Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Font Size

Your Baby's Bowels and Constipation

There are a lot of misconceptions about constipation and what it means in babies.

Can a Few Bowel Movements Still Be Normal?

Because breastmilk is so nutritious, sometimes almost all of it is absorbed, leaving little to move through the digestive tract. Stools may come only once in a while -- perfectly normal breastfed infants may only have a bowel movement once a week. Other infants just have a slower (but completely normal) gut, so they don't go very often. However, if your baby seems to be in pain or you have any concerns, call your doctor.

Lasting, severe constipation rarely has a medical cause (for example, the muscles in the intestine don't work or there is some sort of blockage), while occasional, hard stools are very common.

Constipation Defined

There is no medical harm if stool stays in the body for a long time, and how often your baby has bowel movements (BMs) does not really define true constipation. If your baby has soft, easy-to-pass stools every 4-5 days, he is probably OK. On the other hand, if he has a hard time making BMs, has hard stools, has bloody or black stools, seems uncomfortable, or doesn't have a BM at least once every 5 to 10 days, you should talk to your doctor.

Tips for Easing Baby's Constipation

  • Try a different brand of formula -- after checking with your doctor -- if you're bottle feeding. (Constipation should never be considered a reason to stop breastfeeding.)
  • Add a little non-absorbable sugar or dark fruit (prune or pear) juice to your baby's formula. Or just give some extra water (if your baby is older than 4 months) -- no more than 1-2 ounces per day -- after checking with your doctor.
  • Try a glycerin suppository or the tip only of a well greased thermometer if the addition of a little sugar does not work. Do not try this more than once without talking to your doctor first.
  • Remember that most babies with occasional BMs are not truly "constipated" and nothing needs to be done.

When to Worry About Baby's Constipation

Contact your pediatrician if the occasional, hard stools seem to be causing a lot of discomfort to your baby. But keep in mind that occasional but soft, easy-to-pass poops are not constipation and rarely require help.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on July 11, 2015