How to deal with a toddler withholding poop?

Dealing with a toddler who is withholding poop is just horrible. Waiting for long hours for the poop to come and worrying about your little one is not a good strategy. There is help and a few simple steps you can take to make the situation better. It’s important to remain patient and show understanding.

While withholding poop for more than 2-3 days can lead to serious complications, early intervention and healthy routine can help prevent these issues. The most important thing is to help your toddler to develop healthy bowel habits and avoid withholding stool at all.

Why withholding poop is very bad?

While occasional withholding might not cause significant issues, chronic withholding can lead to several complications, including:

1. Constipation

Withholding poop can cause stools to become hard and difficult to pass, leading to constipation. This can create a cycle where the child withholds even more to avoid the pain. Check out the Bristol Stool Chart to determine how bad it is.

2. Bowel blockage

Severe constipation can lead to fecal impaction, where a large mass of stool becomes stuck in the colon or rectum. So, never wait more than 2 days without passing a stool.

3. Stretching of the Colon

Persistent withholding can cause the colon to stretch, making it less effective at pushing stool out. This can result in long-term difficulties with bowel movements and require ongoing management.

4. Urinary Issues

A full rectum can put pressure on the bladder, leading to urinary incontinence or urinary tract infections (UTIs).

5. Nutritional Problems

Constipation can cause a decreased appetite, leading to potential nutritional deficiencies and poor growth.

7. Behavioral and Emotional Impact

Withholding poop can cause significant stress and anxiety for both the child and the parents.

What to Do if Your Toddler is Withholding Poop?

If you suspect your toddler is withholding poop, it is important to address the issue promptly and consider the following steps:

Consult a Pediatrician

Get a professional evaluation to rule out any underlying medical conditions and receive tailored advice.

Implement Dietary Changes

Increase fiber intake with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Make sure your toddler is drinking enough water. Prepare healthy homemade soups.

Establish a Routine

Encourage regular bathroom times, especially after meals.

Create a Positive Bathroom Experience

Make the bathroom a comfortable place for them. Don’t stress them out. Use positive reinforcement and avoid punishment.

Consider Behavioral Strategies

You can even use reward charts to encourage them to regularly use the bathroom. Stay calm and patient to reduce your child’s anxiety.

Monitor and Adjust

Keep track of your child’s bowel movements and adjust strategies as needed. You can use a simple tracker or a daily toddler log.

    How to deal with a toddler withholding poop?

    Here are some simple steps you can take:

    1. Understand the Cause

    First and foremost, talk to them. Sometimes, toddlers withhold poop because of previous painful bowel movements. They might be scared of the toilet or the sensation of pooping. It’s very important that you understand why they are doing it. Talk to your child about their fears or anxieties regarding pooping and offer reassurance.

    Withholding can be a way for toddlers to exert control over their environment, so they can play for example longer.

    2. Create a Positive Environment

    Praise your child for any effort towards using the potty, even if they don’t poop. Ensure that the potty or toilet seat is comfortable for them. Use a footstool so they feel secure. Establish regular bathroom times, especially after meals, to build a habit.

    3. Diet and Hydration

    The most important thing is to ensure that they drink plenty of water throughout the day. This keeps stools soft and prevents UTI.

    Second of all, include enough high-fiber foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes in their diet. Prepare homemade meals and cut sugar and processed food all-together.

    4. Gentle Encouragement

    Make sitting on the potty a pleasant time with books or games.

    5. Avoid Pressure

    Avoid any negative reactions if they have an accident or if they resist going. Understand that pressuring them can increase anxiety and make the problem worse.

    6. Consult a Pediatrician

    If the issue persists, consult a pediatrician to rule out any underlying medical conditions and to get professional advice.

    7. Behavioral Strategies

    Implement a reward chart for when they successfully use the potty. Use these visual charts to show them how it goes easily.

    9. Consistency

    Be consistent with bathroom times and routines. Make sure, that all caregivers are informed about these issues and help.

    Remember, every child is different, so it might take some time to find the approach that works best for your toddler.