How to Prevent Constipation in Babies and Toddlers

There is a list of things nobody ever told you about becoming a parent before being blessed with the greatest gift ever. One of those things, and surprisingly near the top of the list is how attentive and caring you would be toward your tiny human’s bowel movements.

Yes. Poop. Proper bowel movements are a sign of good health. You can tell what is ailing your tiny minion by taking a look at their poops (hopefully in an appropriate place), and by the consistency of their bowel movements.

To complicate matters, what constitutes as “being regular” depends what age your baby is and their diet. Luckily, constipation, although having many possible causes, is usually pretty easy to cure at home.

What is Considered Normal for Infants

Normal bowel movements for infants vary with age and depends on whether you are breastfeeding or formula feeding your baby.

Breastfed babies less than one month of age should poop about once a day. After one month, your exclusively breastfed baby may go several days between movements. As long as your little one is frequently urinating, there is no need to worry.

Formula-fed babies usually poop once a day but may go two days without any problems.
Babies have to work hard for a bowel movement because they are working without the benefit of gravity. Excessive straining and turning red in the face is typical, and not a sign of constipation in infants.

There are a few causes for concern of constipation in children of this age. First, they may be straining for more than 10 minutes without any poo prize. Second, they may become excessively fussy, have been spitting up, or the stool appears abnormal, i.e., hard, dark, or has blood.

You know your baby best, so if you believe something is off, don’t hesitate to consult your pediatrician.

Normal for 6 to 12 Months Old

In infants six months of age and up to one year, there are a few natural remedies to consider. You can try to give them one ounce of 100% undiluted juice (up to 4 oz) in 24 hours.

Use the one-ounce of juice per year of life rule. Apple or pear juice works well. When your little one poops, you can stop giving them the juice. If there is no improvement within 24 hours, call the doctor.

Children over one year of age usually have about one bowel movement a day, some more and some less, depending on the individual child.

Constipation is generally defined when your child has less than three bowel movements per week, the stools are dry and hard, and are difficult to pass.

Several other symptoms include tummy aches, cramping, stool marks in the underwear, and poor appetite. Some may also try to hold their bowel movements by crossing their legs or squeezing their little cheeks together.

Causes of Constipation

Causes of constipation in older children can vary. A diet that is low in fiber and high in fat can cause constipation, as well as not drinking enough water. If there has been a change in diet, this can also lead to constipation.

If you just weaned your baby from breastmilk to solid foods, there may be an adjustment period.

Physical Activity

Lack of physical activity can be another cause of constipation. When your child gets a proper amount of exercise, this moves the food through the digestive system.

Sometimes your child is too “busy” to stop playing to bother themselves with going to poop- holding it in causes constipation.

Emotional Causes

And, let’s not forget the emotional issues that come with potty training. Your child could be stubborn and be exerting his control issues through his (or her) refusal to poop.

They could have a fear of public toilets and hold it in (I still know adults who do this). They could also be feeling stressed out about school, family, and friends, which could lead to irregular bowel movements.

Physical Causes

In rare cases, constipation may be the sign of a more significant underlying problem. These problems may involve the nervous system, thyroid, and gut.

Digestive system issues may include problems with the intestines and rectum. Also, some medications may cause constipation.

If you suspect a physical problem may be the cause of your child’s constipation, a visit to the doctor is in order.

Fixing and Preventing Constipation

The good news is, most problems regarding constipation can be fixed with diet and exercise.

First, an ample amount of activity gets the digestive tract doing its job.

Second, a diet high in fiber and fluids will go a long way with both preventing and fixing constipation.

Third, fluid intake should increase with age. Even though apple, pear, or prune juice is recommended to help with constipation, it should be limited to ½ cup per day. Try to offer water throughout the day, and it is a good idea to keep a water bottle handy for them to sip on when they get thirsty.

I like the idea of giving children water bottles because it keeps parents from having to be the waitress and get someone a drink every five minutes.

It also cuts down on spills and allows toddlers to have more independence. It also helps with more frequent urination, so you can practice using the potty!

Boys and girls have different recommended guidelines for fluid intake per age range For example, teenage girls should have about 7 cups of water while teenage boys should have a bout 10 cups.

Appropriate fluids for children include breastmilk, milk, juice, and water. It is not recommended to provide soda or caffeine.

Fluid Recommendations

There are different water recommendations for children of different ages, mainly because children grow so fast during this time!

  • 1 to 3 year old children should have about 4 cups of fluid daily.
  • 4 to eight year old children should have about 5 cups daily.
  • 9 to 13 year old children should have about 6 to 7 cups each day.

If people are left to let their thirst guide them, they usually have no problem fulfilling their fluid intake requirement.

High Fiber Foods

In addition to proper fluid intake, it is also recommended to eat high fiber foods to cure and prevent constipation. Fruits and vegetables are an excellent source of fiber. There are ways to sneak in a little extra fiber to meals.

Fruits and Vegetables

Adding chopped berries, carrots, apples, nuts, etc. when making muffins, bread, and pancakes and tossing in vegetables to pizza, casseroles, and pasta sauces, and adding sliced fruit or berried to hot or cold cereals are just a few examples. You can also leave on the skins and peels of fruits and vegetables to get the most fiber from your produce.

Whole Grains

Try to select whole wheat or whole grains when picking loaves of bread, cereals, and grains. They can also be mixed into dips, yogurt, or burger patties if you need to be sneaky about adding fiber to the diet.

Keep in mind that meat, poultry, and fish do not contain any fiber. However, they are an important part of a well-balanced diet.


However, common meat substitutes such as kidney beans, black beans, navy beans, chickpeas, and lentils are an excellent source of fiber.

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts, seeds, and different types of nut butters also provide some fiber, though not as much as beans.

Reinforcing Bathroom Time

If you are still having constipation troubles with your child, or need a little extra reinforcement besides diet and exercise, consider having an earlier breakfast. This will give your child a chance to have a bowel movement before they leave for school.

Making a routine for toileting is also suggested. Sitting on the potty for ten minutes after a meal can normalize the need to poop, and where poop should go if you are potty training.

Reward System

Your tiny minion should not be forced or reprimanded for not going, but poop time should be a pleasant time. Consider a reward system or posters with stickers to track progress.

Consult your Physician

It is important to use laxatives or any other remedy with your pediatrician’s guidance. Welcome to parenthood, you are now a poop (and lack of poop) expert.