So your baby hasn’t pooped in a while and is acting all irritable, and uncomfortable? As a mum, you are not wrong to feel when something could be wrong and in this case, that it may be constipation. If indeed its constipation, then it could be caused by various reasons. 

To know if your baby is constipated, you need to be aware of their bowel movement. For instance, 

  • Does he poop after every feed or once a day? 
  • Does it take a day or two before your baby poops? 

A breastfeeding baby may not have a “normal” bowel movement schedule and in some instances, you can have a breastfeeding baby pooping even once a week! A baby on solid food or formula may have regular bowel movements once each day. You need to be keen to identify if your baby has a problem.

Signs of constipation

When ill, your baby shows signs in both behavior and from her bowel movement. Here’s what to look out for to know if she is constipated:

  • Bowel movements become less frequent than usual
  • Is uncomfortable and irritable during this time
  • Dry, hard stools that are difficult to pass regardless of frequency
  • Bloody stool
  • Firm belly
  • Loss of appetite

Causes of Constipation

The bowel movement of your little one depends on what he drinks, eats, his activity and digestion level. 

  • Solid food – starting your baby on solid foods may cause mild constipation. It happens when the first food you introduce is low in fiber
  • Formulabreastfeeding babies rarely become constipated. Breast milk happens to have the perfect balance of protein and fat, so stools are mostly soft. Your breastfed baby may not have a bowel movement for several days. It is usually because his body absorbs all the nutrients. If constipated and formula fed, it is possible the formula is the problem. It’s not unusual for the protein component in some formulas to cause constipation. Seek advice from your doctor about changing brands.
  • Dehydration – Most babies being weaned become dehydrated. The body tends to absorb the little fluid available from what he drinks or eat. It causes dry and hard stools. Therefore, it is important to keep your baby hydrated. 

Stool Frequency and Consistency

What is normal in babies widely varies. Your baby may poop once a week or after every meal. The most important factor is the poop must be soft. A dry and hard stool is a sure sign of constipation. Let’s get into how your baby’s healthy poop will look like. 

  • Breastfed poop – slightly green or yellow with a creamy consistency (it may resemble diarrhea). 
  • Formula-fed poop – brownish pasty like poop. The smell is pungent compared to breastfed poop.
  • Iron-fortified poop – dark green or almost black poop
  • Solid-food poop – dark brown or brown poop thick but mushy poop (it may have chunks of food from partially digested foods). Read more here on baby poop

How to Treat Constipation

  • Help your baby do some bicycle exercises 
  • Switch formula brands
  • Switch the diet to include fiber rich foods if he is on solid foods
  • Massage your baby’s belly
  • Keep your baby dehydrated

When to Seek Help

It’s important to monitor the signs of constipation. You may need to see a doctor when:

  • Baby refuses to eat
  • Is losing weight 
  • Shows bloody stool. 
  • After 24 hours of all other signs if your baby is less than 4 months. 


#Please note that development differs from one child to another. 

#Content intended for educational purposes only, and should not be substituted for medical advice from your doctor.

Last reviewed January 2019

Sources: healthline, babycenter

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