We realize this might not be the most delicate topic, but let’s face it if you’ve gone through the baby stage with dirty nappies a constant, this is hardly anything new.
Before considering the frequency of bowel movements in your toddler, what can you do to encourage healthy bowel habits?
How To Encourage Healthy Bowel Habits in Your Toddler
As you’ll see when we explore how often should a toddler poop below, while the timing of bowel movements can vary considerably, regularly pooping is key to your growing child’s health.
Luckily, you can do your part to help out in the following ways:
- Keep your child active throughout the day as this will foster regular bowel movements in and of itself. Try any number of playgrounds in your local area, whether that be in Adelaide, Sydney, Brisbane, etc.
- Make sure your growing child is eating plenty of the right foods. Whole grains, fruit, and veg should all be core components of your toddler’s diet along with plenty of water. Ease back on the fruit juice, though. Restrict this to no more than 120ml a day.
- Ensure you teach your toddler never to hold in a bowel movement even if they’re hell-bent on finishing up the game they’re playing.
- Never use negative language to describe pooping as this can put toddlers off the idea of using the toilet. Avoid words like stinky or dirty. Make them feel comfortable with the idea of bowel movements as a normal, natural part of life.
- Teach your toddler the importance of bowel movements to their health. There’s no need to break out the science book but tell them why it’s necessary to get rid of waste in your body.
With that groundwork laid, you should find your toddler using the toilet regularly and naturally.
How often is “normal”, though and does it even matter?
How Often Should a Toddler Poop?
Once your baby reaches six months, more than four bowel movements a day are probably too many.
By the age of two, less than one bowel movement a day is likely not enough.
While there’s no hard and fast rule, anywhere from two to three times a day is probably adequate for a healthy digestive system.
The good news is, you don’t need to start counting. What’s far more important than the frequency of bowel movements is the consistency (yes, we are going there)!
Ideal Consistency For Toddler Poop
You should see a reasonable amount of poop when your toddler uses the toilet.
The consistency should be fairly soft and smooth. If the poop gets too hard, it can cause bleeding and can also be a sign of uncomfortable constipation. If you notice this, along with a marked decrease in the frequency of bowel movements, revisit some of the above pointers.
Perhaps, try to introduce more high-fibre foods into your toddler’s diet to help them along.
Conversely, if the poop is less well-formed or more watery, this could be an indication of diarrhea. This is generally viral and shouldn’t last more than a week or so. If you suspect your toddler has diarrhea, keep him or her properly hydrated and consider an oral rehydration solution.
When Should You Call Your Doctor?
While there’s seldom any cause for concern when it comes to bowel movements in your toddler, you should always call the doctor if you notice any of the following:
- Constipation is a regular occurrence.
- Stools are black or showing signs of blood droplets.
- Stools are white or very light in colour.
- Stools contain mucus, which can be indicative of intolerance of some kind.
- If the consistency of the stools changes radically after you introduce a new food, pay careful attention. Again, this can point to an allergy or intolerance.
- Your toddler starts to lose control of her bowels, having frequent accidents even though she or he is toilet trained.
- Diarrhea is accompanied by a fever of more than 38.5 degrees Celsius.
- Your toddler is presenting signs of dehydration like dry skin, tongue, and mouth.
As long as your toddler is having regular bowel movements with none of the above flashpoints occurring, there’s no need to obsess over how often they visit the toilet!
Remember: consistency counts far more than frequency, so keep a detailed log if you must.