Are you worried because your precious little one hasn’t pooped in 6 whole days? Is your baby continually straining without any poop coming out? Making you wonder how long can a breastfeeding baby go without pooping?
As a new parent, it’s easy to become consumed about every little thing your little one does, including dirty diapers or lack thereof. You quickly notice differences in the frequency, color, texture, and even the smell of their poop.
While bowel movement says a lot about your child’s health and nutrition, the frequency can differ from one to the other. More so, it can depend on their age and whether they are formula-fed or breastfed.
In this article, we will be discussing the topic “How long can a breastfed baby go without pooping”, signs, causes, and treatment of constipation, and when to consult your doctor.
Why Do Babies Get Constipated?
Infants are still building strength in their abdominal muscles, and thus they may have to work a bit to poop. Any mom who has quite recently had a child understands this. When you are full-term and don’t have much abdominal muscle strength, it is difficult to poop.
New babies are in a similar situation, without much abdominal muscle, they have to strain to poop, even if their poop is soft. It very well may be normal for infants to push or strain just a little to pass a stool. This is their workout; they are building their abdominal muscles.
Formula-fed babies can have firm stools and may require some prune or pear juice as a laxative. Adult laxatives like milk magnesia can be risky for a newborn. Do not give an infant any other laxative unless recommended by a doctor.
Signs of Infant Constipation
The frequency of stools is not always a good indicator of constipation in infants as they can be considered normal. However, you’ll need to rely on other methods of knowing your baby is constipated. Here are signs your infant may be constipated.
- Crying in pain when stool passes.
- Grunting when trying to poop.
- More spit-up than normal.
- Fussiness due to stomach pain.
- Poop that is hard and comes out like rabbit droppings.
- Constant straining combined with a firm belly.
- Baby eating less.
Foods That Can Cause Constipation In Breastfeeding Babies
Generally, breastfed babies do not experience constipation until solid foods are introduced, and this is when they’re 6 months of age. Some foods that may be responsible for constipating includes:
- Rice Cereal: Rice is binding, which means it absorbs water in the gut, making the stool hard to pass. You should think of switching to oatmeal or barley cereal if your baby shows signs of constipation.
- Cow’s Milk: This is usually introduced to a baby at about a year.
- Bananas: This fruit is another common culprit responsible for constipation in infants. You can try feeding it to your baby pureed with some water or 100% fruit juice blended in.
- A Low-Fiber Diet: White pasta and bread are low-fiber foods. Without enough fiber, it may be difficult for your baby to pass stools.
Other factors that might produce constipation include:
- Stress: Travel, sweat, a move – these can all be stressful to a baby and cause constipation.
- Sickness: Stomach bugs can cause vomiting and diarrhea, and this can cause dehydration and constipation. Also, a common cold can decrease your child’s appetite and, because of nasal congestion, make it awkward for them to nurse. Less liquid indicates more chance for constipation.
- Powdered Formula: Feeding baby formula often can cause your baby’s stools to be firm and bulky, especially if you have the wrong proportion of powder to water.
- Dietary Changes From Breast Milk To Formula: A change from breast milk to formula can unsettle your baby’s digestive system and regularity.
- Allergy/Food Intolerance: Your baby might be lactose intolerant or allergic to the milk-protein in your breast milk or formula.
- Lack Of Water: When a baby is dehydrated, their body absorbs all the fluids they ingest, making hard, dry stools.
- Physical Irregularities: Physical irregularities, like rectum position, tightness around the anus, or an obstruction in the bowel system could be the reason behind your newborn’s constipation.
- Illness Or Medical Condition: Although uncommon, 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 hard to pass), could be the reason your baby is backed up.
How Long Can A Breastfeeding Baby Go Without Pooping?
There is a wide range of normal solely for breastfed babies. Your baby could poop right after every single feeding, or go days, or even up to a week or two without a single poop (after 6 weeks of age).
During the initial 24 hours of life, your baby’s poop is a black, tarry substance known as meconium. As colostrum changes to mature milk, your baby’s stools changes from black to greenish and then yellow, seedy, and loose.
Breastfed babies should have at least three bowel movements, just as the size of a US quarter, a day from the start. Colostrum is a natural laxative, so breast milk-exclusive babies poop regularly during the early days.
Your baby may poop less, after the first six weeks. Exclusively breastfed babies more than two months can easily go one or two weeks without a poopy diaper.
Breast milk is good for the human body and can easily be absorbed so, very little “waste” needs to be excreted from your baby’s body. Your baby gets all those good nutrients from your milk to grow, leaving you with fewer poopy diapers to take care of.
