My 22 month old daughter holds in her poop! What can I do?

Jody - posted on 08/24/2012 ( 26 moms have responded )

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I need help! My 22 month old daughter has been holding her poop in for almost a year. When she feels the urge to go, she clenches her legs super, insanely tight and holds it in. There are times that she's gone 3 days without pooping. When that happens, I have to give her a suppository and literally pry her legs open and help her push the poop out. The doctor recommended mineral oil in her bottle which worked wonders as her poop just "slid" out but now she's not taking bottles. She drinks apple juice and eats some fruit but not a lot. And she screams every time I change her diaper now because she thinks I'm going to give her a suppository. She's clearly very traumatized from them. We need help!!! What else can I do?!?

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McKinney - posted on 10/11/2012

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We used Culturelle for Kids.....worked great. She used to scream every time she pooped b/c she held it in so long and it would become so hard and impacted. She still cried for awhile after we started using the Culturelle and Prune Juice, while having loose bowel movements because of the memories of pain....but after a few weeks of soft bm's is now doing fine and not crying anymore. We also give her a cup of prune juice in the mornings. She's 20 months. Lots of hugs and this sounds weird but one night, when she was walking in circles screaming and holding it in....we said "If you push out your poopy we'll give you a lollypop".........she went to the coffee table, held it for support and pushed out her poop 2 seconds later. HEY, if it works.....!!!!

Barbara - posted on 10/02/2012

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I have the same kind of issues with my grandson. He was born a month premature at 4 lbs 9 oz, and sometimes I wonder if everything developed properly. He lives with me and until he was 13 months he cried when he peed. Sometimes he would start crying and I could not find anything wrong, but as soon as he peed he would stop. I know for sure it was the peeing because there were times that I was holding him and would feel his diaper get warm. I kept trying to tell the doctor but I don't think he believed me. My grandson is now 22 months and has been holding his poo since he was about 7 months old - about the same time he started walking. I tried all of the natural options with no luck. He has been drinking straight water since he was an infant and he eats lots of vegitables and fruit. Every night we have things like grapes, cherries, watermellon or yogurt. He loves steamed broccoli, cabbage, and beans. I have no trouble getting him to eat. I also found him a high fiber cereal. I am trying to find a good dose option with the miralax. The doctor prescribed it when he was around 11 months old. If I give him the dosage prescribed he gets severe diareha, so I am trying to find a dosage that works. Sometimes it seems like it does nothing. For the past few weeks I have given him sepositories a couple of times a week if he hasn't pood. We usually get ready for bath and I would do it then. At first he cried and would fight against me, but I explained each time that it was medicine to help him poo so his tummy wouldn't hurt. That I loved him and wanted his tummy not to hurt. That I was sorry it made him uncomfortable. Now when we go in the bathroom to get in the tub he asks me if he needs medicine. He is still uncomfortable with it but doesn't fight me on it. His poo used to be very hard and he even has had hemeroids from pushing. It would just break my heart to hear him cry when he had not pood and to see him strain. I know it was his tummy that was making him cry. Now it is a normal consistency and he doesn't strain so much, but it sure is a lot. Sometimes I can't imagine that much would come out of such a little person. My daughter is 28 so he is the first child I have taken care of in a very long time. I just wonder if I am doing it right. I am always afraid that the sepository episodes are going to affect him emotionally. I sure hope this is just a phase and not something more serious.

Melanie - posted on 10/19/2012

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Start potty training... Put her on the potty 20-30 minutes after meals or as soon as you notice her clenching. She may be doing it because you haven't put her on the potty and she doesn't want it on her. My daughter hates pooping in her pull-up, but will pee in it all day long. If I don't take her to the potty when she has to poop, she will hold it in.

Miralax is gentle on the body. I do suggest giving her some to maybe help move things along. Just a tiny bit mixed with her favorite drink.

Maggie - posted on 10/16/2012

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Been there, done that! We tried for months to get my son to poop normally. Finally what worked was a LOT of praise when I wiped his bum and there was Poo on the wipe. He got excited about all the praise and wanted to get more. For a while he would just Poo the tiniest bit in a day but after a week or two he was going normally. You can't force a kid to poop, it doesn't help. We did give a little miralax daily to help keep things flowing but use a very small amount. We did 1/3 pack every morning for about a week or so.

Cherish - posted on 08/24/2012

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Have you tried putting mirlax in her juice?

