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Unexpected Toddler Poop Accidents
January 29, 2012 3:48 PM   Subscribe

My basically potty trained three-and-a-half year old has started having poop accidents. Any ideas why this might be happening (and how we might stop it)?

So, I'm not sure what's going on.

She's potty trained, although she typically has pee accidents a couple times a week, but she's always been good at letting people know when she needs to go poop (and poop accidents have been rare). She's had issues with very squishy poop since she was about a year old, but has still been able to successfully poop in the potty.

This week she was sent home from daycare on wednesday because they thought she had diarrhea, although I'm not sure she did---I think the daycare provider, who is new, overreacted to typical squishy poo. However, that evening, she had another poop accident, and my husband said she looked really surprised. Ok. Thursday was fine; nice non-particularly-squishy poop in the potty. Friday, things were fine as far as I know. Yesterday, poop accident, but the poop was a nice firm consistency (sorry!). Today, poop accident (and looked surprised).

She's been maybe a bit under the weather, but nothing particularly treatable. (maybe a cold or something; she seems more tired than usual, and gets wicked overtired-out-of-control at night).

Nothing's changed recently otherwise except she's not been getting much exercise, because we've been having a cold snap and the kids can't go outside for recess.

I'm happy to take her to the pediatrician if there's some sort of issue, but we've got a very high deductible, so I'd rather not if it's not necessary.
posted by leahwrenn to Health & Fitness (13 answers total)
 
I wonder if anything has changed - any routine disruptions, diet change, new neighbor, anything? I'd also wonder how big a deal the day care worker made about the poop accident (though no way to find out for sure!).

If your daughter has internalized any shame about poop she may be trying to hold it in, perhaps without being completely aware that she's holding it. Then, relaxation and a surprise poop.

Obviously not the only possible cause. Treat any further accidents as no big deal (no punishment, no inadvertant reward), and watch for any other changes.

As for the deductible, it's only January. Something else will come up in the next 11 months, might as well start chipping away at the deductible so the next thing is less freaky. Take her for her annual well child visit now if that helps mitigate the costs.
posted by bilabial at 4:00 PM on January 29, 2012


Kids in my son's preschool class tended to have accidents when they were otherwise occupied. Three year olds often really like what they are doing, and don't want to miss out on anything, and this often resulted in potty accidents.
posted by jenny76 at 4:03 PM on January 29, 2012


Our three and a half year old has been reckoning with her own poop issues recently. She's had a couple of accidents (one where she was really upset about it) but a couple of other times she seems to have sneaked off to poop her pants quietly when we thought she was off playing. She's otherwise a skilled solo-pooper and this seems to us like a phase of some sort and we're not alarmed by it or doing anything differently, although the less poop a person has to clean up in a lifetime, the better.

It's possible it's just something as mundane as the fact that it's cold -- cold toilet seats on warm butt in the winter might be a surprise to people new to the planet, as well as the whole having to partially disrobe thing.

If you feel in the back of your head, something's wrong, I think you should go to the doctor but on the surface this sounds like one of those routine kid things.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 4:13 PM on January 29, 2012


Constipation, possibly. That was the cause of my preschooler's poop accidents. Daily Miralax solved the problem.
posted by KathrynT at 4:41 PM on January 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Kids in my son's preschool class tended to have accidents when they were otherwise occupied. Three year olds often really like what they are doing, and don't want to miss out on anything, and this often resulted in potty accidents.

I'm totally familiar with this---this is precisely why she has so many pee accidents, and I figure eventually she'll figure things out. It's the fact that she's having poop accidents that's unusual. Because she'd had maybe 2 or 3 since she's been out of diapers (this past september), and now four in as many days, and it's not obviously because of some sort of diarrhea-causing stomach bug.
posted by leahwrenn at 4:41 PM on January 29, 2012


If the daycare provider is new, is it possible that your daughter is a little nervous about her and doing the whole "hold it in...oops" thing in response? Especially if they embarrassed her early in the week.
posted by cairnoflore at 5:07 PM on January 29, 2012


How does she react to sugar substitutes? I have known kids who would react (with drastic poop changes) to one gummy bear with malitol or Splenda, etc. Or Sorbitol, that's the worst.
posted by cda at 5:12 PM on January 29, 2012


"Constipation, possibly. That was the cause of my preschooler's poop accidents. Daily Miralax solved the problem."

Laxatives are generally intended for short term use only as they can cause dependence, this is a possible solution if constipation is the problem, but any long term use should only be done under the supervision of your child's physician.
posted by Blasdelb at 6:06 PM on January 29, 2012


Is she pooping regularly? That is - can you plan some potty trips for her, take her to the bathroom at regular intervals to see what happens, and then when she does poop, try to take her to the bathroom roughly the same time the next day? (Or, if she poops her pants at 3pm, take her to the potty at 2pm the next day)
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth at 6:52 PM on January 29, 2012


Laxatives are generally intended for short term use only as they can cause dependence, this is a possible solution if constipation is the problem, but any long term use should only be done under the supervision of your child's physician.

It was my physician who recommended the daily Miralax. Despite the name, it's not a laxative, it's an osmotic stool softener. Her instructions were to give it daily for a year, then try tapering it off.
posted by KathrynT at 7:47 PM on January 29, 2012


So, when I say her poops were firm, this is in opposition to her regular squishy soft-bowl-of-instant-oatmeal poo. These were more like regular oatmeal that's sat out for a couple hours (firm enough to form a ball (in her underwear) or snake (in the toilet). Not hard constipated poop.

Before I had kids, I never dreamed I would become such a poop connoisseur. Sorry for the TMI. On the other hand, you're reading a toddler poop thread.
posted by leahwrenn at 8:55 PM on January 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


I am an adult who had a sneezing accident. My doctor also told me to take Miralax for a few weeks. He explained that although you don't necessarily feel constipated, you are, and the soft squishy poop leaks around the harder poop and then boom, it comes out when you're not expecting it. So Miralax is an idea, although I agree you should consult the doctor first.
posted by IndigoRain at 12:28 AM on January 30, 2012


Nobody has mentioned Encopresis yet. To be honest it doesn't really look like it from your description (no history of constipation; rather the opposite) but you may want to read a little bit about it. Note that Encopresis is often a psychological problem rather than physiological.
posted by rom1 at 6:53 AM on January 30, 2012


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