Some people poop every day. Multiple times a day. Others poop every other day. Or even every several days. Digestion is a strange thing, let me tell you!
And this is the case with babies too.
When you’re a new parent, you will be changing diapers a LOT. Some will have a pee. Some will have poop. Some will have both.
Sometimes, you’ll notice your baby is farting up a storm, but there’s no poop. Should you call the doctor? That’s what I’m here to discuss today…when should you worry about your baby’s poop? Is it ok if your baby hasn’t pooped in 24 hours? 36 hours? 72 hours?
Spoiler alert: No need to worry! Digestion is a normal process that sometimes has what seems like unusual functions.
Babies can get constipated, with as many as 30% of all kids having regular constipation. This sounds like an oxymoron, but there it is.
Your baby may be gassy and not poop because of constipation.
BUT! She may also get gassy in the between time from poop to poop without being constipated. Often, that’s from gulping down air when she cries.
Breastfed babies rarely, if ever, have constipation. So, if you’re nursing your baby, you will likely not have these constipation woes. Changes in your milk may affect the frequency of her poops, though.
After 6 weeks, your breastmilk loses the protein known as colostrum, that liquid gold that helps boost your newborn baby’s immunity. Colostrum also has a laxative-like effect, making it easy for the baby to poop.
As such, you may notice poop several times a day from a breastfed baby. As the baby gets older, though, you will see that the frequency of pooping declines around the 6-week mark.
Formula-fed babies may get gassy when they gulp down air (like when they cry). It can also be caused by changing the formula you’re using.
Gas is normal for all babies, and some are gassier than others. The key is watching for other symptoms. After all, when you pass gas, are you always in agony? No? Then you’re fine. Just like your baby!
Things change for ALL babies around 6 months when they start ingesting solids. They may get gassy without pooping. When a newborn is not pooping but passing gas, it is tempting to assume the worst.
However, if you are introducing solids, the best way to tell if it is a food bothering your baby is to introduce one thing every several days to see if it is causing a problem with gas or poop for your baby.
Understandably, you want to give her sweet potatoes and everything else under the sun. But slowly introduce these foods, and if they cause a problem, you will know exactly what it is!
Now, your newborn is not pooping but is passing gas… what’s happening? Most of the time, it’s totally normal! Relax, Mama! I’ve got you covered about when to worry about baby not pooping.
How long can a newborn safely go without pooping?
As mentioned, breastfed babies will have about 5 dirty diapers a day. However, as long as there is one dirty diaper every few days to several a day, this is considered NORMAL.
At 6 weeks, that pattern may change. Your baby may not poop every day. She may go 2 or even 3 days before she poops again.
Meanwhile, other babies (like both of mine) will continue to make poop several times per day in that first year.
I must tell you all this with intensity…IT IS NORMAL!
In fact, after the age of 6 weeks, it is not necessary to keep up a poop count if your baby is happy and continuing to gain weight and length. Poops will vary from day to day in frequency, too, ALSO NORMAL!
As you can see, there is a wide range of what normal is for poop frequency.
Formula-fed babies will generally poop 3 to 4 times a day. However, some of them can go for 3 to 4 days without making a single poop.
No panicking, Mama! As long as those formula-fed baby poops are soft (not runny) and your baby isn’t straining to make them, you do not need to worry.
WORRY WHEN YOUR BABY DOESN’T POOP FOR MORE THAN 5 DAYS. That’s when you should call the pediatrician.
At any age, here’s when to call the doctor about not pooping
Remember, digestion is different for everyone and can vary from day to day. Look at your own digestion, and you should easily see that. If the baby is not pooping but passing gas, don’t worry. Babies older than 6 weeks that are not breastfed are more prone to constipation, but just because your baby doesn’t poop in a few days doesn’t mean she’s constipated.
You MUST call your pediatrician if a newborn under 6 weeks of age isn’t pooping. Babies of ANY AGE constipated longer than 5 to 7 days, especially if they have other symptoms, will also need you to call the doctor.
So, there you have it…if you do not see poop in these instances, that is when you call the doctor. Try not to worry, though, because it will all be fine.
How long can a formula-fed baby go without pooping?
Again, formula-fed babies will poop several times a day. But that wide range of normal also means some may not poop for 3 or 4 days. The key here is what the poop is like. If your baby’s poops are soft and don’t cause a struggle coming out, your baby is totally fine.
If you notice hard poop pellets and/or straining when your baby is pooping, that’s another story, one that you need to tell your doctor right away. If no poop has emerged after 5 days or more, you must call the doctor.
How often should a newborn poop?
You can expect newborns to have 1 or 2 poops per day in the first days. But by the end of their first week of life, that number could be anywhere from 5 to 10 poops. PER DAY!
A baby may poop after each feeding, which is totally normal. And as I mentioned above, the number of bowel movements she has may decline as she eats and her digestive system develops in that first month.
At 6 weeks of age, though, your baby may not make a poop every single day. This is no reason to call the doctor unless you notice your baby seems to be uncomfortable or in pain or isn’t growing/gaining weight. It’s also problematic when she does poop if it’s hard.
