How Long Can Baby Go Without Pooping?

Are you worried because your precious new baby hasn’t pooped in 6 whole days? Are they continually straining and without any poop coming out?

As a new mom, it’s easy to become obsessive about every little thing your baby does, including dirty diapers or lack thereof. You immediately notice differences in the frequency, color, texture, and even the smell of their poop.

While bowel movements tell a lot about your baby’s health and nutrition, the frequency can vary from child to child. It also depends on their age and whether they are formula fed or breastfed.

In this post, we will discuss how long breastfed, and formula fed babies can go without pooping, signs, causes, and treatment of constipation, and when to consult your pediatrician.


How Often Should My Baby Poop?

Breastfed Babies

There is a wide range of normal for exclusively breastfed babies. Your baby could poop after every single feeding, or go days, or even a week or two without a single poop.

Take Note

During the first 24 hours of life, your baby’s poop is a black, tarry substance called meconium. On day two, they should have two bowel movements. Three on the third day, and from day four on, babies should have at least three to four bowel movements, the size of a US quarter, a day.

As colostrum changes to mature milk, your baby’s stools turn from black to greenish and then yellow, seedy, and loose (source).

Colostrum is a natural laxative, so breast milk-exclusive babies poop a lot more often during the early days. My girl would poop after every nursing session that first month. There were SO many dirty diapers.

Take Note

After the first six weeks, your colostrum is nearly gone, and your baby may poop much less. Exclusively breastfed babies over two to three months can easily go one or two weeks without a poopy diaper (source).

Breastmilk is perfect for the human body and easily absorbed so, very little “waste” needs to be excreted from your baby’s body. They get all those good nutrients from your milk to grow, leaving you with less poopy diapers to handle.

Formula Fed Babies

Formula is more difficult to digest than breastmilk. So, it is typical for formula-fed babies to have fewer bowel movements than a breastfed baby during the first few months of life. Your formula-fed newborn should be pooping around three to five times a day.

After the first six weeks, babies receiving formula typically have one bowel movement every day or every other day.

You Might Also Like
10 Best Baby Laundry Detergents of 2018

What Causes Newborn Constipation?

There are a few possible reasons why your newborn may be constipated:

  • Powdered formula: Formula often causes your baby’s stools to be firm and bulky, especially if you have the wrong ratio of powder to water.
  • Dietary changes from breastmilk to formula: A simple change from breastmilk to formula can disrupt your baby’s digestive system and regularity.
  • Allergy/food intolerance: Your baby might be allergic or intolerant to the milk-protein in your breastmilk or formula.
  • Lack of fluid/dehydration: When dehydrated, babies’ bodies absorb all the fluids they ingest, creating hard, dry stools.
  • Physical abnormalities: Physical abnormalities, such as rectum position, tightness around the anus, or an obstruction in the bowel system could be the culprit of your newborn’s constipation.
  • Illness or medical condition: Although rare, underlying medical conditions, such as hypothyroidism, botulism, or Hirschsprung’s disease (a condition caused during fetal development, affecting the function of the large intestine and making stools difficult to pass), could be the reason your baby is backed up (source).

Signs of Newborn Constipation

As mentioned above, the frequency of bowel movements can be all over the map for what is considered normal. Therefore, the frequency of stools is not always a good indicator of constipation in infants. Find below, eight signs your baby may be constipated (source).

  1. Crying in pain when stool passes.
  2. Grunting when trying to poop.
  3. Bloating.
  4. More spit-up than normal.
  5. Fussiness due to stomach pain.
  6. Poop is hard and comes out like rabbit droppings.
  7. Constant straining coupled with a firm belly.
  8. Baby eating less.

Relieving Baby’s Constipation

If your baby seems unusually fussy, hasn’t pooped in a while, has a firm abdomen, and no appetite, they may be constipated and need extra help to relieve themselves. Here are some ways to get your baby’s bowels moving:

  • Bicycle legs: Place your baby on their back and move their legs in a circular motion, mimicking the motion of pedaling on a bicycle. This should relieve some belly pressure and get things moving.
  • Warm water bath or warm washcloth on baby’s belly: This will relax and help them release some of the bowel tension.
  • Try a different formula: They may be reacting to ingredients in the formula. So, try a different brand or even a different kind of formula, such as a sensitive stomach, low-lactose, or even soy.
  • Change your diet: If you are breastfeeding, your baby could be reacting to something in your diet. Try eliminating dairy from your diet to see if that helps.
  • Tummy massage: With your baby on their back, place your hands on their tummy right by the navel and gently massage in a clockwise circular motion. You may use some baby lotion or oil, such as coconut oil, while you massage for about three to five minutes.

