I feel your pain. I know you haven't had any sleep for days, and you are worried about your little one. You're thinking, "Will I have to resort to an enema again?" Ugh! I get it.
I have a two year old, who is perfect in every way, except one...he has an awful digestion system. It seems like this has been going on for him since the moment he was born, poor guy. I managed the first year and a half of life by nursing him. He never had any trouble digesting my milk. (And some days, I wish I could get my milk flowing again.) After 18 months, his belly has been nothing but a problem for us all. When the toddler is upset, even the neighbors can hear it...he screams bloody murder!
So, for the past year, I have tried everything I could think of trying to get his system moving properly. His doctor's orders, at first, were to add fiber and water to his diet. Upon leaving the doctor's office, I felt confident. I thought, "OK, I can do that!"
The only problem with this regiment was that my toddler was two, and he acted like it. If it wasn't mac 'n' cheese, grilled cheese, or cheesy crackers, he wouldn't eat it. Eventually, I had to stop buying all cheese related products, so I could show him that we didn't have that as a choice in the house. (Don't think I'm too evil, I have since added some cheese back into his diet...)
For months, I baked cookies and sneaked prunes into them (I told him they were raisins). I encouraged him to eat tons of yogurt. (I went to Sam's Club to buy Danimals and GoGurts for him in the highest quantities available.) I put some in the freezer, so he could have them frozen too. Although I felt like I was monitoring his diet well, it didn't seem to work. As hard as I tried, I couldn't get him to poop everyday.
MiraLAX and Our Struggles to Find an Alternative
Of course, it was only a matter of time before we found ourselves at the doctors again. After five days of no poop, I had no option. This time, his doctor recommended an enema (if you find these in the store, buy a few, not many stores carry the children's enema, at least not where I live...) and then to begin the MiraLAX regiment.
For those of you who don't know yet, a cycle of MiraLAX takes about one month to complete. (First you give a normal dose every day for a week's time, and then you back it off buy halving the dose the next week, and doing the same thing each week, until you are no longer giving the product to your child.) (PLEASE NOTE: I am not a physician, so please do not follow this routine with your child, unless your physician recommends it. Since every child is different, it is a good idea to bring your child to the doctor first, before "trying" any solution.)
If you r little ones, like ours, has been on the MiraLAX cycle, it seems unending. Every time my little one would get backed up, we'd have start the cycle all over again. It seemed as though he was on Miralax more than he was off of it. As I started to share my story with family and friends, they began to alert me to the possible negative impacts of using MiraLAX. UGH! I mean, double, UGH!! While I wasn't excited about having my son on a medication every day, it worked.
But after I heard about the possible negative impacts, like explained in this People's Pharmacy article, "Is Popular MiraLAX Laxative Too Risky for Kids," I started to look for other solutions. I definitely did't want to get my child dementia or autism. *Also, MiraLAX works, I don't want to give it a bad name. I just don't want my little guy on a medication that could be "potentially" harmful to him. My opinion is that more studies need to be done on this stuff to ensure it's safe use in children. However, I won't judge you, if you find success with it. Keep me posted!
Where to Go From Here? Back to His Diet.
So, after I was sure that I was going to stop MiraLAX, I had to find an alternative quickly. So, I started with his diet that is something we could do from home. I needed to find foods for constipation that he would eat. After some initial research I learned something interesting. Did you know that all fiber is not created equally? There are actually two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Both types of fiber are important for good digestive health, but basically, soluble fiber slows down the digestive tract and insoluble fiber speeds it up. BINGO! Let's speed up that digestive tract.
So, I needed to make sure my little one had a good dose of soluble fiber everyday. According to KidsHealth.org, a toddler (1--3) should get 19 grams of fiber each day, a lofty goal, believe me. If you haven't been watching your child's diet yet, be ready, you are going to be amazed about how much food in your house does NOT contain fiber. I was surprised to learn that even the things that are made from fruit, like jellies, and applesauce contains either really low amounts or no fiber at all. (Read more about fiber here.)
Prior to learning about the two types of fiber, I was giving my little one everything that has fiber in it without regard to whether or not it is soluble or insoluble. So, needless to say, I now spend even more time deciding what he's going to eat. I try to give my little one a mixture of both types of fiber, but I lean toward giving him more insoluble fiber than soluble. Each day we start out with a Fiber Advance Gummy. My little one takes one in the morning and one at night for a total of 3 grams of soluble fiber. Then I watch his diet throughout the day. We try to avoid dairy products, but as I said above, he can have as much yogurt as he wants. When he has milk, we opt for skim milk. Below is a list of other food with soluble fiber that my toddler will eat.
