Breastfeeing and Bowel Movements

Updated on February 21, 2010
J.S. asks from Orchard, NE
15 answers

Hi there moms!! I have had wonderful help on here before, and I am need of some help again. My 4 month old DD (exclusively breastfed) was having bowel movements multiple times daily up until 2 months old, when she didn't go for 11 days. Then it was another 5 days, 3 days, days, 6 days, etc. Right now , she hasn't gone for 6 or 7 days ( I lost track) and she has been extremely fussy. Normally she hasn't been fussy when she hasn't gone. She also has not been sleeping at night like she used to, which was 12 hours. I talked to the pedi about her not having a movement and he has that it's perfectly normal as long as it's not hard. What I am wondering is: Is this normal that she is fussy? Is there anything I can do to help her have a BM? Any advice is appreciated:) Thanks!!

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answers from Minneapolis on

She's old enough to start solids so I'd buy some prunes and give her some. If that doesn't work try some Karo Syrup (like a tsp) in a cup/bottle, whatever she'll take. I need to do this with my son right now too but the prunes usually work and fast so be ready for a big BM.

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answers from Nashville on

My son did the same thing your daughter is doing. At about 1 1/2 mos he stopped going multiple times a day, just out of nowhere. My sister's baby is 2 mos older than mine and she told me about hers doing this, so I wasn't surprised, but I still checked with my doc. She said it was normal too. After the initial time when he went 5 or 6 days before having one, it was 4 days between them. I called them poop days, we didn't go anywhere til he had it because they were always blowouts. I wouldn't worry if I were you. I would not start introducing foods just to make her poop. I would not start with poop-helping foods anyways. If you keep your pediatrician up to date and it isn't hard, it should be fine. As soon as I started solids, my son got more regular. The reason I was given for this happening is that breastmilk is the perfect food and there is very little waste to be processed by the body. Please do NOT start giving her water, this can be dangerous to infants. Once they start solids, they can get constipated, and I always played with his fruit intake to make him more regular, and offered a little water, but at this age, the breastmilk should be fine for your baby.

I think the fussiness and not sleeping as well could very likely be that she is getting ready for or just hit a new milestone or might start teething soon. Whenever my son was almost at a milestone he did this. Is yours rolling over yet? If not, I bet it happens soon. Check her gums to see if they are inflamed. 4 mos is not too early to start seeing the tooth buds on the gums. If she doesn't appear to be constipated by her actions (pulling her knees towards her chest, etc) then the fussiness is probably not related to her bowel movements. Just keep an eye on everything, and keep your doctor informed of any changes.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Topeka on

Please do NOT add anything to your babies diet...the prune juice that was suggest is way too strong for a little one this age and since you are breastfeeding exclusively it would be a big shock to her system. As you know, breastmilk is the perfect food for a little long as your little one is not straining or passing hard stools, you are doing fine. Make sure you aren't eating too many foods that could tend to constipate her and she is going to be fine.
As to the not sleeping, she has hit that stage where she is more aware of the things that are going on around her now and she probably just doesnt want to "miss anything"!! Newborns sleep a lot more than older infants do...that is just the way they are wired!!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

I too agree with RM. Please don't give anything such as prune juice to make her poop - breastmilk is all she needs for at least 6 months. Introduction of other foods & drinks will increase her risk of allergy.

Anything else such as sugar, prune juice etc will be irritating her bowel, which is why it makes us poop!

Many moms find that at 4+ months, exclusively breastfed babies may be fussy, and may start to wake in the early hours. This is likely to be a growth spurt - up your fluid intake and ride with it. your milk production and her nursing proficiency will rise to the occasion I'm sure!

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answers from Seattle on

Breastfed babies do NOT have to have a BM every day. Just like your pediatrician advised this is normal. Her fussiness may be related OR totally unrelated (growth spurt, learning a new skill).
I am all for prunes and fiber for constipation, but NOT in a child this young. Adding something new now may create a problem, where there is not REALLY one right now.
One of the things I have found helpful to help my daughter (and nieces and nephews) at this age is motion. You can give her a gentle tummy rub and move her legs like a bicycle or little, gentle this age their core muscles are still really weak and having some motion will help get things in motion.
Good luck.