What’s normal for baby poop?
Baby poop is a window into a baby’s health. It will change in frequency, color, texture, and odor in the days, weeks, and months that follow.
Your baby’s first poop is called meconium, a thick, mostly black, and sticky goo. It will change to yellow or yellowish-brown in the next few days.
The poop will be more yellow if you breastfeed your baby than a formula-fed baby. It may look like it has seeds in it too, and that’s totally normal as well. Runny or pasty textures, especially when breastfed, are typical though anything that’s liquidy that keeps coming out often is diarrhea.
If you’re wondering why the poop smells like vinegar, here are the reasons.
Is it bad if my newborn hasn’t pooped in 3 days?
Your newborn should poop at least once per day in the first month of life. Babies up to one month in age should be pooping once daily, and if not, you should call the doctor because she is likely not eating enough.
They should poop once per day for formula-fed babies, but breastfed babies may go several days on up to a week without pooping.
And for any baby aged 1 month or older, if they are not pooping or the poop comes out hard, that’s a sign of constipation. You should call your doctor about it, though it is nothing to freak out about. Everything will be just fine!
If you look below, I’ll tell you when to worry.
When should I worry if my newborn hasn’t pooped?
ANY baby under 6 weeks of age that isn’t pooping warrants an immediate call to the pediatrician. Babies of any age with constipation that continues for 5 to 7 days should be checked out by the doctor.
And if your baby of any age has not pooped for 5 to 7 days and has other symptoms, you should call the doctor.
There is a HUGE range of normal for poops. So, if you’re wondering if your baby is ok, just remember this:
- Watch for signs of discomfort. It’s ok if the baby doesn’t poop if she seems happy and comfortable, isn’t straining, and has no other symptoms.
- When poop comes out, it’s soft. It shouldn’t be hard and chalky. And the baby shouldn’t struggle to get it out.
- If a baby of ANY age hasn’t pooped for more than 5 days, call the doctor.
How can I get my newborn to poop?
Breastfed babies will be less likely to have trouble pooping. This may become an issue when they start solid foods at 6 months, but again, it is normal for a baby (or anyone) not to poop every day.
When food intake changes, you can expect this. The frequency of poop isn’t the most critical factor to focus on. If your baby seems cheerful and makes a soft poop that they don’t struggle to get out every 4 to 5 days, it’s considered normal.
Poop Alert! Here’s When to Call the Doctor (at any baby stage):
- Seems cranky or like they are struggling to make a poop
- The poop is rock-hard, is bloody, or is black
- Isn’t pooping at least once every 5 to 10 days
- Won’t eat like usual
- Swollen abdomen
You can help your child with constipation by doing a few things on your own before you call the doctor (assuming no other symptoms are present):
- Bend your baby’s knees in toward her chest repeatedly
- Give her abdomen a gentle massage
- Try a warm bath – it’s great for relaxing muscles
- A rectal thermometer may stimulate the bowels
- Give water or fruit juice
- Try pureed fibrous foods
- Give OTC meds like a glycerin suppository for newborn
About those last 3 points, I want to give a few more details on home remedies. With water or fruit juice, it should be 100% pure juice. In conjunction with the usual feedings, Apple, pear, or prune juice should be ok. These juices have a sweetener that has a laxative effect, called sorbitol. You should start with about 2 ounces of these on up to 4 ounces if needed. I recommend calling your pediatrician first before you do, though, to be on the safe side.
Regarding baby food, puree some peas or prunes (or buy them). These things have more fiber which can help the baby go effortlessly.
Babies getting onto solids can also have whole wheat or multigrain cereals, so they get that fiber. Remember, fiber helps us all go. I know if I don’t eat enough fiber each day, my digestion gets thrown off.
And for that last point, glycerin suppositories for newborns should be discussed with your doctor first, no question about that. Please do not try it without getting their guidance.
Is a glycerin suppository safe for babies?
The chance of no bowel movement after a glycerin suppository is extremely rare. While it may be scary to see bowel changes for your baby when they start solids, it’s very normal.
Glycerin suppositories can be helpful, but only when they are absolutely needed. Babies are developing all their systems. As I mentioned throughout this article, there is so much considered normal with pooping frequency.
Also, some babies may seem to strain, but it is just their abdominal muscles engaging and getting stronger. If a soft poop comes out after they strain, please don’t panic. This is completely normal.
I do not recommend glycerin suppositories for babies without your pediatrician’s direct advice. These are only meant to be used on occasion too. If your baby is constipated and not pooping, your doctor will have the best plan for getting things regular again.
In the meantime, do not worry too much about your baby’s pooping unless you’ve checked everything off on my checklist above. And even then, don’t freak out…just call the doctor, and it will all be ok, I promise!
Leslie Berry lives with her husband and two young daughters in Los Altos, California, where she loves helping other moms get comfortable with motherhood and embracing the insanity with facts peppered with laughs.
She loves eating too much sushi, exercising, and jamming out on her Fender. Read more about Leslie here.