Toddlers and Constipation
Children of any age, including toddlers, can develop constipation. Constipation at this age usually means the passage of hard stool.
Constipation is treatable, and the earlier treatment is started, the more likely it will be successful. 40% of toddlers with constipation have had symptoms in infancy.
Frequency of bowel movements is not as important, because it can vary a great deal among normal children. Breast-fed infants rarely develop constipation. Most often they frequently pass soft stools. Formula-fed infants, on the other hand, can have hard stools at a very young age. All infants develop firmer stools as they get older. They also have bowel movements less frequently.
Diet has an effect on stool consistency. Fiber, vegetables, and fruit help keep stools soft. Cow’s milk can cause constipation in some children. Most constipation in toddlers is not due to any disease or serious problem. Constipation is treatable, and the earlier treatment is started, the more likely it will be successful. 40% of toddlers with constipation have had symptoms in infancy. So, if symptoms reoccur or continue they should not be ignored.
One of the difficulties in diagnosing and treating constipation in toddlers is that they are often not completely toilet-trained, and they cannot or will not tell their parents what is bothering them. Sometimes toilet training is disrupted by the child’s constipation. Parents have to observe the behavior and try to figure out what the problem is.