Read Also: Breastfeeding Tips For First Time Mothers
Formula Feeding Babies
Baby formula is more difficult for a baby to digest than breast milk. Thus, it is normal for formula-fed babies to have fewer bowel movements than a breastfed baby during the first few months of life.
Your formula-fed infant should be pooping around three to five times a day. After the first six weeks, babies feeding on formula typically have one bowel movement every day or every other day.
Tips To Relieve Baby Constipation
If your baby seems uncommonly fussy, hasn’t pooped in a while, has a firm abdomen, and no appetite, they may be constipated and need additional help to relieve themselves. Here are different ways to get your baby’s bowels moving:
- Warm Water Bath Or Warm Washcloth On Baby’s Belly: This will unwind and help them release some of the bowel tension.
- Try A Different Formula: Your baby may be reacting to active ingredients in the formula. Thus, it is best advised to try another brand or even a different kind of formula, such as a sensitive stomach, low-lactose, or even soy.
- Bicycle Legs: Place your baby on their back, now move his/her legs in a circular motion, emulating the motion of pedaling on a bicycle. This tip can relieve some belly pressure and get things moving.
- Change Your Diet: If you are breastfeeding, your baby could be reacting to something in your food. It is best advised to remove dairy from your diet to see if that helps.
- Tummy Massage: With your baby on her back, place your hands on her tummy right by the navel and massage gently in a clockwise circular motion. You can apply some baby lotion or oil, such as coconut oil while doing this for about 3 to 5 minutes.
If the tips mentioned above do not relieve your baby’s constipation, consult your baby’s doctor about trying the following:
- Taking a rectal temperature.
- Giving your baby some prune, apple, or pear juice.
- Using a glycerin rectal suppository.
Do not use mineral oil, enemas, or stimulant laxatives on your baby.
When To Consult A Doctor?
Consult your baby doctor immediately if none of the tips listed above worked or if you notice any of the following:
- Bloody or black stool.
- Mucus in the stool.
- White/clay-colored stool.
- Persistent crying.
- Baby refuses to eat.
- Signs of dehydration.
- The 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 her to the emergency room immediately, as these are signs of an intestinal obstruction, which can be life-threatening.
Baby Foods That Helps With Constipation
If you’ve confirmed that your baby is constipated. The next step to take is by helping to alleviate the strain on her developing digestive system. Bear in mind that you can continue to offer these foods as your baby develops into a toddler and beyond.
There is little proof to support specific foods (including high fiber ones) in treating or preventing constipation in infants. Most of these recommendations are based on evidence for older adults and youngsters.
Always remember that good practice when introducing solids to a baby is to introduce foods as single ingredients. That way, if your baby is allergic to certain foods, you’ll be able and effectively trace the source.
If your baby hasn’t tried these foods before, don’t force the process. Test them one at a time and afterward introduce combinations once you’re confident they’re well-tolerated.
- Avocado Or Sweet Potato Purée: These are easy to digest and may give your baby the kick start they need.
- Vegetables: For example broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and beans. Purée these for a dinner filled with fiber.
- Fruits: Bring on the prunes for quick work. A purée that includes a mix of prunes with a blend of pears, plums, or peaches should work magic.
- Fiber: If your little one is over 8 months of age, you can feed her whole grains like oatmeal, fiber-rich cereals, whole-wheat pasta, and brown rice.
- Water: Until 6 months an exclusively breastfed or formula-fed baby doesn’t need to drink water. Over this age, you can begin to introduce small amounts of water.
Recipes To Try
Plums And Pears With Cinnamon
Cut 2 or 3 pears and plums into little pieces. Put them in a saucepan with a small amount of water and simmer until soft. Add in a sprinkle of cinnamon. Blend thoroughly.
Sweet Potato With Apple And Peach
Cut half a sweet potato, one apple, and a large portion of a peach into small pieces. Place in a steamer basket and cook until it turns delicate. Blend until smooth.
Spinach And Apple Purée
Cut two apples into small chunks and cook in a saucepan with about 1/2 cup of water. When they’re delicate, add about 1 cup of spinach and cook another 2 to 3 minutes. Purée until smooth. This can also be prepared with cinnamon and ginger.
Read Also: How To Relieve Sore Nipples Breastfeeding
I hope this article answers your question “How long can a breastfeeding baby go without pooping?” Remember, the normal frequency of bowel movements in infants varies and is dependent on the child’s age and whether they are breastfed or formula-fed. Although, some breastfed babies poop after every single feeding, while others can go up to a week or more without pooping.
Formula-fed babies normally 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 your help to feel at ease. Try offering her a warm bath, tummy massages, bicycle her legs, or even offering her a bit of prune juice for some relief.
Always remember to consult your baby’s doctor if nothing is working, especially when 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 appreciate the lack of poopy diapers.