Colostomy Closure: A Parent's Checklist

From the moment the colostomy is closed, up until about the age of three, children will need intensive support from their parents to develop good bowel habits. Parent’s involvement in this is critical to laying the foundation for healthy bowel function, successful potty training and ultimately, confident kids.

Here are a few things for parents to keep in mind:

  • Frequency:  You’re aiming to have your child have one or two well-formed bowel movements a day. While other children may not go for several days and be fine, this is not true for children with anorectal formations. A proper diet and the use of daily laxatives can help achieve the right frequency. 
  • Consistency:  You’re looking for stools with the right consistency. Diarrhea can actually be a sign of constipation. One helpful tip is to add water soluble fiber to the diet. This makes the stool more formed and the laxative more effective.
  • Develop a Potty Pattern:  If the baby has one, two or three formed bowel movements at a predictable time of the day, this will make toilet training much easier. 
  • When in Doubt:  Assume constipation and give your child a laxative. It is better to do this, than it is to wait and take the chance that the baby will develop fecal impaction.
  • Laxative Control:  If your baby develops diarrhea as a result of the laxatives, simply decrease the amount of laxative. Your child will not become dependent on laxatives. 
  • Impaction Impact:  You are trying to avoid fecal impaction. If fecal impaction is detected too late, the build-up of stool actually stretches the colon. This leads to more constipation and more impaction, creating a vicious cycle.
  • Diet Do's and Don'ts:  Parents can influence colon motility (the movement of food through the colon) by the kind of food they give the child to eat and the frequency of meals. After the age of one, we recommend that each day, parents try to give the child the same types of foods, three meals, and snacks at a consistent time. Click here to see detailed nutritional recommendations for children with anorectal malformations after colostomy closure
  • We are Here to Help:   If you need help with your child’s constipation - call our nurses: (614) 722-4086 or  email CCPR.