Inside: Here are the foods that do and don't help your toddler poop, so you can avoid toddler constipation.
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Toddlers are notorious for freaking out when you cut their waffle the wrong way, loving one food one day and rejecting it the next, and running constipated because starchy and cheesy foods tend to rank high on their will-happily-eat list.
But here’s the thing. You poop what you eat.
So if your toddler is not eating the best foods to help the poop along, you can get stuck when the diapers come off (or the poop can get stuck). The problem with toddlers and mild toddler constipation is many people automatically think of the three P’s with foods to help your child poop.
Pears, peaches, prunes...with a side of prune juice. And maybe some fiber bars or fiber gummies.
So let’s talk more about what to keep in mind about all those prunes and fiber.
What foods help your child poop and what foods don’t?
Here’s a blueprint to the diet tweaks that can help with potty training your toddler.
Is Fiber the Answer?
Turns out, the high-fiber trick can actually work in reverse if you consume too much. Seriously. Your body needs more hydration to absorb the extra fiber. Toddlers don't know to drink more water when they're eating a fiber bar or prunes. And it's hard to know how much is too much, when it comes to fiber.
And toddler constipation is no joke.
Not only is constipation uncomfortable and unhealthy for the child, but it can put in motion some bad pooping patterns. Long histories of constipation can lead to a poop blockage which is a serious problem. Even a small bout of constipation can really mess with potty training.
You know when it feels like you're pushing out (mildly constipated) poop?
For a child, that feeling is much more emphasized, because they're so little.
Constipated poop can feel *ouchy* to toddlers and then their natural toddler thinking is that *pooping is ouchy* and they can start to resist pooping more. And then a bad spiral can start with the poop.
So what can you do to help your child poop?
Start with your child's diet. When you begin potty training, in Oh Crap Potty Training we suggest a few tweaks to your child's diet to help prevent constipation and make it easier to catch pees and poops in the potty. It will be much easier to be successful in potty training if your child has smooth poops that are moving along regularly. Remember that foods like starches (wheat, bread, cereal), dairy, and certain fruits (like bananas) are naturally binding. Related: I talk through foods to help your child poop and simple recipes in one entire section of my e-course Potty Training Solutions.
Be mindful of hydration. If your child backs off of drinking when potty training starts (some kiddos do this) and isn't fully hydrated, it's common to see mild constipation in toddlers. Start with water. Remember that toddlers can be finicky creatures who prefer a certain temperature or texture. Not drinking enough from the water bottle? Try adding ice to change the temperature. Or try offering in a cup. Try a coconut water (this coconut water by Thrive is our favorite.)
Offer other foods to hydrate. Some toddlers are not huge fans of water. So what else can you offer? Be aware that cow's milk can be constipating, so too much dairy can be another reason for constipation. Instead, try adding in a smoothie (using coconut milk). Or you can even freeze smoothies into popsicles, which many toddlers love as a fun treat. Watery fruits are another easy way to up your child's hydration. For snack time, offer fruits like watermelon, navel oranges, or grapes that are filled with water and will help up your child's hydration. Those fruits also help with mild toddler constipation.
Now that your child is hydrated, what's next?
The secret to a smooth, healthy poop is full-fat foods!
Here they are:
+ Coconut milk and coconut oil for constipation
The best addition you can add to your child's diet to help with poop is coconut, in all forms. In Oh Crap Potty Training, we recommend full-fat coconut milk (from a can) as the easiest way to help your child poop. It's a simple, natural cure for a mildly constipated toddler.
Coconut milk ideas: You can make a coconut milk smoothie.
Related: Get a free printable recipe for Jamie Glowacki's help-your-child-poop coconut milk smoothie. Sign up for my potty training cheatsheets and you'll get that recipe plus potty training cheatsheets to get you started.
Some mamas simply mix some juice with the full-fat coconut milk and that's a winner for their child. My kiddos love when I take coconut milk and blend with frozen mango chunks (in a 1:1 ratio), which will turn it into a texture and sweetness that's just like soft-serve ice cream. We call it mango ice cream (but it's simply fruit mixed with coconut milk), because language matters when you're trying to get your toddler to eat something new.
Coconut oil ideas: Coconut oil spread on warm toast with a drizzle of honey, agave, or maple syrup, and a sprinkle of cinnamon makes yummy cinnamon toast for toddlers. Just a tablespoon of coconut oil can help with mild constipation in toddlers. You can also cook with coconut oil as a substitute for canola oil.
+ Avocados are another food to help you poop
Avocados are another natural source of full-fat — they're a great food to help your child poop. Many toddlers may not be fans of avocado in its raw form or even as a nice dip of guacamole on their favorite veggies or chips. But avocado is pretty easy to sneak into smoothies or even turn into a healthy pudding or popsicle.
+ Other fats to cook with which help the poop (and brain development!)
In addition to coconut oil, what other cooking oils or fats can you add in to help with mild toddler constipation, and just keep those poops coming soft and steady?
Here's a list of cooking fats to bring into the kitchen to help the poop along:
A quality butter, like Kerrygold.
Olive oil (great for dressings, or drizzle over cooked pasta before adding the sauce)
Tallow and lard (yes, that's right! This is the original way pie-crust was made before polyunsaturated seed oils, like Crisco, were developed. And if you have a dairy-intolerant kiddo who can't eat butter, this is a great option for cooking, as olive oil is not a high-heat cooking oil.)
Related: Some poop issues go beyond diet. Sometimes there's true anxiety around pooping in the potty, even with a good soft poop. So follow your instincts if you're seeing something that feels off. I work with parents one-on-one in potty consultations. And Jamie Glowacki, the author of Oh Crap Potty Training, has a Pooping Solutions course that shares a deep-dive look at all the solutions for poop issues that can come up in potty training.
So that's a good look at the foods that help the poop.
Now if we can all remember to ask before cutting ANY food, we should be in good shape with these toddlers who tend to have strong opinions when it comes to their food.
Please note: As with all content shared on this site, none of these suggestions are to be considered medical advice. I am not a medical practitioner. You should discuss diet changes and supplements for your child with your doctor.
Illustrations: Citrus and Mint Designs