Causes of Chronic Constipation in Toddlers

Updated at: Sep 19, 2011
Causes of Chronic Constipation in Toddlers

Newborn care- Diet, family history and stool withholding are the main causes of constipation in toddlers.

Bushra Kafeel
Newborn CareWritten by: Bushra KafeelPublished at: Sep 15, 2011

Causes of Chronic Constipation in ToddlersIf your child has less than three bowel movements per week and stool is hard and is facing difficulty to pass stool then he/she is probably suffering from constipation. Some of the causes of constipation in toddlers are listed below.



According to the National Institute of Health, children develop constipation due to stool withholding.  Toddlers usually withhold stool to avoid interruption in their playtime. Unfortunately stool holding can quickly become chronic. When looked at physiological aspect of stool withholding as cause of constipation, larger stools lead to pain and involuntary soiling. A toddler can also hold back stool due to many other reasons.


  • Fear of using day care or public toilets.
  • Fear of asking for help.
  • At times toddlers are so involve in their play that they lack patience to spend their valuable time in bathroom.
  • When a child keeps on withholding stool, the brain learns to ignore urges by colon to pass stool. As a result the stool remains in colon and become dry overtime. This dry and hard stool is more difficult to pass and the child continues to get afraid and hold it. After a painful bowel movement toddlers try to avoid the situation


Family History


If problem of constipation runs in the family then your child is more likely to face the problem. Risk for chronic constipation appears to cluster in families, either as a result of genetics or shared environmental conditions such as stress. Chronic constipation mostly occurs in people who share same genetics and environmental conditions (such as stress).



According to the American Dietetic Association, most of the Americans fall short of recommended intake of 25 to 35 grams of dietary fiber. Parents give their toddlers same diet, this leads to constipation in toddlers.


  • Low fiber diet.
  • Dietary causes of constipation in toddlers also include allergy from cow milk or excess consumption of cow milk.
  • Parents are advised not to give excess cow milk to their toddlers. Child who continues to rely on milk as major source of daily fluid intake will become accustomed to it and will face problems in later life.
  • Toddlers who eat lots of sugar and dessert stands at greater chances of facing difficulty in passing their stool.


Children who are being breastfed may have constipation while switching to the formula milk. But this is only temporary; bowel movements come back to normal when child’s body becomes accustomed to the other type of feed.


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