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Question
Posted by: Mother | 2003/03/11

Toddler unaware of bowel movements

My 3 year old toddler is totally unaware when he has bowel movements. He is potty-trained during the day and only wears a nappy at night. When he does something in his pants and I question him, he is adamant that he didn't do it and when he sees it he is truly shocked to see what is there. I believe that he does not actually know he is doing it. At what age should they have complete control over this and at which point do I take him to the paediatrician?

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Our expert says:
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Mother, you don’t have to worry as yet. A good sign is that it only happens at night and about 17% of 3 year old children soil their pants. Only 1% of 4 year olds do, so it should clear up within the next couple of months. You just have to make sure that he’s not constipated, as this is a major cause of encopresis (soiling the pants in the absence of an organic defect or disease). Good luck.

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