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My son is straining to have a BM, what could this be?

This morning my 1 year old seemed to be straining to have a BM. Usually he has no problems in this area. 1st diaper changed he had just a tiny hard ball was hidden in his cheeks. Shortly after I saw him straining again. This time several tiny hard balls. A few minutes later I heard him again. This time with a wimpery grunt/cry & a "mama" like it really hurt. This one was 1/2 hard 1/2 soft but had streaks of red like blood in it. Not a lot but enough to be concerning. No blood on the wipes however. What could this be?


Elizabeth Walenz | Pediatrician

Elizabeth Walenz

This sounds like your son may be constipated. We have had a long drought this summer and now that fall is almost here, the weather is very dry. It is very easy to get dehydrated when the weather is drier and when kids get dehydrated, they can pull water from their colon resulting in hard ball-like stools. 

When children are constipated, it can cause them to strain or push quite hard to get the stool out of their body, so you may hear them grunting or groaning a bit.  Hard stools can be rough on the colon walls and can abrade the walls of the colon resulting on blood on the stool or blood on the wipes. 

I would recommend to increase the water in your child’s diet to 2-4 oz of water in the morning and in the afternoon will help. Also, evaluate your child’s diet. Make sure he is getting plenty of fiber including fruits and vegetables. Whole grains are good as well. Avoid constipating foods such as bananas, cheese and highly processed foods or refined grains. Some children who drink a lot of milk can also get constipated, make sure your child is not filling up on milk throughout the day. If you integrate these recommendations and your child is still having hard stools or blood on the stools, bring him in to the pediatrician for a visit.

Read more answers by Dr. Walenz