Background: Adhesions following abdominal surgery can cause small bowel obstruction (SBO) necessitating surgery. Whilst some studies have addressed SBO in children, the incidence of SBO, the diseases that are of increased risk as well as risk factors in young children remain unclear. Therefore, this study aims to determine; (1) the general incidence of SBO in young children, (2) which diseases entail highest incidence of SBO and (3) risk factors for SBO in young children. Study design: Young children (≤ 3 years of age) who underwent abdominal surgery in our tertiary referral centre between 1998–2018 were retrospectively included. Both general incidence and incidence per disease of SBO were determined. Independent risk factors for SBO were identified using cox-regression. Results: The incidence of SBO was 5% (N = 88/1931) in our cohort. Five of the SBOs developed following laparoscopic treatment. Patients treated for gastroschisis (17%,N = 9/53), necrotizing enterocolitis (8%,N = 15/188) and intestinal atresia (7%,N = 13/177) were at high risk of experiencing SBO. Diaphragmatic hernia (28%,N = 7/25) and meconium ileus (28%,N = 7/25) also showed high SBO proportions. Having a history of stoma (HR:3.2, 95%-CI:2.0–5.2), undergoing emergency surgery (HR:2.2, 95%-CI:1.3–3.7) and postoperative infections (HR:1.9, 95%-CI:1.2–3.1) were general risk factors for the development of SBO. Conclusion: The incidence of SBO in young children seems higher than what has previously been reported in older children, which is why they should be studied separately. The incidence of SBO differs between diseases. Having a history of a stoma, emergency surgery and postoperative infections were independent risk factors for SBO development. Although less at risk, SBOs do develop after laparoscopies, which is why they should be included in more long-term follow-up studies.