This just in: babies poop less than you might think. As in, they might even go a few days without a sign of a stink. Pooping is hard work, and they simply may not have that much to eliminate.
(Ever think you would develop this level of intimacy with another human’s poop? #lifegoals)
So how do you know when it’s baby constipation and when it’s just run-of-the-mill pooplessness? Let’s check it out.
The 411 on your constipated baby
Let’s get to the, um, bottom of it:
Firstly, no two babies’ poop schedules are alike. That being said, there are some general patterns to be aware of.
When your baby is fresh out of the womb, they might poop after every feed. (Again, not all babies, but this is a common trend.) It’s totally normal for them to poop anywhere from three to 12 times a day. This frequent pooping is a good sign. It means two things—that they are getting the milk they need and that their tiny digestive system is kicking into gear.
After this, things get a little weird, especially for breastfed babies. Somewhere in the region of a month old, your baby may appear to just stop pooping, at least for a few days.
The reason for this is that baby’s liquid diet, especially if it’s breastmilk, is usually very easily absorbed, so there’s not a lot of “waste” that needs to come out the other end. Of course, some breastfed babies continue to poop everyday. Formula-fed babies tend to poop everyday or every other day, but there are variations there, too.
So how do you know if there’s a problem? And what can you do about baby constipation if it happens?
How can you tell if a baby is constipated?
If you notice any of the following, you may have a constipated baby on your hands:
- Your baby seems to have a hard time pooping. They appear to be pushing or straining. They might get red in the face when trying to go.
- Their poop looks like small, hard stones, rather than smooth and creamy.
- Their poop is really runny. It’s counterintuitive, but sometimes runny poop can be a sign of constipation because it’s this runny liquid poop that’s able to seep out around the hard blocked poop.
- Their belly is bloated.
- They have cramps. This can be quite difficult to figure out. If your baby is fussier than normal, it’s not a bad idea to check in with your healthcare practitioner.
If there’s formula in your baby’s diet, constipation might be a little more likely. Infant constipation is unlikely–but not unheard of–if your baby is fed a diet of breastmilk only.
When you start adding solids to the mix, the whole pooping regimen may be disrupted. Adding solid foods one at a time can help you figure out if a particular kind of food has a negative effect on the digestive (or any other) system.
How long can a baby go without pooping?
After hitting about the one-month mark, babies can go many days, even a couple of weeks, without pooping. And this is generally nothing to worry about.
Once they start on solid foods, the possibility of baby constipation goes up as their digestive systems make the transition.
How do I help my constipated baby?
So what are the best baby constipation remedies? That all depends on how old they are and what sort of diet they currently have.
What can I give my 1 month old for constipation?
First things first, chat with your doctor about whether it is indeed newborn constipation that you’re dealing with. Your baby might just naturally go longer between pooping sessions, and that’s okay.
Then, steer clear of laxative medication unless it is specifically prescribed by your doctor. Ingredients in these medications can be harmful to babies.
Next, if you are breastfeeding, you can experiment with changing up your own diet to see if that has any effect—but it may have nothing to do with you. If you are feeding your baby formula, double-check the instructions on the label.
And then, give these home remedies a go:
- Give your baby a stomach massage. Very gently, run your fingertips over their stomach and ribs in circular movements.
- Give your baby a relaxing bath. This may soothe those stressed-out muscles and get everything working as it should.
- Get your baby moving. It might help to give them a bit of exercise. Moving their legs around can help get things moving on the inside.
How to help a constipated baby once they’re on solid foods?
Once they’re on solid foods, there are a few more baby constipation relief methods to try:
- Keep them hydrated. From about six months, you can start giving your baby a little bit of water or fruit juice. As you know if you’ve ever been constipated yourself, a little bit of liquid can go a long way.
- Add some high-fiber foods to their diet. Fruit works well. Prunes, peaches, pears, berries. Depending on where your baby is at with the solid foods journey, you can make purees for them. Switching up their cereal can also help. Go for whole grains rather than anything refined.
If none of this works, there are some over-the-counter baby laxatives available—but it’s a good idea to check in with your doctor before giving these a go.
Baby constipation when to worry
If your baby has any of the following symptoms, check in with your doctor:
- Blood in their poop
- Liquid poop that seems to be leaking out
- High fever
- Symptoms of dehydration, such as no tears when crying, sunken eyes and hardly any pee in their diapers
Good luck, mama. This too shall pass… literally.