Once you have a baby the “unspoken” topic of poop becomes an endless discussion with your spouse.
How many times did the baby poop today?
When is the last time they pooped?
What colour was it?
Did you get pooped on?
The list of questions relating to poop goes on and on and I’m quite honestly not sure if anything can make you feel more like a parent than poop can.
So why do we obsess as parents about poop?
Observing their “ins and outs” is one of the easiest ways to make sure your child is getting the nutrition and hydration they need. Your child will go through changing poop consistency, colour and frequency from the time they are an infant to childhood.
It’s important to monitor these changes in case you need to call your pediatrician.
· Frequency, colour or texture changes may indicate illness or dehydration in children and babies.
· Constipation is a top cause of belly pain.
· Constipation is also the direct cause of many potty training accidents (poop and pee), bedwetting, and (in young girls) recurrent urinary tract infections.
Symptoms of constipation vary depending on the child, but can include:
· Not having a bowel movement for a few days
· Passing hard, dry stools
· Having belly (abdominal) bloating, cramps, or pain
· Not feeling hungry
· Showing signs of trying to hold poop in, such as clenching teeth, crossing legs, squeezing buttocks together, turning red in the face
· Small liquid or soft stool marks on your child's underwear
Children (around potty training age and up) have a tendency to hold in their poop, which can trigger a snowball of events. If a child starts to hold in their poop (creating a large, har mass) their rectum stretches, because it is not designed to be used for poop storage. This mass also presses against and aggravates your child’s bladder, which can cause your child to poop or pee without knowing it.
Reasons your child may hold in their poop include:
· Wanting to avoid the pain from a hard poop
· Changes to their diet causing changes in poop consistency
· Unavailability of toilets
· Stressful events
· Being busy
It’s Crap When Your Child Is Constipated
Watching your child struggle can be hell on earth for parents. Not to mention a tummy ache on top of normal infant and toddler emotions can make for a crazy day. If your child is suffering from constipation you should seek help from your pediatrician.
Once the constipation passes then managing their diet should help prevent further episodes in the future.
Not sure where to start with helping your child’s constipation? Lets set up a 15-minute discovery call.
Until then, you need to know that the changes to your child’s diet to reduce their constipation can include:
1. Increasing their intake of fluids
Nutrition Nudge: For something new add berries, cucumber or herbs to water and let it steep for 5 minutes à homemade flavoured water
2. A balanced diet that includes whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
You can see my post hereon how to step up your family’s fruit and veggie game.
3. Increase your childrens fibre intake.
Nutrition Nudge(s) That Should Help:
· Go for wholegrain or seeded wholegrain breads.
Nudge à If your family only typically likes white bread, why not try the versions that combine white and wholemeal flours as a start?
· Choose wholegrains like wholewheat pasta, bulgur wheat or brown rice.
· Go for potatoes with skins e.g. baked potato, wedges or boiled new potatoes – you can eat these hot or use for a salad.
· For snacks try fruit, vegetable sticks, rye crackers, oatcakes, unsalted nuts or seeds.
· Include plenty of vegetables with meals – either as a side dish/salad or added to sauces, stews or curries
· Add pulses like beans, lentils or chickpeas to meals and snacks. Try dried lentils or chickpeas as a snack option.
· Offer fresh or fruit canned in natural juice for dessert or a snack.
4. Cut back on constipating foods including milk and cheese.
Non-diet related changes can include:
1. Ease up on toilet training. Added pressures could be adding to your childs pressure to hold in their poop.
2. Make sure your child is getting enough physical activity on a daily basis.
Constipation in infants and children: Evaluation and treatment (2000). Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition, 30(1), 109. doi:10.1097/00005176-200001000-00033
Constipation in children. (n.d.). Retrieved March 07, 2021, from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/constipation-in-children
Hodges, S., & Hodges, S. (2016, June 20). How much do you really need to know about your kids' poop? Retrieved March 07, 2021, from https://www.parents.com/parents-magazine/parents-perspective/how-much-do-you-really-need-to-know-about-your-kids-poop/