World Digestive Health Day - What Your Child's Poop Is Telling You

Did you know today, the 29th of May 2016 is World Digestive Health Day? Today's article is a short sharing on child's poop and what is telling you. Don't take it lightly, as a parent of two young children, I'm very much interested in making sure they are healthy, inside and outside. Read on below! 

World Digestive Health Day - What Your Child's Poop Is Telling You
World Digestive Health Day - What Your Child's Poop Is Telling You

It may be a messy business but it is a key indicator of your child’s health. This year, in conjunction with World Digestive Health Day on May 29, we draw attention to bowel movements in children and a common digestive issue amongst children – constipation (i)

Martin, my kid having his meal
Martin, my kid having his meal

Kids love to eat, and they do eat a lot, sometimes to the point of having bloated stomach. I have two kids running around at home, Martin the four year old being really active and have a veracious appetite when it comes to feeding time. We make it a point to make sure he 'outputs' daily, early in the morning training him to use his potty, and hopefully in the near future, the toilet.

When it comes to toilet habits, it is not exactly a favourable topic in your daily conversation. We may not pay attention to our child’s poop everyday, however it is one of the indicators of your child’s gut health. Having a healthy gut helps your child to digest and absorb important nutrients from food which is essential for the healthy development of your growing child. Here are some tips which can help promote a healthy gut for your child.  

Martin loves his chicken nuggets
Martin loves his chicken nuggets

What’s Normal, What’s Not?

Poop is also known as feces or stool, which is waste matter that is discharged from the bowels after food has been digested. The poop may vary everyday, depending on what your child has eaten. By keeping track of the changes in fecal features, such as shape, size, color, frequency and also consistency, you are able to understand your child’s gut health and ensure their overall health and well-being. 

So have you heard about the Bristol Stool Chart? I did not until recently when the wife showed it to me, and until I stumbled upon these information online. We really need to take note of our kids stools, as it tells a lot about the child itself. This is definitely more informative than a few years back when I only knew "green stool" may mean the kid has been frightened. How mis-informed I was back then.

Bistrol Stool Chart
Bristol Stool Chart

The Bristol Stool Chart (ii) is a useful guide commonly used by paediatricians that can assist you to distinguish types of stool. 
• Type 1 and 2 suggest a potential risk of constipation 
• Type 3 and Type 4 are normal stools which indicate a healthy gut
• Type 5, 6 and 7 suggest potential risks of infection or diarrhea, to which parents are advised to seek medical advice for the welfare of their children

Even mum gets a bite
Even mum gets a bite

Martin started to go on solid food very early on. Now that he's four, there are a lot of really hard, deep fried food which I don't condone but he loves to munch on it. There's always a worry that he may experience constipation, but I do ensure he drinks lots of water daily to ensure there's plenty of fluid intake. 

Common symptoms of constipation generally involve infrequent, difficult, painful or incomplete release of hardened stools in children. When food residue remains in the large intestine for an extended period of time, too much water can be absorbed, and as a result, stools become harder and drier. When your child is trying to pass a large or hard stool, it will stretch the rectal walls and may lead to tearing and bleeding (iii). This makes it even more painful for the child to pass motion and causes the child to continue “holding it”, out of fear or anxiety to avoid the unpleasant experience of passing hard stools, thereby creating a vicious cycle.

It's rather important to know
Looks "shitty" I know, but hey! It's rather important to know

Constipation: Prevention is the Key 

There are many factors that can contribute to constipation in children, such as variations in diet, developmental stage, environmental issue, emotional status or illness. To prevent constipation in your child and maintain a good gut health, here are a few recommendations I found online. Sharing with you for the betterment of mankind, read on: 

1. Diet. 

Consistently offer foods rich in dietary fibre, such as whole grain foods, fruits and vegetables in you and your child’s diet. Children from 3-6 years old are recommended to consume 2 servings of fruits and 2 servings of vegetables daily . Parents have great influence on children’s eating habits, so if your children see you eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, they are more likely to follow your lead and be more receptive to all the food you consume. Hence, it is important for you to be a role model to your children.

When there's input, there will be output
When there's input, there will be output, lots of fruits for the kid. 

