also cause constipation due to changes in the digestive system. Certain medicines, such as iron supplements and antibiotics, can lead to constipation, so it’s essential to check with your doctor before administering any medications.
Finally, some medical conditions can also lead to constipation. These include Hirschsprung disease, problems absorbing nutrients, abnormal development of the anus, and neurological disorders such as cerebral palsy.
Medical conditions are rare, so always check with your doctor to first rule out the more obvious causes.
How Common Is Constipation While Potty Training?
Potty training constipation is prevalent — it’s estimated that up to 29% of children experience it while learning how to use the toilet and experiencing other potty training problems. This is a normal stage in their development, and it can be managed with the help of appropriate measures.
Identifying its underlying cause and finding ways to alleviate it is essential. By remaining patient and understanding, you can help your child master potty training stress-free.
Strategies for Helping Your Child Through It
The best way to combat constipation is to keep your child comfortable during potty training to avoid instances when the toddler refuses to go.
Create a Comfortable Environment
The potty experience should be as stress-free and enjoyable as possible to encourage success. Make sure your child feels safe and comfortable when you have them sit on the toilet by creating a pleasant atmosphere — you can use stickers, books, or toys to help make it fun. Using a potty chair goes a long way as well.
Make Sure They’re Eating Regularly and Well
Encourage your child to eat healthy, fiber-rich meals and snacks, like fruits, veggies, whole grains, and legumes. This will help their digestive system stay healthy throughout potty training. You can get this in more detail from their pediatrician.
Increase Fluid Intake
Drinking enough fluids is essential for maintaining regular bowel movements and achieving potty training success. Ensure your child is drinking plenty of water throughout the day, and offer other fluids like 100% fruit juice or herbal teas.
Encourage Physical Activity
Physical activity has been shown to help reduce constipation in children.
Set aside time to play with your toddler and engage in activities that get them moving, like running, jumping, and swimming. You can also arrange play dates to regale your baby in active play.
Use Glycerine Suppositories
If your child has prolonged constipation, glycerine suppositories can help keep them comfortable and regular.
Make Potty Time a Priority
Set aside time for your child to use the toilet. Scheduling regular potty breaks will help them establish a routine. Consistent, unscheduled toilet visits can also encourage regular bowel movements.
Praise them for their successes — even small accomplishments should be rewarded and celebrated. Patience is vital, so remind yourself and your child that this is a process and they will get there eventually.
Try a Stool Softener or Laxative
If your child is experiencing severe constipation, it might be necessary to use a stool softener or laxative for relief.
However, it’s not a long-term solution for resolving toddler constipation and can even be potentially harmful if taken in the wrong doses or too frequently. Always talk to your doctor before giving your child any medications — they will provide the best advice for your situation.
Don’t Get Angry
Getting angry with toddlers when they refuse to use the bathroom won’t help them understand why they shouldn’t be constipated and will only serve to create a negative association with using the potty. This can make it harder for parents to be successful in potty training in the future.
Being calm and patient can help the child overcome their issues with trouble pooping and peeing.
Don’t Let Them Strain
Pushing too hard in the bathroom can create an anal fissure and hemorrhoids, causing further discomfort. It might become difficult for your child to break this habit in the future if they become accustomed to having to strain.
When To Seek Medical Attention?
If your child is potty training and experiencing constipation, it’s essential to consult their doctor or nurse for advice on the details of stool withholding and chronic constipation. In some cases, constipation will indicate other underlying health issues, such as dehydration or food intolerance, so you should seek medical attention sooner rather than later.
Symptoms that warrant a visit to the doctor include:
- Fewer than 3 bowel movements per week in infants younger than 4 months
- Hard stools rather than soft or pasty stools
- Refusing to eat, weight loss, or prolonged irritability due to constipation
- A distended abdomen or vomiting
- Complaining of discomfort with bowel movements
- Repeated episodes of constipation, withholding poop, and painful poops
- Difficulty with toilet training
If you’re struggling to deal with your baby’s constipation while potty training, remember that help is available. Talk to your doctor or nurse and utilize the above tips to get the best care possible.
Potty training is a massive milestone for both parents and babies. It can be challenging, but with the proper techniques, routines, and patience, you can help your baby overcome constipation during potty training.
Be sure to help them stay well-hydrated, introduce high-fiber foods into their diet, and use positive reinforcement when they do something correctly. Above all else, be patient – potty training is a process that takes time!
With the right approach, your baby will overcome this problem and find success.