What to Do When Your Child Holds Their Poop

Apr 7, 2020
What to Do When Your Child Holds Their Poop

Before becoming a parent, did you ever think you’d be so obsessed with someone else’s poop? Parenthood is a wild and crazy journey and “number twos” are only part of the fun. All jokes aside, your child’s poop is important to monitor because “stool withholding” is common among children who are potty training. Let’s dig deeper into this common issue.

As strange as it seems, your child may reach a phase when they simply refuse to poop. Why would they do this you may ask? More than likely it’s because pooping is painful for them, even though holding it can cause pain too (poor babies). Also, when children are in potty training mode, everything is new and different on the toilet, including passing a stool. For them, it makes more sense to hold it in, especially if they’ve gotten used to training pants

Since pooping regularly is super important, you’ll need to know what to do when your child holds their poop because it’s likely to happen. Take note of when their last bowel movement was and try to detect a pattern, if possible. If days go by without one, it’s very possible that they’re holding their poop. 

First, talk with your toddler and ask why they don’t like it. They may feel like they shouldn’t. They may have anxiety about sitting on the stool that long. Whatever the cause may be, pinpointing the exact problem makes it easier to find a solution. Reassurance is key for kids who are unsure about toilet training, especially pooping. 

Tips and Tricks to “Let It Go”

Sitting with your child when they are potty training, especially when pooping, may give them the confidence to let it go. Even if they pee like a champ on their own, it may be different when it’s time for “number two”. The security of you being there can help them to ease their anxiety and feel free to go.

Add Fiber to Prevent Constipation

If they claim that pooping in painful, they may be experiencing constipation. Signs that your child is constipated may include: 

  • Dry, hard stools

  • Stomach aches and bloating

  • Painful bowel movements

  • Less than three bowel movements per week

  • Traces of blood in the stool or on the toilet paper

If you think your child is constipated, check how often and what kind of stools they’re having. It may be a sign of that other things that are going on with their health. Try adding more fiber to their diet to help soften their poop. Prune juice may not be their favorite (no surprise there), but fruits like apples and pears are a good snack with high fiber, and beans aid in digestive health as well. Incorporate these types of foods as much as possible.

For picky eaters, get creative when adding more fruits and vegetables into your child’s diet. Apple slices topped with peanut butter and raisins are a fun healthful snack. Or, a tasty berry smoothie with hidden vegetables can do the trick. If this doesn’t work, ask your doctor about alternative ways to incorporate fiber into your child’s diet to create less painful stools. Also make sure that your child is drinking enough water, which also helps with constipation and can make it easier for your child to use the bathroom. 

Try an Entertaining Distraction

In addition to paying closer attention to their diet and when they’re pooping, sometimes all it takes is a little distraction to get things on track (literally). Is there a funny “poop song” you can sing or a story to tell to keep your child entertained and not focused on the pain pooping may bring? Some kids may like the idea of being timed as part of a game. Nothing is too silly if it works getting your child to go “number two” regularly.

Incentivize with New Underwear

When learning how to potty train a toddler, you’ll find your child may not understand the benefits of being diaper-free. Once they are, they’ll see how much better it is to use the potty on their own, but before that, a little incentive can go a long way. The rewards should be kept small but exciting enough to encourage your child to keep up with potty training.

Let them pick out a few pairs of fun underwear they can wear once they’re toilet training pros. Giving them a choice may be the extra boost they need to feel good about what they’re doing. 

Evaluate Their Readiness 

Finally, If you feel you’ve tried everything, go to your doctor for advice. There may be another reason why they’re holding in their poop. It’s important to know the scoop on poop including your child’s diet, when they started potty training, how many times it’s been between poops and different remedies you’ve tried. 

It could simply be that your child’s not quite ready for potty training. Consider all the factors and decide what you think will work best for your toddler. If they’re not fully ready, they may try to “withhold” pooping to stay in diapers a little bit longer. It takes time, patience, and a bit of back and forth to train your child on a regular bathroom routine. Just know it’s perfectly normal for there to be hesitation, and they’ll conquer this milestone soon enough. You got this!


Source: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/what-should-you-do-when-your-kid-refuses-to-poop/; https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003125.htm

We aim to provide you with the most honest and credible information possible. This article was reviewed for accuracy by The Honest Team and was written based on trusted sources that are linked at the bottom of the article.