Ready for a riddle?  What’s one thing that everyone does, but no one wants to talk about; is never considered polite dinner conversation; and would embarrass even the strong at heart if brought up in public?  A good old-fashioned BM!  Well, here’s a little-known secret…everybody poops!  Then why are we so afraid to ask about it when something goes wrong?  So, here it is, the scoop on poop and how to help your little one navigate the ups and downs of their bathroom experiences!

Constipation

Constipation can be a traumatic and painful experience for a little one, but they are not alone.  Many children experience constipation.  This condition is caused by the slow movement of fecal matter through the colon.  When fecal matter spends too much time in the colon, excessive water is pulled out and it becomes hard, dry, and difficult to pass.

What can you do to help prevent constipation?

Focus on Fiber

Calculate the amount of fiber your child needs by taking their age and adding 5. The answer you get is the number of grams of fiber your child should consume each day.  Fiber is easily found in whole grains, beans and legumes, and fruits and vegetables, such as berries, pears, plums, and artichokes.  Also, check the Nutrition Facts Panel to find out how much fiber is in your child’s favorite foods!

Add Water

To prevent the retention of water from the colon, make sure your child is consuming enough water for their age. Keep in mind water needs increase based on physical activity and weather, too!  If your child is busy running, jumping, playing, and sweating in the summer months, make sure they replenish the fluids they lose.  Find their water recommendation below:

Age Water
4-8 years 5 cups/day
9-13 years 7-8 cups/day
14-18 years 8-11 cups/day
Don’t Hold It!

A common problem with children is ignoring the urge to go! No one wants to be interpreted when they are busy having fun, and your kids are no exception.  When you see signs that you child is avoiding the toilet, take a rest period from play and allow every to get a drink, visit the bathroom, or take a breather.  Your child will feel more comfortable knowing that they won’t miss out on the fun and won’t be singled out for going to the bathroom.

Avoid Cheese, But Offer Yogurt

Excess cheese in the diet often acts as a binder, causing constipation. If your child eats cheese frequently, try replacing one serving of cheese with a ½ cup of yogurt or kefir.  This will cut down on the amount of cheese they are consuming, add a bit of gut-loving probiotics to aid gut health, and help them reach their 2 ½ cup per day dairy requirement.

Promote More Physical Activity

Slow bowels are often due to a lack of physical activity. Children should get about an hour of physical activity a day.  Make a point to get up and move with your kids whether stuck in the house or enjoying the outdoors.  Try taking a walk, playing catch, or having a dance party!

Diarrhea

Diarrhea is an opposite, but equally uncomfortable experience for your child.  Diarrhea is often due to an imbalance in the happy bacteria in your child’s gut or the amount of water left in the intestine.

What can you do to help prevent diarrhea?

Limit Juice

Juice is considered to have a high osmolarity beverage due to the amount of simple sugars dissolved in the solution. When consumed in excess, the high amount of solute that enters the gut will force the movement of water from the body into the intestine.  The gut fills with water that must be eliminated, causing diarrhea.  Thus, juice intake should be limited to help prevent your child from suffering from diarrhea and limit simple sugar intake.

Age Juice
0-12 months No fruit juice
1-3 years Up to 4 ounces/day
4-6 years 4-6 ounces/day
7-18 years Up to 8 ounces/day
Be a BRAT!

The BRAT diet is recommended for children with diarrhea. These foods won’t further upset your child’s stomach and will help slow down the movement of food and fluid through their intestines, minimizing more diarrhea.

B = Bananas

R = Rice

A = Applesauce

T = Toast

Offer a Bit of Yogurt

Again, the happy bacteria in foods like yogurt and kefir will help balance your child’s gut environment and will help avoid diarrhea and constipation in the future.

If all else fails and your child’s constipation or diarrhea persists, don’t hesitate to see you doctor.  More serious causes of these conditions result from allergies, health complications, and reactions to medications.

At the end of the day, we are all doing our best. Don’t give up. Love yourself. And #eatthechocolate.