Short List of Insoluble Fiber Foods My Toddler WILL Eat (find more options here...)
- Wheat Germ (We mix it into smoothies. I buy Bob's Red Mill, Good Company/Great Products. There is 1g in 1 tbs. Also, I put this into everything that I bake, including pancakes!)
- Flax Seeds (We mix them into smoothies; they have 3g in 1 tbs.)
- Fiber One Products (Cookies, Bars, generally not the cereal...he won't eat the cereal. Some products boast 5g of fiber per serving. I always test the products first, and these products are yummy.)
- Frosted Mini Wheats (This has 5g of insoluble fiber per serving! Yes, I know there is a lot of sugar, but, this keeps him moving.)
- Raisin Bran
- Popcorn! (Yup, good 'ole popcorn. We have an air popper and pop our own; this way we can avoid the extra chemicals in the microwave or bagged corns. Bob's offers non-GMO corn too!)
- Oatmeal (Oatmeal offers two to three grahams of insoluble fiber per serving. We use Wegman's Foods You Feel Good About, because we know they are quality products.
- Rye Bread (We also buy this from Wegmans. It is hard to keep this in the house, because the whole family likes it so much.)
- Graham Crackers (I buy Annie's Honey Grahams; they have 2g per serving.)
- Apples (Leave the skins on and don't cook them! We like apple slices with almond butter.)
- Sweet Potatoes
Of course, there are many more foods out there with insoluble fiber; these are just the ones that my terrible two will eat. Check this list for more ideas. There are even more options for your little one here.
In addition to a day's worth of good eating we have to remember to hydrate him. (And, yes, I do like to refer to this little guy, as my chemistry experiment. I'm sure you feel the same way some days.) ;)
Water! Water! Water!
Maybe this goes without saying, but make sure your little one is getting enough water too. At first, it was a struggle to get him to drink more. He would dig in his heels and say no to just about everything I asked him to do. So, now, I don't even ask him; I just hand him a glass or a water bottle and I take a sip of my own drink, so he sees me doing it and he just follows suit.
In addition, now, I give him access to water all day long, and I make sure his childcare providers are reminded of the importance of his drinking throughout the day. This process seems to work for us. Other moms have suggested that letting your little one pick out a special water bottles, like the glass and aluminum ones here or these design your own water pouches, helps to encourage fluid intake with their children.
Probiotics for Toddlers? YES!!!
One more thing, frankly eating perfectly everyday is not always realistic. So, I definitely needed to find another "movement" supplement. When I was in Walmart one day, I looked at every product on the shelf close to the MiraLAX, and I noticed the probiotic supplements. My family has been taking the acidophilus for years whenever any of us was prescribed an antibiotic to try to negate some of the sour stomach side effect.
That's when I found Culturelle Probiotics For Kids. It's a probiotic supplement specifically designed for children one year (and older). Yes! No colors, no preservatives, no dairy, no lactose, no milk, no yeast, no gluten, no soy! No kidding, it is a great option for so many of you whose children have restrictive diets. Culturelle is safe to take daily, and you can even take it up to two times a day, which is how often I give it to my little one (once in the morning and once at night). My doctor has encouraged us to keep using it and a local nutritionist/herbalist also sang its praises!
In addition to helping to move the system along, the probiotic also seems to act like a stool softener. Since he's started to take Culturelle, my little guy has not had a hard stool. (Yes, he's had a couple of rough days, but his stool was still soft, not loose, but soft.)
When Tummy Troubles Are Present
In times of great distress, I'll give my little one a bath with Epsom Salts and a few drops of lavender essential oil. I usually find that after a nice relaxing bath he is more apt to try to go. We try to keep the house as stress free as possible when he is going through a bout. This is definitely easier said then done, but from my observations, he seems to go when the house is in a quiet mode. I will also turn the television off and give my older child a book during these "stress-free" times to help eliminate the extra pressure on his other senses. (This might sound goofy, but it works in my house. I always say, "go with whatever works for you!")
And that's it. That's how we relieved our little guy of constipation. I truly hope that you are able to find some solace in this post and that your little one will soon find relief. I know first-hand how awful it is to deal with the pain your toddler is going through. If you have some tips to share of how you (and your little one) overcame constipation, please post them in the comments below. Any more help with this issue is always appreciated! Good luck to all!
If you are looking for some amazing natural products for little ones and fam, check out one of my favorite stores, Our Green House here's the link :)
Labels: constipation, fiber foods for toddlers, MiraLAX, probiotics for toddlers, toddlers