There are many things that come to mind when a parent thinks of potty training problems. Nutrition isn’t usually one of them. But, in reality, your child’s diet may play a much bigger role in potty training than you think. What goes in, must comes out, and certain foods make eliminating much more difficult.
In today’s society, many toddlers grow up on a low-fiber diet of fast foods and processed snacks. While chicken nuggets, processed cheeses, white bread, and packaged sugary snacks may be convenient for parents and fun for children, they have little nutritional value and contribute greatly to constipation. Sugary, fatty, and starchy foods can also slow the digestive system and make bowel movements hard.
Constipation and Potty Troubles
When a child is constipated, his bowel movements tend to be irregular, which causes a problem for consistent potty training. Constipation can also make going to the bathroom painful for your child, which can lead to fear and anxiety about going potty. This can make toddlers even more resistant to potty training. If bowel movements are hard and painful, children may purposely attempt to hold them in, which constipates them even more. Chronic constipation can lead to many problems including potty training delays, urinary tract infections, and stomach aches.
Offering a High Fiber Diet
A healthy diet for kids is high in fiber, in order to promote regular bowel movements. According to Kids Health, toddlers should get at least 19 grams of fiber each day. A healthy high-fiber diet should consist mostly of fruits, vegetables, and whole grain breads and cereals with minimal processed foods. Some high fiber foods to consider feeding your toddler include:
- Green Peas
- Brown rice
Changing Your Child’s Diet Slowly
Of course, it isn’t always easy to change your child’s diet. We all know there are many children who refuse to eat anything green and besides, toddlers are uniquely stubborn. If a toddler has grown accustomed to his chicken nuggets or macaroni and cheese, he may put up a fight if you suddenly try to feed him green vegetables and brown rice.
The good news is you don’t have to make changes all at once. Start by slowly offering new foods to your child. It is important to add fiber in gradually, rather than all at once. If your child is struggling with constipation, consider giving him a glass of prune juice to help soften bowel movements.
Work with what your child does like. Most children are fond of fruit, so try to get your child to eat as much fruit as possible. While many people think of fruit as a dessert food, offer it before a meal. Fruit will digest much quicker than processed foods and it can cause a tummy ache if eaten after heavy meats, breads, and pastas.
You can also try sneaking veggies into your kid’s diet. Smoothies are a great way to do this as you can easily add some spinach or kale to a fruit smoothie and it won’t alter the taste much. That said, you may have to convince your child it’s okay to drink something green. Flax seeds and chia seeds are other high fiber foods that you can easily add to smoothies, cereals, or oatmeal.
If you’re still unsure about how to add more fiber to your child’s diet, consider seeing a qualified nutrition expert for help.