How to manage your child’s nutrition to set your child up for potty training successMay 16, 2023
Wondering how nutrition impacts your child’s success on the potty?
A balanced and nutritious diet can have a big impact on a child’s ability to poop both regularly and comfortably. And that's because if a child's bowel movements are painful, it can have a direct effect on your child’s willingness to use a potty to go.
So in honor of Digestion Health Month, let's take a deeper dive into how nutrition impacts potty training and how with just a few changes to your child’s diet, you can make your child’s journey to diaper freedom a whoooole lot easier.
The elephant in the room… Constipation.
The hard and fast truth when it comes to potty training is…constipation is often THE underlying cause of potty training issues both relating to the bowel and the bladder.
You see, painful bowel movements often lead to fears, anxiety and resistance to pooping on the potty. Maybe you’ve heard those stories of kids only pooping in a diaper or avoiding using the potty altogether… and this leads to withholding, accidents, setbacks and more complex health issues down the road that can be much more challenging to overcome.
Constipation affects the bladder in many ways too. A full bowel can put pressure on a child’s bladder increasing urgency and frequency. It can create opportunities for urinary tract infections (UTIs), lead to urinary continence (accidental urine leaks) and even a decreased bladder capacity… affecting a child’s ability to hold urine throughout the night.
Simply put - when it comes to potty training, constipation can affect a child's ability to both pee and poop, which is why it’s super important to take steps to help your child overcome it.
Pooping daily? Your child may still be constipated!
I know, I know… this can be confusing. The common understanding of constipation is infrequent pooping, which is why you’re probably scratching your head thinking,
“If my child is pooping a few days a day and can STILL be constipated, how the heck do I know if they are?! “
To understand if your child has constipation, we need to look at a bunch of symptoms side by side. According to leading Pediatric Urologist Dr Steven Hodges these symptoms can be extra large stools (large enough to clog a toilet), diarrhea and pooping more than once a day, poops formed like rabbit pellets or logs, straining or crying to poop, bloody stools or bottom, infrequent pooping, hiding to poop, skid marks, itchy anus and a general reluctance to poop in a toilet.
So you may ask... "where does diet come in?!"
One of the first places to start tackling your child’s constipation is starting with your child’s diet. The amount of fluid your child consumes, the type of food your child eats and the dietary supplements your child takes can help soft and easy bowel movements… that will help reduce your child’s hesitancy to use a potty.
Drink, Drink, Drink!
Drinking water and other fluids keep stools soft and easy to pass, reducing the risk of constipation. As a general rule, a child should drink close to half an ounce of water for each pound they weigh. For example, if your child weighs 125 lbs, they should be drinking close to 8 x 8 ounces of water (64 ounces a day).
If your children are like mine and drinking water is a challenge, try more creative ways like soups, smoothies, fruit-infused water and ice pops. Sometimes a fun and novel drink bottle or curly straw can do the trick! You can also look at offering fruits and vegetables in high water content like watermelon (92%), cucumber (96%) and peaches (88%).
Bulk up on fiber-rich foods
Next, you want to be serving foods that are high in fiber. Fiber is a super nutrient that helps to bulk up stools and make them travel faster and easier through the colon. Most foods high in fiber are also high in water which helps to process fiber in the body.
Fiber is found in all plant foods and whole grains. Look for natural fruits (versus processed fruit leathers) that are high in fiber, sorbitol, vitamin c and magnesium that help regulate bowel movements like berries, apples (skin on), pears (skin on) ripe bananas, citrus fruits, stone fruits and avocado. Wheat bran, legumes, beans, wholegrains and nuts also help add bulk to stools and promote regularity.
Cut down on foods that constipate!
Simple carbohydrates like sugar, corn syrup, soda, white bread, pastries, white potatoes and processed meats like cold cuts can slow down digestion. Processed foods like fast food and junk food are generally high in salt, processed sugar and fat but low in water and fiber can also constipate.