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answers from Duluth on

chances are, shes having a huge growth spurt. (from what i have heard this is more common in breastfed babies because breastmilk is the most perfect food for infants! CONGRATS and THANK YOU for breastfeeding btw!)
so when they grow, because breastmilk is perfect food, its quite possible that she is using every calorie to use for growth and all of that. as long as she eventually goes, and it isnt hard or bloody, this is probably just fine.

fussiness comes and goes with infants. its possible she is more hungry than you realize more often than you realize. the most important part of breastfeeding is feeding on demand because breastmilk supply is determined by the amount of times and the length of time she is activley nursing; whether for comfort or for food. so nurse her first when shes fussy; comfort nursing is just as important as food nursing because it is what boosts your supply for an upcoming growth spurt.

also, major growth developments affect baby behavior. any time she makes a milestone, it interrupts her sleep, and might cause her to be a bit cranky because even if she can roll over one way, maybe she isnt doing it on purpose, and she doesnt want to be rolled over... you know?

or maybe shes cutting a tooth! my son had pains at 3-4 months (the doctor said gums looked white, irritated, and painful or osmething like that - there was a bump to them too) so even though he didnt actually cut them until 7 months, he was feeling it long before that. try some tylenol or pain reliever at especially fussy times to see if theres some kind of teething pain.

also try bath and or baby massage during times when shes fussy. OR, try giving her a toy or something and letting her be alone. maybe she either needs attention or shes over stimulated and just needs to chill out.

pumping her legs will help her pass any gas, you pedal her legs like on a bike, and then you can push them up against her stomach - i used to do this with both my son and 2 babies ive had in my child care the past couple years and it works like a charm. sometimes, turning them on their side and stretching a leg over and doing the other side also helps.

one thing thats for sure, infants are not known for their regularity. sleep is not ever going to be stable, neither is fussiness or the lack of it. infants are continually growing and changing and just when you get used to something, they do something different. just go with the flow, listen to her, listen to your heart, and do what you know is best. you are the mom you have the instincts for a reason, and the more you use them the more they grow. i can attest to that personally. :) it works for LIFE if you keep doing it now. amazing!!



answers from Fayetteville on

There's been a lot of good advice here. I agree on it being too early to do the prune juice or even prune jar food. I would start drinking more water yourself. As grose at it is, it all comes down to the consitancy of the poop. If they are on the hard side or she cries/strains having them, then she is constipated. If they are fine and she isn't straining, then don't worry about how long she goes between. In fact, consider it a blessing that you don't have to change poopy diapers 5 times a day! :) It's not unusual for their bowel habits to change as they grow. Her fussiness may not be due to a pooping issue. Do you think she could be teething? It's not too early for that and it can definitly disrupt sleep and make her fussy. That was my first thought. Look and see if her gums are swollen and if she's drooling more. You can try giving her some teething tablets (they are natural and can be found at walmart) and see if that helps her feel better. If it does, then you've figured out what it is - her gums hurting. Keep in mind they can have teething pain for weeks, even months before a tooth actually gets through the skin. Keep in mind that their sleep habits can and do change a lot as they grow.



answers from Austin on

As you already know it is normal. Check how much water you are drinking. When I stepped up my intake of water my daughters bowel movements were a little more often. My daughter is 4 1/2 mths. She stopped sleeping 9 hours just before she turned 4 mths. We started rice cereal the following week & she went right back to sleeping long stretches. Check with your pedi about starting the cereal. They say between 4-6 mths. I would have waited longer but she hasn't gained weight like she should due to reflux. She is solely breastfed but it just wasn't enough to keep her satisfied all night anymore. Cereal is in addition to breastfeeding not to replace a feeding.



answers from Minneapolis on

So, I guess the question is, is she fussy when she does have her BM? Are they hard for her to push out? She might be fussy for other reasons - gassiness has been the bane of our existence over here.

Anyway, my DS is 6 months old now and has been pooping every week to week and a half since he was 2 months old. That was weird for me, as my first pooped several times a day. He's also been a pretty fussy/high maintenance baby ever since he "woke up" at 2 months old. I have attributed it to gassiness. I didn't worry about the length between poops because the Ped said it was fine as long as they were soft. The only thing is, when he does poop, WATCH OUT!!! It's like a volcano. I'm sure you know what I mean.

Good luck!!



answers from Portland on

R.m. is right on. I'd repeat everything that she's said.

