What To Do When Your Baby Just Isn’t Pooping

It's possible you shouldn't be worried.

Baby Not Pooping

There is so much information that you must learn about taking care of a little one. When I became pregnant, I thought of all the exciting things like names, and nursery color choices and outings as a family. You know, all the fun stuff!

But once your little one is here, the reality of it is that we’ve got very different things to think about.

For instance. why hasn’t my baby pooped in two days? And then we rack our brains and try to really remember how long it’s been, because this IS important, right?

I can remember about two times when I was unsure if my son was experiencing constipation. Both times were before he was a year old so I did not have that much mom experience under my belt. If you are in that moment now, where you are wondering the same thing, hopefully this article can help.

Signs and Causes for Constipation

What are the signs to watch for?

According to BabyCentre:

  • Your baby may appear to be straining very hard to have a bowel movement.
  • Be very irritable and crying.
  • Have a hard tummy to the touch.
  • Have small hard and infrequent poop like rabbit droppings.
  • Have streaks of blood in his/her poop which is caused by straining to poop (anal fissures).

What causes my baby to be constipated?

According to BabyCentre:

  • Formula fed babies with too much formula mixed in per serving.
  • Fever.
  • Dehydration.
  • Changes in how much your baby drinks.
  • Any change in diet.
  • Medications.
  • Lack of strength in their abdominal muscles (ChildrensMD.org).
  • Milk-based protein allergies or intolerance to formula or milk products.
  • In older babies, certain foods like rice cereal, apple sauce, and bananas (Parents.com).

Important Differences

There are several factors to consider before worrying if your baby is constipated and seeking his/her pediatrician’s advise. The age of your baby and their life stage is important, as well as whether or not he/she is formula fed or breastfed.

What’s normal for newborns is not what’s normal for a three month old

  • Newborns tend to soil a diaper with poop after almost every feeding. This is because their intestines are still developing to become better able to extract the necessary nutrition from formula or breast milk. (ChildrensMD.org)
  • A baby at one month old may poop up to an average of four times per day. A baby that is two months old may only poop once a day (Easybabylife.com).
  • Infants older than eight weeks can go for up to five days without pooping and without constipation.
  • A three month old breastfed baby can go over two weeks without pooping (ChildrensMD.org).

Breast Fed Digestion versus Formula Fed Digestion

Breast milk is made of highly beneficial components for little ones and your baby’s young body is designed to hold onto most of the nutrition that comes from it. According to ChildrensMD.org, breast milk is a natural laxative and babies that are solely breastfed are rarely constipated.

Your breastfed newborn’s poop should be of a loose texture with possibly a grainy look. Your baby’s stool may also start out a greenish-brown color in their early days and evolve into a bright mustard color. It can also smell a bit sweet.

Formula can cause a baby’s stool to become firm. While many children are formula fed or partially formula fed and benefit from it, it may not be as easy for your little one to digest. A milk-based product such as formula can also trigger a milk-protein allergy or intolerance which can lead to constipation.

Formula fed babies’ poop will smell stronger, be thicker, and be lighter colored. (BabyCentre)

Life Style Changes for Mom or Baby

If you’re like me you may have initially breastfed your baby and then later switch to formula. This switch would cause a noticeable change in your baby’s diaper. Gradually making this switch will lessen the chance of constipation for your baby allowing his/her digestive track time to adapt. (BabyCentre)

Again, the poop will become thicker and stinkier once you make this switch.

Once your baby is old enough for solids and no longer on a solely liquid diet, you will want to be sure he/she is getting enough fiber to regulate digestion and avoid constipation. Once your baby is eating a variety of foods, poop will become thicker and smellier.

How to help your baby avoid or get through constipation.

  • When I was a kid and I had issues going, my mother gave me a few prunes to eat and this always helped. I received the same advise from my son’s pediatrician on one of the occasions I believed he was struggling. The doctor recommended a small amount of prune juice mixed in his formula and it helped.
  • If your baby is breastfed constipation will rarely occur if ever. If you do notice your baby struggling to have a bowel movement, you can help him/her squat by bringing the knees to their chest. This may help them release their stool easier. (Easybabylife.com)
  • If your baby is formula fed be sure not to over add formula to each serving.
  • According to ChildrensMD.org, you should not give your baby water unless instructed to do so by a physician. Giving your baby water can result in electrolyte disturbances which can be serious and sometimes fatal. Water can reduce your baby’s natural electrolyte amount and too much water can be more than his/her kidneys can handle.
  • You can increase your baby’s share of breast milk, as it consists of a natural made laxative.
  • If your baby is at an age where he/she is eating solids, fruits and veggies like pears and broccoli can help.
  • A doctor may suggest a rectal stimulation with a cotton swab or rectal thermometer which can tell you if there is a more serious problem. A bowel movement will usually follow within a few minutes of this.
  • According to Parents.com, other suggestions may include Miralax, a tasteless powder you can mix into a drink; senna, a natural vegetable laxative; and lactulose, a synthetic sugar used for treating constipation.

When to call the doctor.

If you’ve tried some of the above remedies and your baby is crying non-stop, has blood in his/her stool, and has stopped feeding normally it is time to call the doctor to rule out any kind of potential blockage. Also, yellow or green spit up or vomit is also a sign of a bowel obstruction.

There are uncommon but serious reasons why babies go a long time without a bowel movement. These include intussusception, malrotation and volvlus, and necrotizing enterocolitis as well as some rare genetic disorders such as cystic fibrosis and hirschsprung disease. Luckily due to genetic testing prior to your baby’s birth, cystic fibrosis may already known. (ChildrenMD.org)

Abnormal Poo

Diarrhea

Baby diarrhea constitutes the following according to Babycentre:

  • Runny poo
  • Pooing more often and in larger amounts
  • If it’s explosive or spurts from your baby’s bum

Diarrhea could be the cause of:

  • Too much fruit or juice
  • A reaction to medication
  • An allergy or sensitivity to food
  • An infection, such as gastroenteritis

Baby’s can have a reaction to the type of formula provided to them. You will want to check in with their pediatrician in regards to any recommendations to change the brand to rule out any other reasons for the diarrhea.

In older children, diarrhea can be a sign of severe constipation where the diarrhea forces its way around the hardened stool. According to Babycentre, diarrhea should clear up within 24 hours and if your baby has more than six diarrhea episodes, you should take him/her to see his/her pediatrician.

For a more visual idea of good and bad poo, take a look at this guide from Babycentre.

Here’s hoping to some pooptastic days for your little one!

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