Toddler constipation is, unfortunately, not a rare thing. There are many reasons that toddlers become constipated, ranging from food to a newfound ability to control things including their body, potty training related trauma, and potentially a medical concern. Just to name a few! But before we get into some specific things that can help relieve constipation, let’s address what we actually consider constipation.
Symptoms of constipation
Not having bowel movements every day is not considered constipation. Having consistent bowel movements every day is our goal, yes, but a lack of them doesn’t automatically mean constipation.
Instead, evaluate if your child is having hard, pellet like stools, excessive straining, or pain or blood with bowel movements. These are more accurate signs of constipation.
How to Help a Constipated Toddler
Fluid to help constipation in toddlers
First and foremost, make sure you’re addressing fluids. Getting adequate fluid intake is key to helping to reduce constipation. Focus on water first, with milk and juice secondary. (Head here for tips to help increase water intake.)
There is no one amount of fluids that your child should get, as their level of activity and their environment will have an effect on how much fluid they need. Instead, simply focus on always having water available for them, and helping to remind them to drink it.
Fiber to help constipation in toddlers
Before we get into specific foods that might help, let’s talk about the general recommendation to get in an adequate amount of fiber. Fiber is found in things like fruits and vegetables and whole grains. (Head here for a detailed list of high fiber foods.)
Sometimes, these are the things that our toddlers find it hardest to eat! Work on offering high fiber foods whenever you can. You can try slowly changing out any refined grains (like white breads) you offer for whole grains to help increase fiber.
Even if your toddler doesn’t end up eating many vegetables, remember that fruit is an excellent source of fiber, as well as many other nutrients. Fruit is a great way to help increase fiber intake and many other nutrients, don’t overlook it in favor of vegetables.
Movement to help constipation in toddlers
Get your toddler moving! Helping your toddler to be active throughout the day, even if it means running in circles around the house, is a great way to help constipation. Movement can help their bowels to start moving, and is a great way to help constipation.
The best foods to help with toddler constipation
Now that we’ve got the basics of constipation out of the way, let’s talk specific foods that can help. Keep in mind, there is no magic remedy for toddler constipation. It is unlikely that one of these foods is going to all of the sudden turn everything around. But by incorporating these into your child’s diet, you can help them to get on the right path, and hopefully get them some relief!
Foods to help with constipation:
This list isn’t exhaustive, and there may be other foods that help your child’s constipation. Every child is different, and doing your best to serve a varied diet is going to be your best bet at helping to prevent constipation.
Dairy and constipation in toddlers
In some instances, you may notice that dairy contributes to constipation in your child. Dairy has been shown to be a contributor to constipation in some cases, although it is by no means the only, or even primary, cause.
I recommend being very cautious about eliminating dairy unless you are fairly certain that it is causing your child’s constipation. For many toddlers, dairy provides an important source of calories and nutrients and cutting it out can decrease their ability to meet their needs.
With that said, it is certainly possible to be dairy free and get all the nutrients they need with a bit of intentionality. If you find yourself eliminating dairy, I recommend grabbing the Grow Baby Grow E-book to help learn about the nutrients that dairy provides your child and some alternative options to meet those needs.
Have you found another food that has worked to help relieve your toddler's constipation and keep them regular? Let me know!
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The ebook designed to help you feed your child a nutrient-rich, varied diet! You'll learn all the nutrients that are important in the first two years of your child's life, what the best foods are to get those nutrients in, and how you can serve a varied diet to ensure you are meeting all of their needs!