Constipation and Diarrhea

A child tends to inherit the type of digestive system her parents have. There is no exact frequency with which a person should have bowel movements. Some people have them twice a day, others every two days. However, if your two-year-old has stomachaches or pains, has difficult bowel movements that include straining or pain, and passes hard balls of stool, or if she seems to be eating frequently but not having bowel movements with an appropriate frequency, then she is probably constipated. She may even indicate that she wants to have a bowel movement but is unable to produce one.

Alert!

Never give your child a laxative without first checking with your doctor, because dosage is an important aspect of treating constipation; you don't want her digestive system to get out of sync. Most physicians use milder methods to facilitate children's bowel movements, such as glycerin suppositories or mineral oil.

Even though constipation is not a sign of illness, it makes your child uncomfortable, so you should try to correct it by giving her a varied diet and more water to drink. Make sure she eats a variety of foods, including fruits and vegetables. Portions that are the correct size for her body will help keep her digestive system regular.

Some good foods that help adjust a constipated digestive system include a few prunes, dried apricots or grapes, as well as oatmeal and green vegetables.

Diarrhea, the direct opposite of constipation (too many and very loose bowel movements), will not only upset your two-year-old, it can also hurt and cause her to become dehydrated and lethargic. Diarrhea may be caused by a virus, by contaminated food, or can sometimes be a side effect of medications. If diarrhea begins quickly but stops after the next meal your child eats and isn't accompanied by fever, you probably don't need to worry about it. But if it lasts for two days or your child seems weak and lethargic, take her to the doctor.

One common and effective way to treat diarrhea is with certain foods. Banana, white toast, and white rice have all been known to settle the stomach. You can also give your child an electrolyte drink for children (such as Pedialyte) to help replenish her fluids. However, stay away from ginger ale and other soda because the sugar in these may further upset her stomach.

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