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How Can I Tell if My Baby Is Constipated?

It seems like my baby has trouble passing his poop. His face usually turns red and sometimes he grunts or makes other noises. He has BMs regularly, but I'm still concerned. Could he be constipated?
Keisha

It's normal for infants to strain when they're having a bowel movement (pooping). Pooping is more of a challenge for them because they are lying flat, so don't have gravity to help move things along.

At first, breastfed babies tend go more often than formula-fed babies because breast milk is more easily digested. At around 3–6 weeks of age, though, breastfed babies may start having fewer bowel movements, sometimes only one or two a week. Formula-fed babies usually continue to have daily BMs.

Your little one probably isn't constipated if the stool (poop) is soft, no matter how often the bowel movements happen or if your baby strains to pass them.

Babies who cry when having a bowel movement or have hard or pebble-like poop might be constipated. In that case, talk to your doctor, who may recommend giving your baby a little extra water or a small amount of 100% fruit juice to soften hard poop. Never give your baby laxatives, suppositories, or enemas unless your doctor tells you to do so.

Call the doctor if your baby's symptoms don't get better. Call right away if your little one has:

  • vomiting
  • a fever
  • tiredness
  • a low appetite
  • a swollen belly
  • blood in the poop

Reviewed by: Kate M. Cronan, MD
Date Reviewed: 03-09-2019

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