Poop books teach toddlers that everybody poops and can help them along with the process. If you have a potty-trained kid who struggles with pooping, you’re not alone. Holding in poop is super common in toddlers and young kids, and while it’s a crappy frustration to deal with as parents, it’s pretty unbearable for kids, too.
Why is my child holding in their poop?
There are lots of different reasons why they might be holding in their poop, but more often than not, it has to do with control. Kids don’t have control over most of their existence, but they can certainly control when they push their poop out. Another common reason is that, quite simply, it can hurt. Releasing a bowel movement, especially a big one after constipation, can be a literal pain in the ass. (Check out these top-rated overnight diapers just in case the struggle becomes a little too real.)
According to Melissa Halas, a Pediatric Nutritionist, author of the Super Crew books, and fellow Mama — the struggle for some kids to poop, “often comes down to fiber, diet, exercise, sedentary behaviors, hydration, position, and stress,” says Halas. She broke down her explanation of potential (pooptential?) reasons in terms even we could understand.
Exercise and Technology: “One reason kids may not [poop regularly] is due to a lack of consistent exercise and movement, which gets the GI track going!” Halas explained. “More recently, kids have been superglued to their screens for both school and leisure, making sedentary behaviors a way of life. Yet, it’s recommended that children get at least one hour of exercise per day. On those jam-packed days, bust a move by breaking up exercise into 15+15+15+15 minutes segments! Run outside. Have a dance party. Kick a ball…The possibilities are endless!”
Stress: “Younger kids may use withholding potty time to maintain control, which can develop into a stubborn habit over time. Older kids may get stressed by the fear of gastrointestinal distress and therefore avoid going to the bathroom.”
Hydration: “An essential factor to keep bowel movements regular. As a rule of thumb, give your child the number of 8-ounce cups of water equivalent to her age + a little extra. For example, roughly a 4-year-old should drink four to five 8-ounce cups of water a day.”
What can I do to help move things along?
When the struggle is real for your kiddo, there are a few things parents can try. For one, Halas suggests giving them food with a natural laxative effect; things like prunes, dragon fruit, and kiwi! “Adding two kiwis to your diet a day can help stop the strain, increasing frequency, softness, and ease of movement,” Halas added.
A tip that’s useful for both kids and parents is to change your poop position. “Those little dangling legs are causing the Gastrointestinal (GI) tract to strain, creating unnecessary pressure and tension. Instead, prop them up with a step stool to make pooping easier! That goes for mom and dad too, it will lower your risk of diverticulitis and hemorrhoids.”
The biggest thing that could help your child’s urge to poop is their diet. Staying away from wrapped and pre-packaged foods — meaning try to keep their diet as natural and organic as possible. “To call it quits on wrappers, have fresh fruit, veggies, and whole grains ready to go for when hunger strikes,” says Halas. “Whole food snacks are jam-packed with nutrients, water, and fiber to help prevent constipation. To keep your kiddo’s gut (and butt) happy, pair these with low-fat dairy or fibrous plant-based foods like beans, nuts, or seeds. ”
Now trying to explain all of this to a toddler isn’t exactly a walk in the park. That’s where children’s poop books come in. We rounded up the best poop-themed books for kids that encourage them to stop holding it in, at least if they can help it. From books that help overcome pooping fears to stories that describe how the digestive system works, there’s something for every poop occasion (or lack thereof). BTW, we also have a round-up of poop toys that might also, you know, help things move along. (May we suggest the “gotta go” flamingo?)
Listen, parents: You’re doing your best to help your child overcome their hesitation with pooping. It’ll happen. Books can help, but if they don’t, you might want to consider a visit to the pediatrician for professional advice.
The Best Poop Books For Kids
The classic, best-selling picture book about pooping. It’s the go-to book about poop for a reason – it’s educational, matter-of-fact, and a funny look at everything and everybody that poops. It has simple graphics with bold colors, perfect for toddlers resistant to pooping or potty training.
One Reviewer Wrote: “We read this to our two-year-old grandson and he immediately asked to hear it again...and again and again and again. This book is so clever, reassuring, funny and encouraging to the younguns. Especially those on the cusp of being potty trained. A must-have for any kid's library.”
One of the best books for kids who are afraid pooping will hurt. Ryan is a little boy who’s afraid to use the potty because he thinks it’ll hurt. His parents take him to the doctor who explains how different foods can affect poop and make pushing out a poop easy or hard.
