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How Can I Tell if My Baby Is Constipated?

Medically reviewed by: Yamini Durani, MD

It might seem like a baby is having trouble passing poop if the baby gets red in the face or grunts or makes other noises while having a bowel movement (BM).

But it's normal for infants to strain when they poop. 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 have BMs 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 BMs, sometimes only one or two a week. Formula-fed babies usually continue to poop daily.

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

What Signs Might Parents See if a Baby Is Constipated?

Babies who cry when having a bowel movement or have hard or pebble-like poop might be constipated.

If this happens with your baby, talk to your doctor, who may recommend giving your baby a little extra water or a small amount of 100% fruit juice for babies to soften hard poop. Never give your baby laxatives, suppositories, or enemas unless your doctor tells you to do so.

When Should I Call the Doctor?

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

  • is vomiting
  • has a fever
  • seems very tired or lethargic
  • has a low appetite
  • has a swollen belly
  • has blood in the poop
Medically reviewed by: Yamini Durani, MD
Date reviewed: September 2023