Boots WebMD Partners in Health
Return To Boots

Newborn & baby health centre

Select a topic to explore more.
Select An Article

Babies and constipation

A baby's bowel movements may not be as regular as those in older children. Constipation is more common in formula fed babies than those who are breast fed.

In rare cases, prolonged, severe constipation can have a medical cause, such as some sort of blockage.

Hard stools or poo are also possible.

Constipation defined

There is no medical harm in the stool staying in the body for a long time, and the frequency of your baby's bowel movements does not really define true constipation. True constipation occurs when the baby's stools cause significant difficulty and discomfort when being passed, because they are very dense and hard. This definition excludes the baby who has soft, easy-to-pass stools once a week, even if they seem to strain a lot in the process.

Tips for concerned parents

  • Try a different brand of formula if you're bottle-feeding. Constipation should never be considered a reason to discontinue breastfeeding.
  • Give some extra water between feeds, especially in hot weather. If you are using formula milk, do not dilute it - follow the directions given by the manufacturer.
  • Remember that most babies with infrequent bowel movements are not truly ‘constipated’ and nothing needs to be changed.

When to worry about baby's constipation

Seek medical advice if infrequent, hard stools seem to be causing significant discomfort to your baby. However, keep in mind that infrequent but soft, easy-to-pass stools are not constipation and rarely require intervention.

Next Article:

WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on March 29, 2016

Children's health newsletter

Tips to inspire healthy habits
Sign Up Now!

Popular slideshows & tools on BootsWebMD

man holding back
Myths & facts about back pain
hands grabbing knee
How to keep your joints healthy
bowl of soup
Small changes that lead to weight loss
man administering eyedrops
Taking on eye allergies
Do you know what causes hair loss?
woman exercising
Exercises for low back pain
infected toenail
How to handle toenail fungus
bucket with cleaning supplies in it
Cleaning for a healthy home
rash on skin
Soothe skin and prevent flare-ups
mother and child
Could your baby be allergic to milk?
pregnant woman eating healthy salad
Nutrition needs before pregnancy