Waiting for an expected poop from your newborn and not getting it, can be upsetting, frustrating, and confusing for a parent.
The one thing that you thought you could count on from your newborn, poop, is no longer showing up. You have a newborn not pooping but passing gas, what now?
- Poops per Day: What Is Normal in Your Baby’s First Year?
- Is Your Baby Breastfed or Formula-fed?
- Is Breast Milk or Formula More Likely to Cause Constipation?
- How Will I Know if My Baby Is Constipated?
- What Can I Do If My Baby Is Constipated?
- When Do I Call the Pediatrician About My Baby’s Constipation?
Newborn Not Pooping But Passing Gas: What Is Normal in Your Baby’s First Year?
A baby’s first year of life is loaded with big changes. They grow, move around more, notice more, and eat different things.
How often your baby poops is also in for big changes and will depend on what they are eating (breast milk or formula), how much and often they are eating, how old they are, how much they are moving around, and the speed at which their digestive system moves food.
When comparing your baby’s poops to your friend’s baby’s poops, a normal number of poops per day can be very different. So don’t compare poops.
There are, however, some general guidelines that can help you determine why your baby hasn’t pooped for a whole day or why your baby hasn’t pooped for five days.
It is NOT just the number of poopy diapers, but many other factors, that come into play when determining what is a normal number of poops per day for your baby.
Is Your Baby Breastfed or Formula-fed?
A breastfed newborn has the potential to poop a lot (sometimes after every feeding), especially during the first month of life.
As your newborn gets older and their digestive system becomes better at what it does, your breastfed baby may only poop once a week.
There really isn’t an absolute normal. Expect an average of 3-10 poops per day for your breastfed baby in the first month of life.
After about 6 weeks, that number of poops will usually decrease (at least 3 poops per day is considered a good rule of thumb).
What if you have a formula fed baby not pooping?
If your baby is drinking formula, 1-3 poops per day during the first month is considered to be normal.
After about 6 weeks, one poop a day or every other day is considered average. Every baby is a little different in regards to what is a normal number of poops, so always look at the big picture and not just at the number of diaper changes.
Is Breast Milk or Formula More Likely to Cause Constipation?
Babies that are breastfed are much less likely to become constipated than formula-fed babies.
Breast milk has just the right amount of everything that a baby needs and is very easy to absorb. Breast milk keeps your baby’s digestive system running like a champ.
Something to keep in mind is that breast milk is so efficiently absorbed that there is usually little waste for your baby to eliminate.
Don’t confuse constipation with good absorption in a breastfed baby. When your baby’s poop looks and smells as it usually does, pooping once every 3-5 days may be normal for your breastfed baby.
Formula is harder for a baby to absorb. Therefore, formula-fed babies are more likely to become constipated.
With so many formulas on the shelves, an ingredient (iron, milk protein) in one brand of formula may be difficult for your baby to digest or tolerate.
If you think that your baby’s formula is causing constipation, it is best to ask your pediatrician before switching your baby to a new formula.
Finding a formula that agrees with your baby’s digestive system can often put an end to your formula-fed baby’s constipation
How Will I Know if My Baby Is Constipated?
Within the first few weeks of your newborn’s life, you will become an expert on your baby. When your baby is not acting normal, it becomes obvious.
There are some signs that can help your parental intuition determine if your baby is constipated. If you find these signs occurring together, you can be even more certain that your baby is constipated.
Crying is normal in all babies, but crying while pooping is not normal.
If you see your baby straining to poop (normal) and then begin to cry ( not normal), this is a sign of constipation.
When changing the next poop, see if the poop looks normal (soft, similar in texture to peanut butter) or hard, dry, and pellet-like. Dry, hard poop (often with a streak of bright, red blood) that follows an episode of straining and crying is a sign that your baby is constipated.
Poop stinks. If you notice your newborn not pooping but passing gas and if your baby’s poop and/or gas is more foul-smelling than usual, this may be a sign of constipation.
A firm, hard belly that looks bloated is another sign of constipation.
If your baby shows some of the above signs and then becomes uninterested or unwilling to eat, this is also a sign of constipation.
What Can I Do If My Baby Is Constipated?
There are some things that you can do at home to help your constipated baby feel better and get past his or her constipation.
However, it is never a bad idea to first contact your pediatrician if you are unsure if your baby is constipated and/or unsure of what to do about it.
Dehydration is the main cause of constipation. You can increase the amount of fluid your baby is getting by increasing the amount of breast milk or formula at each feeding.
Don’t give a baby who is not on solid foods water unless your pediatrician tells you that you should.
Giving water to a newborn is not recommended and can harm your newborn (diluting electrolytes in the blood).
Babies should get enough hydration from breast milk or formula and if not, more of those (not water) should be given to increase fluids.
If your baby is at least a month old, you can add a teaspoon of prune juice to your baby’s breast milk or formula to help with constipation.
Prune juice is a natural laxative. It can help soften your baby’s bowel movements and make it easier for your baby to move them into their diaper.
Warm baths and gentle belly massages (below the belly button) several times a day can stimulate and relax the digestive system.
This can help relieve and treat constipation. Another way to get your baby’s bowels moving is to get your baby moving.
Exercise is important for regular bowel movements. Hold your baby’s feet and move his or her legs in a circular motion (baby bicycles). This is a good activity to do with your baby every day to treat and prevent constipation.
When Do I Call the Pediatrician About My Baby’s Constipation?
If the above remedies do not help your constipated baby, it’s time to call your pediatrician.
If you encounter any of the following symptoms, you should contact the pediatrician IMMEDIATELY: black (after meconium has passed), white, gray, maroon, or bloody poop; poop that has mucus or is watery; loss of appetite; weight loss; fever; and/or vomiting.
Always consult your pediatrician before giving your baby a suppository, a laxative, or an enema.
These treatments can help constipation but are only safe at specific ages.
Safety of some of these treatments may also vary depending on the severity of constipation and your baby’s medical history.
The bottom line is that it is NEVER wrong to pick up the phone and call your pediatrician if you are worried about your baby’s constipation.
Your Baby Will Poop!
Constipation in young babies can be extremely scary for parents. The best advice for dealing with constipation is to look, listen, feel, and smell.
Generally, the number of poops that you are seeing in your baby’s diapers each day is not as important as how they look and smell.
Hard and abnormally stinky poop that is coming less often is a great sign that your baby is constipated.
If you notice your newborn not pooping but passing gas, look at the entire situation. What is your baby eating?
Breast milk may not produce very much poop. It may be completely normal for your breastfed baby to poop once a week.
Feel your baby’s belly, if it feels firm and not as soft as normal and your baby is losing interest in eating, you may be dealing with constipation.
Multiple signs that present together are a better indication that your baby may be constipated than just the sign alone of your baby not pooping.
Don’t panic and stay calm. Try some of the home remedies. If you are worried or see anything in the diaper that you know is not right, call your pediatrician.
In summary, your baby will poop. With patience, treatment, time, and/or with the help of your pediatrician, your baby will poop.