It is not normal or usual for everyone to have a bm after every meal or even every day, even as an adult. There is no need and would, in fact, be dangerous to add anything to your DS's diet. Follow your pediatrician's advice.

If her bowel movements are soft, even tho they may be formed, she is having normal bowel movements. Fussiness comes and goes. Even as an adult, I, some days, feel quite fussy and don't know why. Fussy is normal. smile. His body is changing which could be part of his fussiness.
Try to relax and "go with the flow." (pun intended)



answers from Duluth on

My son, at 3 months, went over 2 weeks without a bm and was exclusively breastfed. It was over Christmas, so the first question my doc had was "Are you eating differently?" I looked at her like, "Well, duh!" She recommended diminishing the amount of sugar, just as a start. We were not content with this, as it didn't work, and pumped him full of juice--a TON of it. He too was cranky and irritable, as though he wanted to go. The juice did not do it (I'm talking like 8 oz over a 24 hour period, 2 oz at a time.) Finally he went. He was happy for a few days. Then it started again. At his 4 month well child, our doc suggested baby cereal. I was appalled; first of all, I was not ready to start my child on solids (despite his total interest and ability) and besides, I thought all that iron would just make it worse. She said the solids can actually bulk up a baby, and help them pass the bm. We waited a few more weeks, and after many more lack-of-bm-induced sleepless nights/weeks, we finally tried the cereal. It worked.



answers from Minneapolis on

Could she be starting to teeth? Maybe it doesn't have anything to do with her BM. Is she getting close to sitting up, or rolling over? Other milestones can cause changes in behavior and sleep.

I'd look into some other ideas, rather than assuming it's her intestines that are causing the problem. Especially if she is still having normal poops, not hard or constipated. I'd wait to introduce solids until you are certain she is ready (can sit up, is interested, etc.). I don't think adding prunes or prune juice to a BF babies diet is the best answer.

You could look into some baby yoga moves that are supposed to help with moving things through the system. My 3 BF babies were exceedingly prolific poopers, so I didn't pay too much attention to those portions of my baby/mom yoga classes. But, I'm sure if you googled baby yoga + BM you could find some ideas for massage/movement that might help.

Just an idea.

SAHM to Charlie (almost 5), Joey (3) and Rebecca (15 months)



answers from Nashville on

The poop thing isn't really that uncommon, as long as she's still having plenty of wet diapers every day. I don't think your water consumption will really have anything to do with her poop, but it won't hurt you, for sure. My oldest pooped several times a day til he wasn't breastfed anymore. At my youngest's 1 month apt, I mentioned that he wasn't pooping a ton, only about once a day. My ped said that after the first couple of weeks, some breastfed babies can go 8-10 days and it's not uncommon. I do think you might ask your ped about starting plain rice cereal. Both my older boys started them at abotu 4 1/2 months. I would pump breastmilk to mix with it. It may be that she's ready to venture on! Do not, however, give her prune juice unless instructed by your doc. That could really mess up her tummy. I'd tend to think the fussiness is more that she is hungry than constipated (especially with her waking at night), as long as her stools look the same (my husband calls them dijon mustard :-) ). good luck!



answers from Des Moines on

This happened with my kids to, and yes it can make them very fuSy.
The doctor to me to use baby enimia bulbs once every three or four days and to give them one to two ounces of sugar water each night. - was really picky about keeping the nipple for the bottle as close to mom as possible, in the end I went with the soothie bootles becuase they are eXactly the same as their binkies were. This worked starting the same day and I had babies who were happier, ate more at each feeding, and took longer and fewer naps. I have six kids ages 1,4,7,8,9, and 15.



answers from Greensboro on

PEOPLE should have a bowel movement after every meal. Little ones usually eat more often and should have more than a couple a day. Going without evacuation is not only abnormal but can be dangerous. My little one was constipated at about four months as well. I've learned a lot since then.

Your nutrition is crucial. You also need to have a very large intake of water.

Prune juice, 4 ounces a day, is what helped my little one. Some will tell you dilute it but it's not necessary. It's sweet like breast milk so babies love it. Also if anyone tells you to give your little one corn syrup DON'T. It works but it is as dangerous for a little one as honey is. My little one had a couple of days of explosive stools but then they settled down after she was cleaned out. Slippery Elm Bark is also good and safe for little ones. It balances the entire digestive tract from esophagus to anus and will not cause diarrhea or constipation.



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