Tips for helping kids with Potty Training Bowel Movements

For many kids, potty training bowel movements i.e. pooping in the toilet or potty, presents a much bigger challenge than learning to pee in the potty.

What can we do as parents to help our kids with bowel movements during the earlier stages of potty training?

Some thoughts and tips are brought in this page.

Work on prevention: Don’t wait for crisis

A point for thought: Do you believe that the first few encounters the child has with pooping in the toilet (or potty), will affect the way he feels and acts about it in the longer-run?

I don’t have an “educated opinion” on that, except that it makes sense: if the child is constipating from the beginning, leading to difficult first episodes of pooping-in-toilet (or trying to) -- it might affect child’s attitude towards pooping, short term at least.

My experience with potty training bowel movements has taught me that trying to “fix” a child’s constipation is very difficult, once it already has built up. The pain and resistance is already there, and you end up working on crisis-mode.

So probably, the best thing we can do is to work on preventing constipation, rather than waiting for it to develop and then trying to solve it.

The next paragraphs suggest some ways to do that.


Parents of toddlers still have the advantage of controlling what they eat at home.

If possible, (especially if you're staying home for the earlier days of potty training) I would plan some sort of "menu" for the first few days, consisting of foods that encourage bowel movements.
It should be child-friendly and at the same time consider the right choice of foods.

    [--- Sidebar ---

    Apart from considering foods that are “right” and avoiding foods that are “wrong”, it is important to follow these two basic guidelines in regard to child’s nutrition:

    (1) Get them to drink regularly and sufficiently
    (2) Get them to eat small frequent meals (every 3 hours or less during daytime). Avoid having long breaks between meals.

    --- end of Sidebar ---]

Foods that can help with bowel movements:

  • Fruits & vegetables are generally good, but they’re better with the skin. Bananas should be avoided, and some say that also guavas and persimmons.

  • Whole-wheat bread instead of white-wheat

  • Bran cereals

  • Oats

  • Yogurt

  • Prunes (dried plums) and prunes’ juice

  • Tomatoes and tomatoes’ juice

  • Beet

  • Watermelon (due to the high percentage of water in it)

  • In general, prefer Whole-wheat foods over white-wheat. This can apply to cereals, pasta, bread, and any food you’re making by yourself using flour; for example you can make pancakes from whole-wheat flour.

  • Drinking is extremely important for bowel movements. Try getting your child to drink fluids regularly and sufficiently.

Foods to avoid:

  • White rice

  • Bananas

  • Avoid offering the child all sorts of processed-food, fried-food and snacks that have low nutrition value and low fibers; they don’t contribute to bowel movements and most kids wouldn’t want nutritional food after they’ve eaten those.

Preventive medications

If you already know your child tends to constipate, you may want to use some sort of preventive product when starting potty training, to help your child with bowel movements.

Personally I’m familiar with this one product -- PEGLAX -- a local brand name for Polyethylene Glycol (PEG) 3350, which was prescribed and recommended by our pediatrician:

    It's a natural non-addictive food supplement that melts instantly in any Drink (you can get it with or without flavor). It adds volume to the stool by increasing its water content, making the bowel movement softer and more “friendly”.

    PEGLAX contains the active ingredient Polyethylene Glycol (PEG) 3350, which merely performs a “mechanical action” on the stool when it’s already in the rectum.

    PEG 3350 doesn’t get absorbed in the body, and does not interfere with the digestion process in any way.

    It can be used as a daily aid for preventing constipation.

For more information on medications containing PEG 3350:

I’ve also tried this product -- HADAS NON STIPATION SYRUP for children, which is based on natural ingredients.

This one also can be used to ease and to prevent constipation in children, but I’m not sure how long it can be used without developing some sort of dependency (unlike PEGLAX).

Other things we can do to ease potty training bowel movements

We can encourage or suggest they have a “potty sit” after meals, especially for kids who normally go pooping in regular hours. Don’t force it or stress it, and don’t make those “potty sits” long. (If they don’t go, just let it go.)

For some kids, potty training bowel movements will be a learning process. What we can do as parents is be alert and keep an eye on them to notice signs of wanting to go poop, then lead them to sit on the toilet or potty when we see those signs.

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