Normal, healthy bladder (and bowel) habits in children

We’ve been talking a lot about helping children establish normal and healthy bladder habits, whether at school or home. But what exactly is normal? Let’s face it, there are many parents out there who do not practice healthy habits themselves! Once your child is “potty trained” and becomes more private about their potty time, you may feel a little out of the loop, making it harder to recognize problems children are having in the bathroom.

Here are a few basic things you should know about your child’s healthy bladder (and bowels!)

1. Mastering control is a remarkable feat of the human body

First of all, getting to the point of declaring ‘’no more diapers!” can be tricky. For a child to not pee and poop in their pants anymore is actually a remarkable feat of the human body. It’s a complicated system of many nerve relay systems extending from the pelvic floor muscles, bladder and bowel organs all the way to the spinal cord and various parts of the brain. For some children, this system kicks into gear around 2-3 yrs old, while others may not be ready until they reach 4. And no matter the age, accidents do happen in the process of  becoming ‘’dry’’.

Because most of us have little recollection of our own potty training, we tend to forget what an accomplishment it actually is! A good way to promote ‘’good habits’’ is to provide positive reinforcement from the very beginning. Remember to stay away from scolding, which can actually discourage your child from using the bathroom.

2. Your child should empty his or her bladder 5-8 times a day

Most experts agree on this. And if you listen closely, you should hear a nice, consistent tinkle stream.

3. More than three “Number 2’s” 

How about bowel movement habits, aka, BM’s? Your child should be having more than 3 BM’s  a week, ideally daily to fall in the ‘’normal’’ range.  Your child should not need to strain, and they should describe stools that may look snake-like.

4. Children’s diets are an integral part of bladder and bowel health

What children eat and drink are part of healthy bladder and bowel habits too! Your child needs fiber in his/her diet to keep things moving.

To calculate how many grams of fiber your child should be getting each day, simply add ‘5’ to their age until the age of ten. So, for example, a 6 year old should be consuming 11 grams of fiber every day. After ten, it is advised that children get the “adult” recommendation of 25-35 grams.Fresh whole fruits and vegetables, bran and whole grains are the best sources of fiber.

Healthy bladder habits for children
Good bladder habits are important for children of all ages.

Fluid intake is a must for a healthy bladder and bowel. Children, unless directed otherwise, should drink 1 ounce of fluid per kilo a day. (Here’s a step by step fluid intake calculator here.) Bottom line, your child should have relatively clear, or yellow tinted urine. Urine should not be dark or smelly! It’s a good thing now and then to check out the scene before they flush. Stay tuned if you think your child may not be exhibiting ‘’normal’’ bladder or bowel habits! We will be talking about what abnormal behaviors or signs to look out for in your child’s bowel or bladder health next week on our blog.

As always, don’t hesitate to contact us here at Pelvic Wellness Center if you have questions about your child’s bladder and bowel health!