2. Fluids. 

It is essential to keep children well hydrated, as inadequate intake of fluids will lead to constipation. Children between 2-3 years old are recommended to drink 1-2 glasses of plain water per day while children 4 years old and above are recommended to drink 6-8 glasses per day (iv)

3. Toilet Training. 

Studies show that there are two transitional periods in which a child is particularly prone to constipation; the first being at the time of toilet training, and during the start of school (v) . Parents are advised to encourage to your child to use the toilet regularly, such as first thing in the morning or 10 to 30 minutes after a full meal (vi) . Regular bowel movement whereby your child’s stool consistency is soft is one of the signs of a healthy gut.

4. Prebiotics. 

Research has shown that prebiotics such as fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) and galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) can help to promote softer stools for easier bowel movement (vii). Prebiotics oligosaccharide mixture GOS/IcFOS (9:1) helps increase intestinal bifidobacteria and hence helps to maintain a good intestinal environment (viii). With good intestinal environment and good gut health, your child will experience fewer digestive discomforts, including constipation.

Once in a while, he gets to indulge, but not everyday!
Once in a while, he gets to indulge, but not everyday!

In essence, good digestion is key to good health, it is an important part of your child’s overall health and sense of well-being.  To set the foundation for a healthy life, let’s ensure your child consumes enough fibre, water and foods containing prebiotics – it’s never too late to make good gut health a priority!  I hope you've learnt much more on what your child's poop tells you, as I have when I was writing today's writeup. 

(i) Van den Berg MM, Benninga MA, Di Lorenzo C.. Am J Gastroenterol 2006: 101(10):2401-9
(ii) SJ Lewis et al. Scand. J. Gastroenterol. 1997; 32(9):920-4 
(iii) A Rowan-Legg. Canadian Paediatric Society Community Paediatrics Committee, Peadiatr Child Health 2011;16(10):661-5
(iv) Malaysian Dietary Guidelines for Children and Adolescents 2013
(v) North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr 2006; 43:405-7
(vi) National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC)
(vii) Moro G et al. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2002; 34(3):291-5. 
(viii) Guide to Nutrition Labelling and Claims, Food Safety and Quality Division, Ministry of Health Malaysia. (2010)


Miriam said...

Haha I didn't know! Great to be able to tell how is our digestive tract from the way our stools

Angelpoiwoon said...

Thank you for the sharing! My girl has type 6... hahaha

Unknown said...

I guess the prevention doesn't works on adult anymore! Or maybe I should try? Haaaaha

Rikajue said...

This is a shitty issue, alright. Haha, I experienced from having my youngest brother when I was in secondary, that experience and your info, I hope I can take care of my future family.

Fadzi Razak said...

Is this apply to all kids ages? my baby is just 1 year old. will the condition of his poop can be the same with 5 to 6 year old children?

Sunshine Kelly said...

Thanks for the information, I think for adults also. A good digestion is good to our health as well.

Rawlins GLAM said...

Good knowledge - am gonna share it with my sisters and mum so that they will know about the lil' ones' health.

Shet Ling said...

Good information, have to share this with my friends as well.

Unknown said...

Great info! Will share it to my friends as well. =)

Sharon Lee said...

Hmm thanks for the sharing and I didn't know that whats eating actually affect our poop color XD Good info ya!

5 Little Angels said...

Great information that I can used on my children. I need to monitor them too.

GengQian said...

good post! i know a lot of kids suffering constipation and this post certainly help the parents. :) useful post!

Bearhy Hui Ying said...

your son looks so handsome and cute!!!! Will share to my friends who have kids!!!

Fateen Thalhah said...

Not crappy at all!Heh, thanks for the tips and chart, the picture is so realistic :P

Shub said...

Your son is handsome! Yes, we all have to take care of your gut and overall health.

Wai Yee aka Rane said...

your sons are so cute leh! I am keeping this poop info in mind :)

Lee yann said...

the poop info is good to share more..

Travellover23 said...

I know that by seeing the poop , we will know what happen to our digestive tract. Thanks for the detailed info

Ivy Kam said...

Didn't know about this until I read your post, thanks for the info sharing :)

Isabel said...

Very important for parents to know since children won't know and wont tell us adults!

Sin Yee said...

This is a great information. Not only kids, but adults also have to pay attention to our own poo.. XD

Leona Lim said...

very informative even as adults we should check our own you what too to make sure our health is fine

Unknown said...

Wow, superb blog structure! How long have you been running a blog for? you made running a blog look easy. The total look of your website is fantastic, let alone the content material! Women's health

jones elizabeth said...

I certainly appreciating each and every piece of it and I have you bookmarked to look at new stuff you post. probiotics for constipation