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How Long Can a Baby Go Without Pooping? Baby Constipation

Medically Reviewed by Michelle Roth, BA, IBCLC
Everything you need to know about infant constipation.

When it’s been days since you last had to change your baby’s dirty diaper, you might begin to worry. Although, if you’re honest, you may also be a little thankful to have avoided any public blowouts and poop-stained clothing.

We’ve all been there, wondering what’s normal, worrying that our baby is uncomfortable, questioning the cause of their possible constipation and how it will affect them.

Knowing when you need to take action can prevent much worry and empower you to make the best choices for your baby. So we asked the experts and wrote this article to discuss how long breastfed and formula-fed babies can go without pooping. We’ll also outline the signs, causes, and treatment of constipation and let you know when you should consult your pediatrician.

Key Takeaways

  • The frequency of bowel movements in infants can vary widely and still be considered normal.
  • For exclusively breastfed babies, it is normal for them to poop after every feeding or go days or even a week or two without a single poop after six weeks of age.
  • For formula-fed babies, it is typical for them to have fewer bowel movements than a breastfed baby during the first few months of life and to typically have one bowel movement every day or every other day after the first six weeks.
  • Possible causes of constipation in infants include powdered formula, dietary changes from breastmilk to formula, allergy/food intolerance, lack of fluid/dehydration, physical abnormalities, and underlying medical conditions.
  • Signs of constipation in infants include crying in pain when stool passes, grunting when trying to poop, bloating, more spit-up than usual, fussiness due to stomach pain, and hard or pebble-like poop.

How Often Should My Baby Poop?

Breastfed Babies

There is a wide range of normal for exclusively breastfed babies. Your baby might poop after every single feeding or go days — or even a week or two — without a single poop (after six weeks of age).

During the first 24 hours of life, your baby’s poop will be a black, tarry substance called meconium. Breastfed babies should have at least three bowel movements, the size of a U.S. quarter, within their first 24 hours. As colostrum changes to mature milk, your baby’s stools turn from black to greenish and then yellow, seedy, and loose (1).

Colostrum is a natural laxative, so exclusively breastfed babies will poop a lot more often during the early days.

Take Note

After the first six weeks, your baby’s bowel movements may decrease in frequency. Exclusively breastfed babies over two to three months of age can easily go one or two weeks without a poopy diaper.

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

Formula Fed Babies

Baby 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.

What Causes Infant 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 (2).

Signs of Infant Constipation

As mentioned above, the frequency of bowel movements can be all over the map and still be considered normal, so this is not always a good indicator of constipation in infants. Here are eight other signs your baby may be constipated (3).

  1. Crying in pain when stool passes.
  2. Grunting when trying to poop.
  3. Bloating.
  4. More spit-up than usual.
  5. Fussiness due to stomach pain.
  6. Poop that 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 has no appetite, they may be constipated and need extra help to relieve themselves. Here are some ways to get your baby’s bowels moving:

how to relieve baby constipation

  • 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: Your baby may be reacting to ingredients in their formula. Try a different brand or 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 baby’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.


If a baby is vomiting or spitting up bile and has a distended abdomen, take them to the emergency room as soon as possible as these are signs of an intestinal obstruction, which can be life-threatening (4).

Baby Constipation FAQs

How Long Is It Ok for a Baby to Be Constipated?

To sum it up, here’s how long it’s okay for breastfed babies to go without pooping:

  • Before six weeks – A few days
  • After six weeks – More than two weeks

Here’s how long formula-fed babies can be constipated:

  • Before six weeks – More than 2-3 days
  • After six weeks – More than 3-5 days

What Foods Make Baby Poo?

You could always try a bit of prune juice. Prunes are a great natural laxative, and people of all ages can attest to their effectiveness. Chia and flax seeds can also be miracle workers for your baby’s constipation.

How Do You Massage a Baby to Poop?

To massage your baby to help them poo, start by laying them on their backs. For about 5 minutes, gently massage right by their navel.

Use a clockwise circular motion with your hand, hopefully relieving your baby. If you want, you can use either some baby lotion or baby oil during the massage.

Does Tummy Time Help With Constipation?

Tummy Time can help with constipation! It can help stimulate your baby’s digestive system to be placed on their belly. The gentle pressure on their tummy can help them pass stool and eliminate excess gas. Try this method if your little one is backed up!

How Often Can I Give Mommy’s Bliss Baby Constipation Ease?

Ensure you aren’t giving your baby Mommy’s Bliss Baby Constipation Ease more than two times a day. Also, this constipation medicine isn’t meant to be a permanent fix.

It’s only meant to help your baby’s digestive system get back on track. If your baby’s constipation doesn’t clear up after a while, it may be time to take them to the hospital.

How Do Hospitals Treat Constipation in Babies?

If your baby needs to go to the hospital for constipation, the doctors will use an enema to help relieve them. Enemas break up stool with water, making it easier to pass through the digestive system. Doctors treat patients of all ages who suffer from constipation this way.

The Poop Scoop

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.

Call your baby’s doctor if nothing is working, if you notice blood in the stool, if you see signs of dehydration, or if your baby has 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.

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Headshot of Michelle Roth, BA, IBCLC

Medically Reviewed by

Michelle Roth, BA, IBCLC

Michelle Roth, BA, IBCLC is a writer, editor, and board-certified lactation consultant for two busy pediatric practices. She is a former La Leche League Leader, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, and Certified Infant Massage Instructor.