One Reviewer Wrote: “My 3-year-old references Ryan and his doctor sometimes when she’s eating the foods recommended in this book! I bought five books on this topic and this one was definitely her favorite.”
Kids who hold their poop — for whatever reason — really relate to this book. It’s written from the point of view of a little boy who refuses to poop… until one day he just does. Parent after parent have reviewed this book on Amazon, and they all say the same thing: It’s a magic poop book that has somehow caused their kids to start pooping again. (Magic poop book for the win.)
One Reviewer Wrote: “I almost never write reviews, but this book worked in less than 4 hours. My 3.5-year-old would pee in the toilet but not poop. She would run away and even find a pull up to put on and go there instead. Fearful that we were going in the wrong direction on potty training, we got this book. We read it together during the afternoon and later this evening she used the potty successfully for a #2. Something resonated within her.”
A funny and educational book that takes the shame out of pooping, because everybody poops — even astronauts and fish. Sure, it may give your child (or you) a few giggles, but the message couldn’t be clearer — this is just a normal body function that all of us have in common.
One Reviewer Wrote: “We have several ‘potty’ books but this one is her favorite by far! She loves the adorable illustrations, especially the ones of animals pooping. I love that aside from normalizing potty time and making it relatable, this book shows people doing all kinds of things on the toilet. It can be hard to get her to sit still on the toilet for very long without getting bored, so I always point out the pictures of people reading and listening to music while they go - our favorite is the granny knitting on the potty!
A simple reminder that all living things poop, even animals, is sometimes all it takes to help your little one get over their fear of pooping. This book is all about animals, the alphabet, rhymes, and of course, poop.
One Reviewer Wrote: “This is my son's favorite book. I love that it goes through the entire alphabet and introduces all kinds of new animals. This book always causes giggles in my house.”
This educational and super helpful book answers the question, “What happens to food when you’re done chewing?” Using rhymes and fun illustrations, this book explains digestion to little kids using words they understand. Your kids will learn all about poop… and you will too!
One Reviewer Wrote: “This sweet book is so informative AND fun! What a great way for kids to learn about the processes happening in their bodies! It was great to follow the food along on its journey (I was transported back to days spent reading Magic School Bus!). I felt like I was learning things I either forgot or never learned in school. Check out the info in the back listing foods and fiber content. Very helpful for adults trying to meal plan for children.”
Dash is a sweet little dog who doesn’t want to go poop before he heads to the park with his mom. After holding in his poop for so long, he ends up with a belly ache. It’s a relatable story for kids, and it doesn’t hurt that Dash is adorable and feels so much better after he has a big poop in the grass. Hopefully, your kid will stick to the toilet, but at this point, a poop’s a poop.
One Reviewer Wrote: “We got this book to help our toddler with his potty training. He learned to pee in the potty easy but with poo, he was always too busy to sit and relax and then he started holding his poop in which would cause tummy issues. We love dogs so he related to Dash and Dash wanting to play with his friends. Our son asked to read this book again and again until he finally got the hang of things. The graphics in the book are cute and straightforward and it’s an easy read. The expressions on Dash’s face are adorable.”
A cute board book for toddlers that will make them laugh while learning all about how every creature poops — even grownups and every type of animal. The story emphasizes that while animals may poop outside, humans always poop in the toilet. A bonus: The illustrations include a lot of diversity, each kid with a different skin color.
One Reviewer Wrote: “My baby loves this book! It's great for introducing the concept of using the potty and I appreciate it's a sturdy board book because my 18 month old loves ripping paper. The story itself is informative but also playful and silly so even my potty trained 4-year-old loves this book too.”
A lift-the-flap book that keeps toddlers engaged as they learn all about where animals poop. It’s a cute and funny way to explain to kids that they, too, have a place to poop — in the toilet. Not only do the flaps make the book more fun and interactive, but it’ll help the book stay interesting even after they’ve mastered the art of pooping.
One Reviewer Wrote: “My toddler adores this book. He thinks it's the height of hilarity to find the poop on every page. The flaps are surprisingly durable, and the couple that have ripped don't deter him from enjoying those pages.As the adult, I approve the mix of animal moms and dads depicted in the book — I appreciate books that have dads involved in basic care tasks.”
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