Who would have thought that as a parent, you’d need to give so much attention to something as unappealing as your child’s poop? Studying your child’s stool is a good way to monitor how healthy he is. At the same time, if there are problems with his bowel movement, you’ll know that it’s time to make some changes in his—and most probably your—lifestyle.
What is it? Constipation is defined as “a delay or difficulty in passing stool. One suspects a child to be constipated when bowel movements are less frequent than usual or when stools are either painful or too hard to pass,” says Karen Calixto-Mercado, M.D., specialist in pediatric gastroenterology, hepatology, and nutrition. “Stools appear hard, lumpy, and are bigger in caliber than usual or may be small, hard pellets.”
Cricket Chen, M.D., a pediatrician who specializes in natural medicine, adds that constipation occurs when your stools are “really hard, hurt when you pass them, and cause bleeding. It happens also when very dry stool has to be manually pulled out and if there is a change in the child’s bowel movement rhythm.”
Not everyone has the same schedule for passing poop, so you need to know what is normal for your child. “Two days longer than your usual bowel movement is already bad,” warns Dr. Chen.