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Is your child finding it hard or even painful to poop? Doing the number two less often than usual? If so, junior might be suffering from constipation. It’s a condition that’s pretty common for toilet-training toddlers and school-going kids alike. Here’s a handy guide to all you need to know about constipation in young children.
Because pooping patterns and frequencies differ from child to child, there’s no hard and fast rule to determine if one is constipated. Here are some signs that can help you decide if there’s cause for concern:
Difficulty in pooping, or pooping irregularly1
Refusing to go to the toilet2
Poop stains on your child’s underwear1
Unable to control bowel movements3
Producing unusually solid or lumpy stools3
Experiences anal pain and/or has bloody stools1
Complains of tummy ache or is unable to eat2
Here’s a useful visual guide to gauge if your child is constipated by looking at his or her poop. Normal faeces that can be passed out easily should look like Types 4 to 6. Types 1 to 3 are hard-to-pass dry lumps that can cause pain.
Type 1: Hard lumps that look like nuts
Type 2: Sausage-shaped or lumpy stools
Type 3: Looks like a sausage but with many surface cracks
Type 4: Looks like a sausage or snake, and is soft and smooth
Type 5: Soft blobs with clear cut edges
Type 6: Fluffy pieces with ragged edges or mushy stool
Type 7: Watery with no solid pieces, or is entirely liquid
Some kids dislike being on the toilet bowl. As such, they hold back their stools and over time, this can lead to constipation. Here’s how:
Child refuses to go to the toilet.
Buttock muscles are squeezed tightly to hold back the stools.
Faeces is pushed up into the rectum valve.
Stools accumulate, harden and constipation occurs.
Children can get constipated for a variety of reasons. It’s literally quite hard (pun unintended) to pin it down to just one cause. Here are some possibilities:
Not ready for toilet training or unable to control bowel movements.1
Taking medication such as cough mixture and diarrhoea medicine that can cause dry stools.1
Feeling emotionally stressed by changes in the family environment1,2, such as having a newborn sibling.
Having a disorder that’s related to the colon, rectum or other bodily functions.1
The good news is, most children with constipation can find relief easily. For instance, feeding them fibre-rich foods such as fruit and vegetables, making them drink more water to relieve their constipation. Alternatively, you can consider supplementing your child’s diet with formula that supports digestion.
Another way is to encourage your child to adopt good toilet habits that can help ease the pooping experience. This includes:
Adopting a comfortable posture for their legs and feet while sitting on the toilet bowl2
Taking a deep breath and holding it while straining to poop4
Your child could be experiencing constipation due to any of the above reasons. The remedy could be as simple as feeding your kid more fruits and vegetables or introducing toilet habits like adopting a comfortable posture. But it’s important to visit your paediatrician advice if your child has any of these symptoms:
Finds it difficult to eat1