Congratulations! You have a new little person in the house!
If you’re a newbie parent you might be feeling like you’re changing your baby’s diaper every hour. If you have other little ones, you already know that a diaper can tell a lot about a baby’s well-being, but that babies — like adults — can sometimes have common plumbing issues.
If your baby is not pooping but passing gas, don’t worry. Your baby is still getting the hang of this thing called digestion. This is a normal part of being a baby.
There are several reasons why your baby might not be pooping. This can be uncomfortable for them (and you) but in most cases it’s not a reason to worry. Here’s what to know and what to do about your baby’s gassiness and lack of poop.
In contrast to the early newborn days when it seems every diaper change is a poop, your baby will naturally poop less as they get to be a few weeks to several months old.
There is a range of healthy when it comes to how often a baby should poop. As long as your baby is feeding normally and gaining weight (1 to 2 pounds a month), don’t worry about the number of poops.
Some babies 2 months or older poop once a day or more often. Other babies poop once every few days or even once a week. Even if your baby is pooping less frequently, their poop should be soft and easy to pass when they do go.
Breastfeeding, formula, and solids
Pooping frequency depends in part on what your baby is eating.
If your baby is only being breastfed or chestfed they may not poop every day. This is because their body can use up almost all the components of breast milk for nutrition and there is very little left that needs to be eliminated. After the first 3 to 6 weeks or so, they can go even a whole week without a poop.
If your baby is formula-fed they should poop at least once every couple of days. But some babies poop every day, while some poop more often, up to several times a day. This is all within the typical range.
Because the look of your baby’s poop can vary, it can sometimes be hard to tell when a baby has diarrhea. Signs that there could be a problem include pooping more than once per feeding, or poop that is getting more watery over time. If you notice any of these signs, talk with your baby’s pediatrician or doctor.
Once your baby starts eating solid food, it’s a whole new game! You’ll soon learn which foods might give your baby gassiness without pooping and which their digestive system seems to poop out almost too quickly.
Color and texture
Pooping the rainbow is pretty normal for a baby. Different textures and smells are also completely normal.
In fact, your baby’s poop may move between several shades of brown, yellow, and green, depending in part on what they’re eating.
Chalky, red, or black poop might mean that there is a health issue. If you notice these changes, talk with your baby’s pediatrician immediately. You should tell your doctor or pediatrician if you notice blood in the poop, or if your baby looks sick.
Straining to poop
Don’t worry if your baby appears to be straining to poop. Straining while pooping is typical for young babies. This is because they are still learning how coordinate the muscles needed to poop.
Babies also spend a lot of time lying down, so gravity isn’t on their side to help pass poops!
But if your baby’s poops become hard or dry, talk with your pediatrician.
If your baby is formula-fed, poops less than once a day, and appears to be straining, this is another reason to talk with a doctor. It could be a sign of constipation.
A baby can sometimes get a little stopped up or constipated. In fact, up to
On the other hand, your baby might get gassy in between poops, without constipation. There are several common reasons why this might occasionally happen. Babies sometimes swallow air, which can lead to gas.
Some babies are just naturally gassy, just like they’re naturally cute. Sometimes a baby with stinky gas is just a baby with stinky gas. But if your baby seems to be having gas pains, bring it up with your pediatrician.
The good news is that babies who breastfeed or chestfeed are less likely to get constipated, because breast milk is generally easier to digest than formula.
If you’re nursing your baby, changes in your milk might have something to do with your baby’s poop frequency. Around 6 weeks after birth, your breast milk has little or no trace left of a yellowish substance called colostrum. Colostrum contains extra protein, antibodies, and other nutrients.
This liquid is one part of your breast milk that helps to give your newborn baby’s immune system a boost against germs. Colostrum may also
This may be one reason newborns poop several times a day. When there’s less colostrum — or none — your baby may have fewer poops.
If your baby is feeding on formula, they might get gassy if they swallow air with feeding or if you change the kind of formula you use. A baby’s new digestive system can be finicky like that.
Some amount of gas is normal for all babies, and some babies just naturally pass more gas. If your baby is gassy, it doesn’t necessarily mean there is an issue or that you need to change anything to “fix” it.
If your baby is happily gassy and not showing symptoms of constipation or other issues, it’s fine to just let them be. But if your baby seems to be in pain due to gas, discuss it with your pediatrician.
When your baby starts trying solid foods, they might get gassy without pooping all over again. Introducing solid foods and new foods to your baby can cause little digestive hiccups.
It’s best to introduce new foods one at a time. This can help you pinpoint sensitivities or foods that cause gassiness or pooping issues for your little one.
If your baby is gassy but not pooping, check for other signs and symptoms of constipation:
- excessive crying or irritability
- decreased appetite
- severe straining or turning red without pooping
- small hard poops (when they do poop)
- dry poop (when they do poop)
In most cases, your baby’s gassiness and constipation will resolve on its own as their digestive system figures things out. Sometimes, you might need to give it a little nudge.
Call the doctor
If your newborn baby (under the age of 6 weeks) is not pooping at all or very rarely pooping, see your doctor immediately. In rare cases, not pooping can be a sign of an underlying health issue. Check for other symptoms like:
- refusing feeds
- excess crying
- stomach bloating
- arching their back like they are in pain
- blood in the stool
Any time you notice blood in your baby’s stool, it’s important to talk with your doctor right away.
Babies who are older than 6 weeks will occasionally be constipated. Call your doctor if your baby has not had a poop for longer than a week or if they get constipated with hard stools more than once or twice.
Ask your doctor if you should try home remedies for your little one, like:
- liquids: If your baby is over 6 months old (age is important here!), you can give them a few ounces of water. For babies at least 1 month old, you can talk with your doctor about giving them a small amount apple or pear juice — 1 ounce for each month of age, up to 4 months. These juices have a natural sugar called sorbitol that is also a laxative. Drinking this might help soften your baby’s poop. Babies who are eating solid food can have prune juice.
- food: If your baby is eating solids, give them fiber-rich foods to help pass the poop. Try puréed prunes, sweet potatoes, or fruits. Fiber-rich foods might make your baby gassy, but they often help with the poop!
- exercise: Your baby might just need to get moving to help them poop! Moving your baby’s legs as in a bicycle motion may help rev their digestion engine. You can also try holding your baby up so they are “walking” in your lap.
- massage and a warm bath: Try massaging your baby’s stomach and body. This can help relax them and get their digestion moving. You can also try a warm bath to help them relax.
- medications: If none of the changes in feeding, diet, or exercise help with the constipation, your doctor might recommend trying an infant glycerin suppository. These have to be put into your baby’s rectum, but they may be relieved and sleep peacefully when they can have a good poop! But be sure to talk with your baby’s doctor first if you are considering this option.
If your baby is gassy but not pooping, don’t worry. These common symptoms are normal in babies as they learn how to feed and digest food. Your baby might be constipated.
Call your baby’s pediatrician immediately if your newborn baby (under 6 weeks old) is not pooping at all. Also call if your baby (of any age) has constipation for longer than 5 to 7 days or if they also have other symptoms.
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