What to do when your toddler has a weak stool

Young children ages 1-4 years often have a weak stool or even diarrhea. A healthy toddler can have weak stool even when all else is well. This problem tends to occur more fsrequently during the summer. Often this problem is very easy to solve.

Potential causes of a weak stool among young children include:

-          The first and most frequent cause is too much fruit juice, especially clear apple juice (In the clear juice enzymes have made the polysaccharides into monosaccharides. This in combination with the high levels of fructose and sorbitol in all apple juice can lead to malabsorption). In a normal diet, a maximum of 1 cup of unfiltered apple juice per day is usually okay—and to be encouraged when the child does not have a weak stool is such juice is quite nutritious.

-          Too little fat in the child’s diet. Up to 2 cups of whole milk products (milk, yoghurt, etc.) is part of a healthy diet for children ages 4 and under. Children under 4 can also benefit from moderate consumption of butter and oils.

-          Insufficient fiber in the child’s diet. Increase the use of wholegrain products.

-          A cause that is less well known is wheat flour. Wheat is the grain that contains the highest level of gluten. Gluten is hard to digest and can also lead to a weak stool. Try substituting products heavy in wheat (such as bread) with spelt. Spelt is an ancient grain that contains far less gluten than wheat. You can find spelt products at most alternative—and some mainstream—grocery stores.

-          Sometimes the weak stool can be cause by a lactose intolerance. However, when this is the cause of a weak stool, there are most often other complaints as well. If so, try goat milk products.

-          Legs and feet not being dressed warmly enough (especially walking barefoot in the summer).

If none of these causes seems to be present or if the changes recommended do not resolve the weak, please see your physician promptly.

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