You could also try fiber bars or fiber cookies.

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Joy - posted on 01/17/2014

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When my oldest child (now 20) was little and he was having a hard time going potty. My mother-in-law would cut off a small slither of ivory soap, let it sit in warm water for just a moment and then insert like a suppository. I thought she was crazy at first but it really did work well, with in minutes he was pooping. Wishing you the best of luck.

Jesse - posted on 01/14/2014

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Please see side effects of Miralax- quick google search will give you the risks.

Jesse - posted on 01/14/2014

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My wife and I are having the same issues with our 4 yr old. I've seen several people mention Miralax, which our Ped recommended also. PLEASE be careful with this. Everyone says it's so safe, but it had a very noticeable impact on my daughters behavior. So much so that we googled side effects of Miralax and TONS of negative side effects are noted in kids. In fact, it isn't even FDA approved for use in kids and is only suggested in SMAlL doses for adults. Many Peda recommend using this I very high doses, and while it works, it could have serious side effects on their physical AND mental health. I don't want to sound preachy, but please don't use Miralax with a blind eye to the risks. We've tried just about everything on this board and still struggling - I think much of it is psychological... Wish you all the best.

Peggy - posted on 10/10/2012

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Flaxoil. I make muffins and add it in, but I also add it to her milk when she has issues.

Toni - posted on 10/09/2012

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my dd did this for months, one day I bought some golden kiwi fruit, she ate 3 and hasn't had a problem since. I also get kiwi crush fruit juice for the days she won't eat the fruit. Seriously it was so quick to fix it and she was doing the whole one poo a week taking 6 hours and screaming the whole day to get it out.

Sandra - posted on 09/26/2012

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Miralax is wonderful. It doesnt make them go it just softens it up so they can't hold it in. My ped reccommened it for my son. No problems since then..

Lesley - posted on 09/25/2012

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I went through something similar with my 3 year old daughter. She was diaper-less during the days at 2 and during the nights at 3. She was totally fine - never wet the bed and toilet-teaching went smoothly. BUT she liked to poop 'privately' in her diaper and when she had no diapers, she too, tended to hold it in and go for 2 - 3 without going.



When doing something that's supposed to happen naturally becomes un-natural, it can be stressful. I'd say, for now, take a step back and try to de-focus from the problem. Try to take a more neutral approach. Make sure she's getting enough fibre and liquids and exercise (could you mix a little mineral oil in her food). I'm not sure the benefits of extended mineral oil use, but if it gets her over the fear of pooping, then I'd say it's a trade off. If she's afraid of suppositories, I'd say don't use them - they may ultimately be counter-productive.



I think the approach is as important than the rest. Maybe get a book about toilet teaching and talk about the 'routine' aspect. Here is where we go pee and poo. When we feel like we need to make a poo, we got sit on the toilet (potty) and wait. Here's a book we can read while we're going. I guess, overall, make it a more positive experience but don't go overboard either. Elimination is just part of life, and taking a more neutral approach is probably best.



I remember feeling upset when my daughter would say her tummy hurt and run around the house and I'd say, "Well, go poop then!" in some exasperation. It is stressful! But she'll grow out of it and develop her own routine. It'd say encouragement is best. Good luck!

Jenna - posted on 09/20/2012

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Our daughter always had problems pooping -- just what she ate wasn't working.



What I found works for both of our kids is about 7-9g of fiber each day. That means 6 fig newton 100% whole grain triple berry bars -- they love them! or 2-3 Nutri-Grain bars. Raisins are also high in fiber.



This, amazingly, works like a charm. Apple juice too, but 9g of fiber a day for kids is the big winner for normal poop.

Caylynn - posted on 09/18/2012

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seriously same prob eventually is what it turned into but my daughter had horrible const. issues and it went on for months and months but trust me girl she went like 5 nd 6 days without going many hospis trip got so bad it hurt her to go so then she would hold it i still give them to her but she eats fiber one chocolate granola bars or whatever and a chewable pedialax she has to go sooner or later,,,.....and she did but now just does her thing but do not give your child miralax that what PEDIA lax is for...kids mira lax would be way tooooo strong make your baby sick just so you know good luck i know its hard now but as time goes on it gets easier. let her pig out like crazy on watermelon cantelope cherries etc im telling you it gets bettersometimes i had to give my girl 2 1/2 pedia lax pills it worked

Ginny - posted on 09/17/2012

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It's a vicious cycle: it hurts to poop, so the child holds it in, which makes the poop become impacted and hurt worse when they get to the point where it can't be held in any longer. They can have leakage when softer poop leaks around the impacted stool, which is hard to deal with when the child is no longer in diapers.

