Your Baby's Bowels and Constipation

Your baby can’t tell you when he’s having trouble pooping. So it’s easy for parents to misunderstand constipation and how it affects their little ones. But a few basic facts about your baby’s digestion can help you keep things in perspective.

Can Few Poops Still Be Normal?

Because breast milk is so nutritious, sometimes a baby’s body absorbs almost all of it, leaving little to move through the digestive tract. Your baby may poop only once in a while -- it’s perfectly normal for breastfed infants to have a bowel movement once a week.

Other infants just have a slower (but completely normal) gut, so they don't go very often. But if your baby seems to be in pain or you have any concerns, call your doctor.

In rare cases, a medical problem causes lasting, severe constipation. For example, the muscles in the intestine don't work or there is a blockage in the digestive tract. Otherwise, hard stools are common from time to time.

Constipation Defined

Constipation isn’t just about how often your baby poops. It’s also about how tough it is for him to do it. If he has soft, easy-to-pass stools every 4-5 days, he’s probably OK. On the other hand, you should talk to your doctor if he:

  • Has a hard time going or seems uncomfortable
  • Has hard stools
  • Has poops that are bloody or black
  • Doesn't poop at least once every 5 to 10 days

Tips to Ease Your Baby's Constipation

  • If you're bottle feeding, try a different brand of formula -- after you check with your doctor. Constipation should never be a reason to stop breastfeeding.
  • Add a little dark fruit juice, like prune or pear, to your baby's bottle. Or just give her some extra water if she’s older than 4 months -- no more than 1-2 ounces per day. But check with the doctor first.
  • Remember that most babies who don’t poop a lot are not truly "constipated" and don’t need anything different from normal.
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on May 08, 2018



"Clinical manifestations of gastrointestinal disease." Wylie R. in Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics, 17th edition. Behrman R, Kliegman R and Jenson H (eds.), Saunders: 2004.

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