Poop Matters – Grumpy and Tired Kids Needing to Get Digestive Fit

Constipation can be miserable, especially for a little one who may not fully understand why they are in discomfort or pain. In fact, in a new real world research poll of over 1,000 parents for Docusol Paediatric, the evidence backed constipation solution from the life sciences healthcare company, Typharm, found that two thirds of parents say their child gets grumpy when constipated, while half of parents say they feel helpless as to know what to do.

Pharmacist, Sultan Dajani, and advisor to Docusol Paediatric says, “We assume that emptying our bowels should just happen as a normal bodily function; an instinct. Right? We don’t have to teach newborn babies how to empty their bowels – they just do it. Yet, constipation in children is incredibly common. It’s estimated that around 1 in every 7 adults and up to 1 in every 3 children in the UK has constipation at any one time. The new Docusol Paediatric research reveals that three quarters of parents polled say their child has had constipation at some point. Almost four in ten (39%) of parents say their child has experienced constipation two to three times in the last year, while more than a fifth (22%) say it’s happened four to six times and more than a quarter (28%) saying seven times or more. As bad as that can be, the knock-on psychological and emotional effects are often underappreciated.”

Constipation is stressful 

Constipation is seen by many as a minor health issue, but the serious long term impact on both physical and mental health and wellbeing should not be ignored.

Sultan Dajani adds, “These findings don’t surprise me at all. Constipation is very common. It is often painful, but a young child hasn’t got the words to say how they feel and that can be incredibly frustrating. Children who experience constipation often really suffer and it can take a huge toll on their mental health and on their parents too.”  

In the Docusol Paediatric poll those kids with constipation found that:

  • More than half (51%) say their child cries more (this shot up to 58% of 18-29 year old parents), 
  • Almost a third (32%) say their child is off their food
  • 32% say they sleep less
  • 17% say their child wakes more during naps. 
  • Only 2% of parents say their child doesn’t react at all when they have constipation. 


Constipation in a child is not only stressful for the child but for the whole household. Sultan Dajani says, “Constipation can leave a child and their parents feeling powerless. Seeing their little one in pain and discomfort, not surprisingly, makes more than half of parents sad (54%); half feel helpless (50%); more than a third feel stressed (36%), or upset (34%), and a quarter feel angry (25%). That’s according to the new research poll run by Docusol Paediatric.”

Many parents are concerned whenever any toilet habits change for their child while more than a third say they become concerned if their child hasn’t passed a stool in more than a couple of days, according to the Docusol paediatric real-world poll. 

“Worryingly, more than four in ten don’t know the causes of constipation in their little one,” says Dr Emma Derbyshire, paediatric nutritionist. “Only around half identified lack of fibre as a dietary cause and 37% said lack of fruit and vegetables. A healthy diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables and wholegrains – though not unprocessed bran – is important for bowel health,” she adds. 

Sultan Dajani says: “Go and talk to a pharmacist if your child hasn’t had a stool for a couple of days or as soon as you start to become concerned. As pharmacists we have a wealth of knowledge and can recommend safe effective treatments, such as Docusol liquid, which can be used by children from the age of 6 months.”

A vicious circle

“Stress for children and parents can become a vicious circle when a child is constipated,” says Sid Dajani. “When constipation causes stress, this can cause even more bowel discomfort and upset the balance of digestion. Stress can slow down digestion causing bloating, pain, and constipation. In others, it can speed up digestion causing diarrhoea and frequent trips to the loo.

Sultan Dajani adds: “It’s important to try and stop the cycle in its tracks by starting treatment to resolve the constipation. If your child is not managing to easily pass soft poo at least four times a week, constipation should come to mind. Likewise, if your child seems particularly miserable and mentions stomach discomfort or pain in their young child, think constipation and visit your local pharmacy. A pharmacist can advise on how to treat your little one safely and effectively and has the benefit of convenience and accessibility. Before you go to the pharmacy, write down all the child’s symptoms so you can describe them accurately. The pharmacist will be able to offer advice or refer you to your GP if they suspect anything more serious.”

Sultan Dajani adds: “Following a review by the MHRA, stimulant laxatives such as senna and bisacodyl are not available over the counter (OTC) without the advice of a doctor for children under the age of 12 years, but there are other medications which are suitable. Docusol Paediatric liquid is appropriate for infants and children and is available OTC for little ones from the age of 6 months. It contains docusate sodium which is a well-established stool softener. In other words, it moistens the stool (poop). It has a gentle action, working by increasing the amount of water the stool absorbs in the gut, making the stool softer and easier to pass. It is also convenient and easy for the child to take.”

Create and practice a poo-friendly zen zone in your home. Here are 7 Hacks from Docusol Paediatric’s pharmacist, Sultan Dajani

  1. Happy meal times: Try to keep mealtimes happy and relaxed (as challenging as this can be). 
  2. Managing adult stress levels: As an adult, try to manage your own stress levels and  try to remain relaxed around your young children as much as much as you possibly can. In the context of a busy life this can be incredibly hard, if not impossible. So, try to make some time for yourself, get as much exercise as you can and talk to your friends and family. Find activities you enjoy and people you want to be with who can help you to de-stress. This will pay dividends for your children’s stress
  3. Bust eating time arguments: Avoid arguing with each other at the dinner table. This creates stress for both children and adults. 
  4. Toilet Zen: Encourage your child to get comfortable on the toilet. If a child’s feet cannot touch the floor when they are sitting down, use a small stool or step to raise their knees above hip level. Sitting in this position makes it easier to poo.
  5. Don’t worry about accidents: Whilst a child is learning to listen to their bowels accidents can happen. Don’t make a big thing of it. It can increase your child’s stress levels even more.
  6. Stay calm and reassuring: This is important so that a child does not see pooing as stressful but as a normal part of life. Check whether your little one feels worried about using the toilet. Some children are frightened to use the toilet in the pre-school nursery for example. If a child is stressed by going to the toilet, a health visitor can often help.
  7. Dietetics: Diet is important too – aim to get your child eating a healthy diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables and wholegrains – though not unprocessed bran as that can cause bowel leakage – is essential for bowel health. Make sure your little ones drink plenty of fluid too.

Last word

Stress is both a common cause and consequence of constipation in infants and children and their families. Sultan Dajani notes further: It is important to look out for signs and symptoms of pain, bloating, anxiety, irritability, difficulty in sleeping and poor appetite. The appearance and frequency of the poop can be monitored using the Bristol Stool Scale. Constipation in infants and young children should be recognised and managed swiftly, otherwise it can become chronic. A pharmacist or paediatric naturopath should be consulted immediately with a full description of the child’s symptoms.

Brenda Kimble

Brenda Kimble is an entrepreneur and mother of 2 daughters and a son, plus their beagle named Duke! She loves blogging, crafting, and spending time with her family.