While fiber is considered a type of carbohydrate, your toddler’s body does not digest it but instead uses it to promote a healthy digestive system. Most toddlers don’t get enough fiber in their daily diets, which can contribute to a number of health problems ranging from childhood obesity to diabetes, according to DrGreene.com. While it’s a good idea to incorporate fiber into your toddler’s diet, it is possible to incorporate too much too soon, which can cause adverse symptoms.
Fiber can bind with your toddler’s stool, helping to prevent constipation and stomach upset. However, taking in too much fiber can cause your child’s intestines to give off extra gas while her body is trying to break down the fiber contained within the stool. This may cause your baby to experience gas, bloating or stomach upset. Also, your baby may experience increased incidence of diarrhea because the extra fiber may cause her stool to pass through too quickly.
When your toddler experiences adverse symptoms associated with fiber intake, the problem may not be the fiber itself, but instead the amount of fiber in your child’s diet. If you increase your child’s fiber intake too quickly, his intestines may not be accustomed to breaking down this much fiber. Instead of dramatically reducing your child’s fiber intake, try increasing his intake slowly until he reaches a healthy daily fiber intake. Your toddler’s digestive system typically takes about two weeks to become accustomed to digesting increased amounts of fiber. However, if the added fiber is not contributing to adverse symptoms, Dr. Alan Greene recommends continuing the added fiber intake because it is beneficial for your toddler.
While it may take some time to reach a recommended fiber intake, your toddler should get about three servings of whole grains per day. This can come from whole-grain cereals that contain little to no added sugars. Fruits and vegetables also contain fiber. Good sources in your toddler’s diet might include broccoli, apples, bananas or oranges.
Signs your toddler may be eating too much fiber include experiencing loose stools that seem to be bothering her. If the stools are messy and/or contributing to rash, these can be signs that your toddler’s fiber intake is adversely interfering with his health. If this is the case, you should reduce fiber and re-introduce fiber sources into the diet gradually.