Congratulations! You have a new little human 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, they should still have a big poop that is 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 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 6 weeks or so they can go even a week or two without a poop.
If your baby is formula-fed they might have up to four poops a day or just one every few days.
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, dependent in part on what they’re eating. Chalky, red, or black poop can sometimes happen depending on what your baby ate, but might mean that there is a health issue.
Straining to poop
Don’t worry if your baby appears to be straining to poop. Straining while pooping is normal for 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!
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.
Some babies are just naturally gassy, like they’re naturally cute. Sometimes a baby with stinky gas is just a baby with stinky gas.
The good news is that babies who breastfeed almost never suffer from constipation, since breast milk is generally easier to digest than formula.
If you’re breastfeeding 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 protein called colostrum.
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 pas 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.
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.
Introducing new foods slowly as you begin solids 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:
- crying or irritable
- decreased appetite
- severe straining or turning red without pooping
- small hard poops (when they do poop)
- poop is dry and dark in color (when they do poop)
In most gases 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 his back like they’re in pain
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:
- Feeding. You can try feeding them more breast milk or formula if they’ll take it.
- Liquids. If your baby is over 6 months old (age is important here!), you can give them a few ounces of water. Or, talk to your doctor about giving them 2 to 4 ounces of apple, prune, or pear juice. These juices have a natural sugar called sorbitol that is also a laxative. Drinking this might help soften your baby’s poop.
- Food. If your baby is eating solid foods, give them more fiber to help pass the poop. Try pureed prunes, sweet potatoes, barley, or whole grain cereals. 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 open up tense stomach muscles. 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!
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. This can happen in babies older than 6 weeks who are not exclusively breastfed.
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.