Bowel problems in children

What’s wrong?

Bowel problems are common in children and young people of all ages.

Many children experience issues with their bowels. Understanding the problem will help to find the best way to support the child or young person.

Constipation is common

It is not always obvious what is causing the problem. However, the most common reason for difficulties is constipation.  Constipation can cause lots of different problems.

Constipation causes other problems

This includes accidental soiling , delay in toilet training, pain when opening their bowels, reluctance to use the toilet, withholding poos, lots of loose poos or infrequent hard poos, distress and reduced appetite.

Other bowel problems

Other bowel problems include those that children can be born with, such as Hirschprung’s Disease and anorectal malformations. Some children can get bowel problems because of an intolerance or allergy to a particular food. Children may also develop irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or an inflammatory bowel disease.

Additional needs

Sometimes, if children have additional needs, their disability may be assumed to be the cause of difficulties with their bowels. However, all children with a bowel problem, including those who have additional needs, should be offered an assessment and treatment as appropriate.

Information at your fingertips

Browse tips, information and advice for children

Whether you’re looking at toilet training, bedwetting, bladder or bowel health or many other issues, our expert-written resources will provide you with information you can trust. 

How can we help?

Whatever your situation, take a look at the options below for advice and information.

National confidential helpline

Speak to specialist nurses and our continence product experts

Receive advice on bladder and bowel health issues, continence promotion and options for managing incontinence, as well as signposting to local services.