Newborn babies feeding on breastmilk, formula, or both, poop at different frequencies from a few weeks old until their digestive system stabilizes with the transition to solids. 36 hours without pooping is considered normal for healthy babies.
Mothers expect to see 3 or 4 poop diapers per day at a minimum from the get-go and those not aware of baby poop frequencies will schedule an urgent appointment with their doctor if they don’t see a few poop diapers on any given day.
Breastfed babies use up most of the nutritious breastmilk they drink leaving very little waste which equates to more pee diapers but fewer poop ones.
Babies fed on formula digest the milk much slower which results in delays between poops.
The frequency of pooping can vary greatly from baby to baby but there are signs to look out for in case of any plumbing issues.
Here is what you should know about baby poop frequency and when to seek medical help.
Normal baby bowel movements
Normal baby poop covers a range of colors, smells, and textures.
The first poop diaper change is very important but can be unsettling for first-time moms.
It is normally a greenish-black color that looks like a sticky tar-like substance. This is meconium which fills your baby’s intestines while in the womb and seeing it in a diaper means your baby’s digestive system is functioning normally.
During the newborn phase, your baby will poop a few times a day which clears the digestive tract of meconium but this tempo will drop after a few weeks and last for several months.
Typically, your baby will poop once a day for every day of life. So, on day one you’ll have one soiled diaper and two on day two. This trend goes up to five soiled diapers in a day and from this poop diapers will begin fluctuating.
During phase two of the infant poop cycle which begins at about six weeks old, counting poop diapers fall away but only as long as your baby is healthy and gaining weight.
Generally speaking, in the first few months before solids are introduced, babies may poop once a day or more often but a poop every few days or even once a week is considered normal.
Regardless of the frequency of poop diapers, what is important is consistency which should be soft and easy to pass.
If the poop is watery, it might be a sign of possible diarrhea and if too firm, a sign of possible constipation.
The danger of melena in babies
Melina is very much like meconium in that it is a thick black or tarry stool.
Where meconium is the expulsion of womb fluids from your baby’s digestive system, melena often indicates bleeding in the digestive tract.
This can be very dangerous for your baby and must be seen to immediately.
Keep a sample of the stool or take pictures to help your pediatrician with a speedy diagnosis.
Breastfed vs formula-fed baby poop consistency and frequency
Your baby’s diet will influence the consistency and frequency of bowel movements.
Breastfed babies will not poop every day as they use up most of the milk they drink. After about six weeks old breastfed babies can go for a week or two without pooping.
Yes, even “normal” can be worrying.
Breastfed babies will seldom suffer from constipation because breastmilk has a built-in laxative and is also much easier to digest than formula.
Formula-fed babies may poop up to four times a day or just once every few days.
Formula milk takes a bit longer to digest than breastmilk which may result in a few poop-free days if you switch to formula before solids are introduced.
Introducing solid foods into your baby’s diet will ultimately change the frequency of their bowel movements.
Solid foods also create gas as well as a fair amount of waste which increases the tempo of bowel movements.
The different poop colors smell and textures are all completely normal for babies.
The color changes according to the food type your baby is eating which will create shades of yellow, brown, and green.
Chalky, red, or black poop can be normal too but this depends on what your baby has eaten; however, these colors usually indicate a health issue.
One disadvantage that babies have is the amount of time spent lying on their back as this causes them to strain when trying to poop.
Besides learning how to use the muscles to poop, gravity is on their side to help the process and straining is considered normal.
Be concerned if your baby stains but fails to poop and displays signs of discomfort.
Up to 30% of babies often become constipated and your baby might be gassy and eventually pass a hard dry stool.
At other times your baby might just be gassy from the food they’ve eaten.
Signs of constipation in babies
Baby bowel movements tend to keep you on your toes because in spite of what you’ve been told about babies’ poop frequency, not pooping for a few days is far from normal in an adult world.
Some signs of constipation in babies include:
- Discomfort and crying
- Loss of appetite
- Straining with difficulty or turning red without pooping
- Small hard lumps of poop
- Poop is dark and dry when and if they poop on their own.
Although constipation mostly clears away on its own, if not too severe, a little help to ease the discomfort and reopen the digestive system is recommended.
This will restore your baby’s appetite and possibly prevent other health issues from arising.
With constipation you will want to observe for the following symptoms:
- Not eating or refusing feeds
- Excess crying
- Arching the back as a sign of pain
It’s advisable to talk to your baby’s pediatrician about constipation so you’re prepared for whenever it occurs.
If you notice any of the symptoms above or your baby has not pooped for over a week, see your pediatrician immediately as constipation can lead to serious health issues.
Regular bouts of constipation must be brought to your doctor’s attention.
Home treatments for constipation
There are a number of treatments you can try at home that is considered safe but you should still get your doctor’s advice and recommendations.
If your baby is younger than three months old check with your doctor about alternative liquids such as fruit juices.
- Try 2 to 4 ounces of apple, prune, or pear juice which all act as a natural laxative.
- If your baby is on solids, try adding fiber, pureed prunes, sweet potatoes, barley, or whole-grain cereals to their diet.
- Move your baby’s legs in a bicycle riding motion as it helps to stimulate the digestive system. Alternatively, while seated, hold your up with their feet just touching your thighs which will mimic a walking exercise.
- Help your baby relax with a warm bath and a tummy massage.
- Use an infant suppository to help clear the blockage.
My baby moans and strains while pooping, is this normal?
Yes, provided the consistency of your baby’s poop is soft.
Moaning and pressing while pooping is your baby’s way of learning how to poop. The moaning will fizzle away in time.
Should I be worried if I see blood in my baby’s poop?
Whenever you see blood in your baby’s poop you need to be concerned; however, the blood may come from a cracked nipple during breastfeeding in which case you will need to treat the condition.
What looks like blood may also be food coloring from foods like beetroot if your baby is on solids or it may be an allergy to something in your diet.
But, if you are unsure of the reason then it’s best to see your doctor as soon as possible.
What does it mean if my baby’s stool is white or clay-colored?
This could be a sign of liver problems, an allergy to dairy, a stomach bug, or a reaction to a specific medication your baby is taking.
It’s best to contact your peadiatrician for a proper diagnosis.
Newborn babies will begin pooping 3 to 5 times a day within the first few weeks and the frequency of bowel movements will vary from baby to baby.
Your baby may not have a bowel movement for over a week which is still considered normal as long as feeding and weight gain are still on track.
The important factor to monitor is the consistency of the stool which should be soft and easy to pass when your baby has to go.
Mothers are advised to monitor their baby’s soiled and wet diapers to look out for symptoms of health issues that may escalate into serious conditions.
Early detection and treatment are always best.