What is a normal pooping routine for a newborn?
You are probably pooping once daily and considering that your newborn baby should do the same. Well, if he does, it’s ideal. But it is not the case most of the time.
The pooping routine in babies is highly variable and depends on the feed and age. So it can be pretty normal that your newborn is not pooping but passing gas for a week. A newborn can poop after every feed, and it is okay. But it also can vary from up to 6 times per day to once every week and still just be okay.
Newborns go through many transformative changes during the first year of their life. Generally, a baby poops about four times a day during the first week. Then poop frequency gradually decreases until it reaches one to two formed poops per day around two years of age. So comparing poop frequency to any standards or a friend’s baby schedule is not advisable. Where your friend’s baby can poop 3 to 4 times a day, your baby can poop only once a week and still be fine. Generally, breastfed babies poop more often as compared to formula-fed babies.
Newborn not pooping but passing gas is less scary unless it spans greater than a week. However, suppose the newborn is not pooping and not passing gas. Usually, these situations come in hand with other symptoms like irritation, crying, vomiting, and food hesitation. In that case, it is not a normal condition, and you should consult the doctor.
What causes the pooping routine to be so variable?
Usually, the newborn poops almost always after feeding during the first couple of months. This is because of Gastrocolic Reflex, an urge to pass poop when starting to eat. It is a natural phenomenon that occurs when babies start feeding. Immediately, their colon (large intestine) starts moving faster to make space for incoming food. So a baby can defecate up to 6 times in one day. As he grows, feed times space out, and it takes a longer time to poop.
The second thing that impacts the duration of poop is the type of feed. But, it comes into play a little later in life. Initially, the majority of the babies are fed on breast milk which is an ideal meal for the newborn. It contains most of the essential ingredients, and all the ingredients are easily absorbed by the maturing gut. Above all, it has a natural laxative that avoids any risk of constipation.
Yet, these qualities aren’t present in the baby formula and first solid foods. Thus causing the pooping duration to be prolonged. It makes breastfeeding in the initial life even more critical.
Breastfed baby constipated
Although breastfeeding is the best meal for the baby, the baby can still develop constipation. This means your newborn is not pooping for more than 4 weeks or is not passing any gas either. Besides, the newborn also shows signs of constipation, including;
Feels pain while passing poop
Not passing poop at least once a week
Passing hard and bigger than normal stool
Arching their back and/or crying
Small pellets like stools (sheep poop)
Passing fewer poops, like a baby who used to pass three to four poops per day, is passing only one poop in four days.
All these are the signs that your baby is suffering from constipation. But, it may not be severe, especially if it resolves within a few days.
Things you can do to soothe your baby
Being a mother is definitely a worrisome condition for you. You must be looking for ways to help your baby soothe. Here is what you can do:
Change the formula feed
It is commonly thought that iron in formulas causes constipation. Iron in most formulas comes in tiny amounts and does not cause constipation. Therefore, a change of formula does not help with constipation. Always consult your doctor if you want to change the formula.
Freshly squeezed fruit juices help relieve the constipation of small babies but do not give this juice to smaller than two months old. One to two ounces (30 to 60ml) of 100 percent freshly squeezed orange juice every day for up to one week relieves constipation. Give orange juice only once a day and not more than 7 days in one row.
Similarly, prune, apple, and pear juices work for constipation. Still, these are for bigger children who are four months old and above. Recommended amounts of the juice are two to three ounces (60 to 90mls) of juice for four to eight months old and up to six ounces for eight to twelve months old. Always remember not to give too much juice to your baby. It can affect the overall diet proportion of your baby.
Brown sugar/dark corn syrup
Some home remedies might be effective against constipation.
Brown sugar and dark corn syrup have complex sugars in them. Because of that, they help the gut retain the water to keep the poop soft. There is a variety of these remedies available in the market.
Add water to the diet
Nothing wrong comes from drinking fresh water. Make sure you add water to your baby’s diet when your baby is one year or older. Not only does it help to make the stool soft, but it also helps your baby stay hydrated.
Relax the opening
The stools have to come out of the anal opening, which can be a little tight due to the immaturity of the age. But, you can help your baby loosen the muscles and make it easier for the baby to defecate without straining. There are a few ways to do that:
Move the baby’s legs in a cycling-like motion and then lightly press the knees against the belly.
Gently massage the lower part of the baby’s belly in a clockwise motion.
Use a cotton swab or a thermometer tip, adding Vaseline to it, to gently massage around the anus of the baby.
All these maneuvres are effective and help the baby defecate with less straining.
Change up foods
A simple rule is that fruits and vegetables relieve constipation while cereals and dairy products deprive bowel movement.
Never use laxatives unless prescribed
With a constipated baby, one may think of using laxatives for relief similar to adults. However, these laxatives are not safe for newborns because of their immature digestive systems. So you should not use any artificial laxatives without medical advice.
Newborn not pooping but passing gas: when is the time to see the doctor?
Your baby can go up to a week without pooping. But if your baby is starting to look ill, you should not delay consulting a doctor. Typically you should never wait longer than 3 days if your newborn is not pooping and neither passing gas. However, if the baby is showing the following signs, it means an emergency condition:
- Your newborn is excessively vomiting.
- There is blood in the stools.
- Your baby is crying a lot and refuses to feed.
- There is an unexpected weight loss.
- Either whole of the body or just the belly is starting to swell abnormally.
You should not wait and rush to a doctor for a complete checkup in such circumstances. These situations are always scary but can be treated if caught in time.