Is it normal for an infant not to poop for days?

My son, was pooping – what was normal to me at the time – 3- times a day as an infant. So when my daughter didn’t poop for a week when she was 2 weeks old, everyone in the family freaked out. We learned through this experience that breastfeeding babies could go without pooping as long as a week and not considered constipated. Surprisingly, this is very common among many breastfeeding babies.

Our experience which was foreign to all the mothers in our family, who have raised a total of 10 kids started when my daughter was 3 weeks old. First 2 weeks, she was pooping 6 times a day. Right after the 2nd week check-up, she quit pooping. We tracked her bowel movements on a calendar on the fridge. Obviously, we immediately consulted our pediatrician, many times, and after questioning all the symptoms she assured us that this is the infrequent bowel movement, seen very commonly in many infants and babies.

Here is the summary of what I’ve learned about infrequent bowel movement in babies, from doctors, nurses, other mothers and the reliable source on the internet:

  1.  Infrequent bowel movements are common occurrences in many breastfeeding babies.
  2. Doctors do not call this “constipation”. A baby is considered constipated when his/her stool is hard and looks like marbles. If stool is mushy, soft, mustard color and sometimes seedy, it is considered normal.
  3. Infrequent stools might be a sign of high utilization of the breast milk during the digestion process. It might also be the result of intestines not being completely developed.
  4. If there is not significant change in the baby’s nursing, weight gain and mod, this is not a sign of a health problem.
  5. Infrequent pooping at this age is not an ominous sign of future intestine issues.
  6. In general, it lasts until 4th or 5th month.

We accepted that her condition was normal at the end of the 3rd month. Yes, 3rd month. it doesn’t seem to be bothering her except towards the end she grunts as if she’s trying to pass gas. Otherwise, she eats and sleeps her normal schedule and frequency.

Until we got to the “acceptance phase”, here are some home remedies we tried to relieve her:

  1. A nurse recommended us to give her 1 oz. white grape juice, diluted with 1 oz. water. She advised against prune juice since my daughter was really small.
  2. I drank a lot of chamomile and fennel tea.
  3. We rubbed her tummy with special oil mixes with chamomile and lavender.
  4. We used suppository twice but later our doctor told us not to use it unless she showed “constipation symptoms” (see above).
  5. We rubbed a little bit of olive oil around her bottom, to help her relieve easier.
  6. We massaged her tummy and legs daily.
  7. Every morning, I held her up the toilet, in a squatting position, cuing her with sounds, as they explain in the Diaper-free Baby book.

Realizing that however we try, she poops once a week, in normal quantities, normal density, we decided to follow her cues. I try to catch her right before doing her business and anchor sound cues to help our “elimination communication” efforts.

My advice to all the parents whose babies show similar symptooms with infrequent bowel movements, to consult their pediatrician first. In rare, cases it might be a sign of a serious problem. However, in most cases, it is common, not health threatening and goes back to normal around 4th or 5th months. If you doctor confirms your baby has infrequent stool, do not push or bother her/him to poop more frequently.

Disclaimer: This information is based on my own experiences and knowledge. I am not and do not claim to be a doctor or other health professional.  The information presented herein is not presented with the intention of diagnosing or treating any disease or condition. No responsibility is assumed by the author nor anyone connected with this website for the use of this information and no guarantees of any kind are made for the performance or effectiveness of the recommendations provided. Please consult the appropriate professional for proper diagnosis and treatment.


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