Toddlers often learn to wee on the potty before they’ll ever poo there. It’s not unusual for them to have soiled pants even if they’re doing all their wees on the potty. But if you suspect your little one needs to poo but is keeping it in, you might need to help things along.
Make sure it’s not constipation
First make sure your child isn’t constipated. If your child is not getting enough dietary fibre or fluid in her daily intake, her poos may be infrequent and when they do come they’re big, hard and painful to pass. Constipated kids can be forgiven for being reluctant to do a poo under these circumstances.
Make sure it’s not a power struggle
Potty training too early or in a pressured situation where children are made to feel bad or naughty for having accidents can turn the whole thing into a power struggle. You might think you’ve made progress with wee in the potty, but holding onto his poos can be a toddler’s final attempt to regain control. If you suspect this might be the case, slow down, reassure your child he’s doing really well and that your proud of his progress so far. Then lay off him while he relaxes back into pooing wherever he feels comfortable doing so.
Put her poo in the loo
If everything is otherwise fine but your toddler’s still doing her poos in her pants or pull-up, let her carry on. However there are two things you can do:
- Get her to do the deed in the bathroom or toilet room even if that means she sits in the corner doing it in her pants. Then progress to getting her to sit on her potty – even if she’s still in her pants or pull-up. The next step is then to remove the pull-up or pants. Take it slow and give her lots of positive fuss when she makes any progress.
- Once she’s done a poo in her pants or pull-up, make sure you empty the poo into the toilet and let her see you doing this. She needs to be reminded of the connection between poo and the loo. She’ll also get used to the plopping sound, the splash and the flush if these are things she’s worried about.
A parent's view
Kevin, dad to Perry (3 years, 6 months) says: “Perry had some kind of phobia about doing his poos anywhere except in his night-time pull-up. He’d hold it in all day The Health visitor suggested we sit him on the potty with a balloon to blow up or a toy trumpet to blow. It uses the pooing muscles apparently. Hey presto! After that Perry seemed to turn a corner and all his poos started going in the potty.”
The expert view
Kate Daymond from Parentalk says “Bowel movement resistance is quite a common problem. Some children find the sight of poo a bit frightening, so they won’t poo anywhere but a nappy. Your tot may need reassuring, so as bizarre as it sounds, let them see other people’s poos. A book like Everybody Poos by Taro Gomi can help him realise that there’s nothing to be scared of.”