Watch your child’s cows milk intake
Sometimes constipation starts a lot earlier than parents realize - when kids start eating solid foods and drinking cows milk. Foods with low fiber content and cows milk can make stools thicker and harder to pass in some kids.
Kids ages 1-8 should have around 2 cups of milk per day, so keep an eye on your child’s cow’s milk intake and consider some alternatives like oat or almond milk based products.
Add some good bacteria!
Many people think of bacteria as being bad to human health… but the truth is, 99% of bacteria are considered ‘good’ bacteria and are actually harmless and even helpful… including the ones living in and on us!
In your gut, they help with digestion and, regulate our metabolism. They also promote tissue healing and immunity on your skin, support pH balance in your vagina, help break food in your mouth and protect your teeth and gums.
There are two types of bacteria that play a crucial role in maintaining gut health: Probiotics and prebiotics.
Probiotics are live bacteria that help promote a healthy microbiome.
Prebiotics on the other hand, are fibers that act as food for the good bacteria in your gut.
In short, both probiotics and prebiotics play a part in promoting the growth of good bacteria in your child’s gut which can help to keep things moving smoothly… make it easier for your child to go to the bathroom.
Why all probiotics are NOT equal.
Probiotics aren’t actually regulated by the FDA… meaning that if a company wants to sell a probiotic, they don’t actually have to test and prove that it works!
That's why you’re probably seeing “probiotic” products pop up everywhere these days, from yogurt to kombucha, pillowcases to clothing. The truth is, these products are not actually considered to be probiotic by scientific standards. To be considered a true probiotic, they need to be live microorganisms that when ingested in our bodies remain in a livable, viable state and deliver a health benefit to us.
Why choose Seed over other brands?
Seed’s PDS-08™ is a 2-in-1 probiotic AND prebiotic formulated for kids and includes 9 clinically studied probiotic strains with a prebiotic blend of fructooligosaccharides (FOS) and inulin – two forms of soluble dietary fiber that have prebiotic action in the body. Each capsule contains 5 grams of fiber (equivalent to 1.1 cups of broccoli! Woah!) which is particularly helpful to bridge the fiber gap in most kids' diets!
Unlike many other probiotics for kids, Seed’s PDS-08™ was studied on pediatric populations in a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial…meaning that they have clinical data to back up their benefits like supporting smooth, frequent poops, promoting healthy bowel movements in kids who have had fewer than 5 bowel movements a well!
Seed’s PDS-08™ are also engineered to survive. Unlike most probiotics, Seed’s PDS-08™ formula is protected by a lipid-coating microencapsulation system that helps prevent bacteria from being destroyed during ingestion… meaning they actually deliver a health benefit.
- It’s not made from artificial colors or favors
- There’s no added sugar unlike other prebiotic gummies and powders
- Free from 14 classes of allergens (like gluten, soy, sesame, corn, peanuts, dairy, shellfish, animal products)
- There are no observed side effects or GI distress (like pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea) which is often the case with many fiber-based dietary supplements and probiotics
- Easy for kids to consume, whether that’s mixed in with your child’s oatmeal, apple sauce or water.
Seed’s PDS-08™ has been formulated for benefits in and beyond the gut, which means not only does it make pooping easier, it has strains that support skin, respiratory and immune health too!
Whilst nutrition alone may not help to manage your child’s constipation (i.e. movement and exercise!), making changes to your child’s nutrition and supporting their digestive health with probiotics and prebiotics are one of the necessary steps to help support soft and easy bowel movements. AND when you reduce pain or discomfort, you can help reduce fear and resistance to your child using a potty and set your child up for potty training success long term. That's a win, win in my books.
*Disclaimer: No content on this site should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice or treatment from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
Reference: Hodges and Scholesberg, It's No Accident: Breakthrough Solutions To Your Child's Wetting, Constipation, Utis, And Other Potty Problem, 2012, Lyons Press
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