Breastfed Baby Not Pooping

Caring for a baby, especially a newborn, can be challenging. They sleep much of the day and soon develop their own personal habits that parents must follow, including their bowel movements. In the beginning, they have dark green stools that are very sticky and come from the meconium in their bowels. As the baby gets older, the green stool turns to yellow and then to brown and is of varying consistency. But what if finding a breastfed baby not pooping at all?

Breastfed Baby Not Pooping: Normal or Not?

Actually, it is normal. Breastfed babies often go a few days without pooping because breast milk is perfectly balanced nutritionally so that little stool is made from the waste of the breast milk.

For babies who are at least two months old, not pooping for 4-5 days is not uncommon. It doesn't really mean that they are not constipated but that they have little waste to remove from their body. Those babies who have not started taking in solid foods may go up to a couple of weeks without a bowel movement, especially if they are older than 2-3 months of age.

Breast milk acts as a laxative for babies so that babies who are breastfed usually do not need to take any kind of laxative. In order to decide if a baby is constipated or not, you need to pay attention to their behavior. Is he playful and does he seem content or does he seem as though something is hurting him, particularly after feeding him or nursing him? If your baby seems to lose his appetite, has a stiff or sore abdomen and doesn't seem to be acting normally, constipation may be the problem.

Here are some experiences of mom's who have dealt with the problem of breastfed baby not pooping:

I have a baby who is three months old and is exclusively breastfed. She would often go more than a week without pooping and I would get worried that she was suffering from some kind of bowel blockage. I talked to the doctor who said that it was normal for breastfed babies to go without pooping for as many as 12 days. He said the baby is absorbing all the nutrition for growth and that as long as she was passing gas, she wasn't suffering from any type of blockage. Nikki

I have an infant daughter who is about four months old. She is only being breast fed and ever since she was about a month old, she stopped having bowel movements and has only had them every 7 to 10 days at a time. We rub her stomach and get her legs moving to try and get a bowel movement within a couple of days. This helps remove the gas stuck in her colon, so she feels better even though she doesn't have a bowel movement. Sara

My doctor told me that breast fed baby not pooping is a normal thing. My son was breastfed exclusively until he was a year old. I found that if I massaged his belly and gave him a warm bath, it seemed to help. There are some products you can get at the drug store that can help if the problem is truly constipation. But I remember it shouldn't be used until your baby has been 6 months old. Marsha

How Many Does a Breastfed Baby Usually Poop Per Day?

When a baby is newly born and is breastfed, she should have fairly frequent stools. There should be one the first day, two the next day and then 3-4 poops for the next few days. When you have breast milk and fed her normally, she will have 2-5 poops every day for the first 6 weeks.

After 6 weeks, don't worry so much if your baby has no pooping for a few days. If the baby seems healthy and happy, just relax. If the poop is soft, this isn't constipation even if it hasn't happened for several days. It is also normal for some infants to poop after every meal.

After the baby begins taking in solid foods, the poop will change and will become a lot more like adult poop.

When Should You Worry About?

Many parents still worry that their baby is suffering from constipation. If the baby is breastfed, she is not likely to ever get constipation, while formula-fed babies can have the problem.

Things you should worry about in a breastfed baby not pooping include the following:

  • Dry or hard stools that are difficult to pass
  • If the infant is uncomfortable, irritable, or cries just before having a bowel movement
  • If the infant has less than three bowel movements a week
  • If the poop and gas are foul smelling
  • If the baby has a loss of appetite
  • If the baby's abdomen is hard

Even if the stools are very liquid, it can mean that the child is constipated. It happens when the liquid stool leaks around an area of blockage in the lower bowel. You can't just assume that liquid stool is from diarrhea. It may be from constipation. So if you are still worried, call your doctor and talk with him or her.

What to Do

Actually, there are things you can do to prevent constipation in a baby and not worry about breastfed baby not pooping.

  • If the baby is eating solid foods, try to avoid foods that have no fiber in them. These include carrots, rice cereal, cheese, and bananas. Add some foods that contain a little bit more fiber in them and choose an oat-based cereal rather than a rice-based cereal.
  • Try a different formula. Some of the regular formulas can be constipating. If you switch to formula for sensitive stomachs, the problem usually goes away.
  • Use prune juice. Feed the baby about an ounce of prune juice. No more than that orthe babywill run the risk of increased gas. Juices from apricots, peaches, and pears also have a laxative effect and can relieve a baby's constipation.
  • Give the baby extra water. This is especially true for babies who are fed formula. You can give water between feedings to keep them from getting dehydrated, which can result in constipation.
  • Bicycle their legs and try abdominal massage. If you move their legs like they are bicycling and massage their abdomen, these can help get things moved in their bowel, so the baby will have poops.
  • Stimulate the rectum. Put a little bit of Vaseline on a rectal thermometer and stimulate the rectum with it. This causes a reflex that will result in a bowel movement.
  • Suppositories, stool softeners, and laxatives can work, but you need your doctor's permission. If you do it too much, the baby can become dependent on it and can have problems having a normal bowel movement without one of these things.

If the above tips and tricks don't work and your baby seems to have severe constipation, seek the advice of a pediatrician who might suggest some types of laxative like lactulose or macrogol. 

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