If the tips above do not relieve your newborn’s constipation, talk with your baby’s doctor about trying the following:

Take Note

Never use mineral oil, enemas, or stimulant laxatives on your baby.

When Should I Worry?

Be sure to visit your baby’s doctor as soon as possible if none of the previous tips work or if you notice any of the following:

  • Bloody or black stool.
  • Mucus in the stool.
  • White/clay colored stool.
  • Persistent crying.
  • Fever.
  • Baby refuses to eat.
  • Signs of dehydration.
  • Baby is losing weight.
  • Bowel movements look like rabbit droppings.
  • Yellow or green spit-up or vomit.

Warning

If a baby is vomiting or spitting up bile and has a distended abdomen, get them to the emergency room as soon as possible, as these are signs of an intestinal obstruction, which can be life-threatening.

The Poop Scoop

The normal frequency of bowel movements in a newborn varies from baby to baby and depends on your baby’s age and whether they are breastfed or formula fed.

Remember

Some breastfed babies poop after every single feeding, while others can go up to a week without pooping. Formula fed babies typically poop once a day or once every other day after the first month of life.

If your baby seems in pain, has hard, pellet-like poops, or is constantly straining without results, they may need help to get things moving. Try warm baths, tummy massages, bicycling their legs, or even giving them a bit of prune juice for some relief.

Always remember to call your baby’s doctor if nothing is working, you notice blood in the stool, signs of dehydration, or green/yellow vomit or spit-up.

However, if your baby is having fewer bowel movements but seems happy and healthy, relax and enjoy the lack of poopy diapers.

How often does your baby poop? Have you ever had to help relieve your baby’s constipation? What worked for you? Please share your experiences with us in the comments, and send this post to all your poop-concerned new mommy friends.

11 Reader Comments

  1. Justin

    My newborn 7 days old today had been pooping just about every feeding. Now it Has been over 24hrs since. Should I be concerned??

  2. Anna

    I was so worried when my little one didn’t poop for a week and thought something was very wrong. But after researching, realized that this is very normal for breastfed babies. I also was concerned when sometimes, my baby will have green poops but I was rest assured that it wasn’t something I needed to worry too much about. It’s great to know your resources before panicking about what a normal baby’s poop should like. Thanks for the great info!

  3. Angela Cameron

    LO had multiple digestive issues right after his birth and was were struggling hard to comfort him at any cost. He was super constipated and gas would make him cry hysterically. “Babies magic tea” saved our sanity and now he passes stool without any struggle.

  4. Abednego Gathere

    I was worried because our baby fifteen days old hasn’t pooed for over twelve hours but on your website, I read that it’s normal. Thanks for easing my worries.

    • Jenny Silverstone

      Hi Abednego,

      I’m glad you found the information you were looking for! Did your baby eventually have a bowel movement?

      Best,
      Jenny

  5. Eddie Kingmao

    Thank you for the information, my little one is just a month old and did not poop for four days. I was worried, but now I know it can be normal.

    • Jenny Silverstone

      I’m glad the article helped, congratulations on your little one!

  6. Brittany ledford

    Hello,

    I have a one-month-old son that just went from being breastfed to formula fed. Since we switched, he has been having a hard time pooping. When he does it looks almost like clay, stringy and thick, and it hurts him to push it out. I do my best to help him, but the last time he pooped a little blood came out.

    I took him to the ER, and they say that he is fine, but he doesn’t seem fine when he tries to poop. Do you have any advice?

    • Jenny Silverstone

      Hello,

      I went through something similar when I switched my oldest from breastmilk to formula. It took a little bit of time, but eventually, she did end up going back to more normal poops. You could also consider switching his formula to a different brand or product. Have you spoken to your son’s pediatrician?

  7. Amber Engelke

    My daughter is six days old, and I am supplementing my breastmilk with formula. I am having trouble producing, so she drinks mostly formula. It’s been a day and a half and she still hasn’t had a bowel movement. I know your article says it’s okay, but I’m still worried. Do you have any advice?

    • Jenny Silverstone

      Have you talked to your pediatrician? With a baby that little I recommend giving them a call, they can let you know if there is anything to be concerned about. Good luck!

Leave a Comment

422 Shares
Pin
Share
Tweet
Email
Top