I dealt with this for many years with my oldest, who is now 8. It's extremely frustrating and can be heartbreaking when they are sitting there crying because it hurts to do something that should be so easy. Run it by your pediatrician, but we used Miralax daily for my son for several years. It's a mild stool softener, and just a small amount in some juice every day makes it come out more easily. Make sure she has lots of fruit and veg in her diet, too, even if you have to puree it and hide it in other foods that she does like to eat. Brittney is right, once you can get it to the point where it doesn't hurt to poop, she'll eventually be less likely to hold it in so long.

Brittney - posted on 09/15/2012

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fiber supplements may help, once she can go without pain, maybe you can get somewhere.

Laura - posted on 09/07/2012

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22 mo is kind of young to get to understand some things, but try repeatedly explaining to her in ways she might understand that her poop is the yucky parts of her food that her body doesnt want, and needs to get rid of.... some children see their poop as , well...basically, a part of their body (like an arm or leg) and are afraid to get rid of it.

Jessica - posted on 09/05/2012

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Miralaxk works wonders. I bet you would only have to do it every day for a little while and let her get comfortable with pooing again. My daughter was on it everyday and never noticed it in her juice at all ( I do not water it down when I put the miralax in it though)

Michelle - posted on 09/02/2012

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A prune for breakfast and then I have had my boys sit on the potty when it is that "time" (normally after a meal) and they like to look at toy catalogs, lego magazines etc. they will stay on there for 15-20 mins and even stay on after they have gone as they are enthralled in the book/magazine etc. Good luck!

Marita - posted on 08/25/2012

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Also, if she is becoming traumatized by the suppositories, don't use them and allow her to throw them in the trash and explain to her they will be going bye bye. you can also start adding more fruits and vegetables by pureeing them into the food that she does eat. I have a picky eater and i puree vegetables and certain meats in to mac & cheese, pasta, etc.

Marita - posted on 08/25/2012

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Put the mineral oil into her food and mix well. Try Mac & Cheese or something along those lines. It will disguise it well.

Jody - posted on 08/24/2012

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She drinks a ton of water. Maybe I'll just have to call the doctor and get a recommended dosage for Miralax. I just didn't want it to be something she was dependent on. But it sounds like its not. And I'll try prune juice for sure, and try and stuff as much fruit in her as I can. :). She's super picky but is starting to get more adventurous. Thank you all for the help. This is so unusual for us as our oldest had no problem whatsoever... And us literally having to pry her legs open and even put pressure near her little area to get it out is not okay. :(

Amber - posted on 08/24/2012

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Yeah we only used it for a few months until he was potty trained and we were also giving him a gummy vitamin with fiber and pear juice from the baby isle! Also make sure they get a lot of water! And limit their banana intake! They can be constipating!

Lynne - posted on 08/24/2012

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I had the same issue with my son for a little while. My pediatrician told us that some kids are more likely to be constipated than others and admitted that her youngest son is one of those. She has given her some a dose of miralax everyday for 3 years to keep him from having issues. She recommends it because it is non-habit forming. I used it for a few months until he realized it didn't hurt to poop and now I make sure he gets a fruit (he won't a single vegetable) with every meal. My niece was on miralax for 2 years until they were able to get her to eat her fruits and veggies regularly.

Amber - posted on 08/24/2012

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My son was 2.5 when we had our third son who is now 7months old. We were working on potty training before we had our third child so my 2 yr old knew he wasnt supposed to poop in his diaper,however, he was also afraid to poop on the potty, he would hold his poop in for a week at times and sometimes longer!! whenever he had to go his tummy would hurt and it was a big ordeal where I had to hold his legs and help him. After we took him to the dr's several times and he had x rays and was also put on a lactose free diet to rule out any other problems we found out it wad completely psychological. The dr. prescribed him a half a cap full of miralax once a day and after we started that he had no choice but to go. Sometimes once a day was too much though so we would adjust accordingly and skip days if necessary. Now thay he is potty trained and going on the potty we havent had any problems!

Jody - posted on 08/24/2012

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I haven't tried Miralax. How often would I do that? Because when she's regular, she would go every day. I'd really hate to have to give her Miralax every day. :( this is so frustrating!

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