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How Often Should Your Baby Poop?

Katlyn Joy |21, July 2014


Constipation is a common issue for infants and children. In fact, according to the National Digestive Disease Clearinghouse of the National Institutes of Health, about 5 percent of visits to the pediatrician and 25 percent of referrals to gastroenterologists are for constipation.

How to Know if Your Infant is Constipated

Since baby can't tell you, "Mom, I'm miserable because I can't poop!" you'll have to be a detective. Look for signs like crying when having a bowel movement, infrequency of bowel movements, pebble-like stools, arching of the back when passing stool, and possibly a bit of blood in the stool caused by anal fissures, or small cuts from hard stools.

How Often Should Baby Poop?

It's hard to know if baby isn't soiling enough diapers if you don't know what's normal. For newborn breastfed babies not yet on solids, stool is often passed a few times a day and is quite soft. At about 3 to 6 weeks, breastfed babies may only have a bowel movement every few days, or maybe as little as once a week.

Formula-fed babies are more consistent with stools, passing a firmer bowel movement once a day on average.

If baby's stool doesn't resemble hard M&Ms, and baby doesn't seem unhappy about passing the stool, baby probably isn't constipated no matter the last time he or she dirtied a diaper.

What Causes Constipation in Infants?

Most the time, constipation is seen as babies have solid foods introduced into their diets. It can also show up in breastfed babies who are now getting formula instead or as well. Give baby time to adjust to the dietary changes. If things get too uncomfortable for baby, you may want to try a glycerin suppository, with doctor's approval. These are not meant to be used except as rare treatments. Should your child seem to need them often, you need to talk to the pediatrician.

For older babies experiencing constipation, other culprits may be to blame. Certain medicines can cause constipation, as can too little fiber, too little water, or behavioral issues such as holding in feces. If an older baby has experienced a painful poop, due to hardened stools, he or she may be reluctant to pass stool again. This of course only exacerbates the problem.

Treating Constipation in Older Babies and Toddlers

For younger ones, you should consult a doctor for recurrent constipation after time has passed to adjust to any dietary changes. Rarely, a more serious problem may be behind the constipation such as Hirschsprung's disease or hypothyroidism.

For older babies, you can try adding juice like apple, prune or pear. Don't use a fruit drinks or anything not 100 percent juice. Start small, with only 2 ounces at first. Sometimes you may get things flowing with a little bit of juice. Add too much and you'll end up with a whole new problem; diarrhea. You can also give your baby a few ounces of water each day.

Do not give baby laxatives, mineral oil or any other grandmotherly antidotes.

For babies eating solid foods, pay attention to baby's diet to determine if there are any certain foods to blame for blocking the works.

The Mayo Clinic recommends if baby is eating solids, switch from rice cereal to barley if constipation is an issue. Try pureed peas or prunes to loosen things up.

Relax. Babies get constipated from time to time. While it's uncomfortable, it's unlikely to become any type of serious issue. Just relax and adjust diet as needed. If that's not sufficient, consult your nurse or doctor for further advice.

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