May 19, 2024
May 19, 2024

What's the deal with baby constipation?

As you enter the wonderful world of parenthood, be prepared to become a poop expert. It's an inevitable part of the experience - you’ll master the art of diaper changes, you’ll handle blowouts like a pro, and you’ll find yourself engaging in "poop talk" more often than you thought. But when your baby is constipated, it's not fun for anyone. Don't worry, we’re here to help. Let's discuss what constipation looks like in babies, and how to keep those diaper changes flowing smoothly. And if you're feeling overwhelmed, don't hesitate to reach out. Summer Health is just a text away.
Dahlia Rimmon, RDN
Written by
Dahlia Rimmon, RDN
Content Writer
Dr. Marcy Borieux
Medically reviewed by
Dr. Marcy Borieux

How often do newborns poop?

Every baby is different and pooping patterns vary. You’ll likely see differences in bowel movements between breastfed babies and formula fed babies. There’s a wide spectrum of what's considered “normal”. Some babies poop once a day or once every few days. Others have several messy surprises in a single day.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), breastfed babies typically pass more poop than formula fed babies. Plus, newborns and younger babies may have a series of several small bowel movements in one pooping session, so it’s best to wait before diving into a diaper change.

Baby’s first poop

Your newborn’s first poop, meconium, typically occurs during your hospital stay. Meconium is composed of substances that build up in your baby's intestines during their time in the womb. This first stool is dark green, sticky, and tar-like, and may last for the first few days of their life. Whether you're breastfeeding or using formula, your baby will likely pass meconium in those early days. But if you're breastfeeding, it might help speed up the process a bit.

After a few days, your baby will have transitional stools, which can be a mixture of meconium and regular poop. After about a week, your baby should be pooping regular ol’ poop.

Baby poop rainbow

Yes, you read that right! Baby poop comes in a variety of poop colors. While some are perfectly normal, others might signal a need to consult your pediatrician. Here's a quick guide to the poop rainbow:


Beginning with the first color of the rainbow, red poop is typically a cause for concern since it’s usually a sign of blood in the stool. You may also notice poop with streaks of blood, where brown stool is mixed with blood. This can sometimes indicate an allergy or food intolerance. Other times, it may be due to some irritation at the genital area. While there's no need to panic, it's a good idea to schedule a visit to your child's pediatrician to ensure your baby's plumbing is in good shape.

Orange and yellow

Orange- and yellow-colored poops are perfectly normal, and are typically seen in the diapers of breastfed babies.


Green poop is also considered normal, especially for formula-fed babies, but you'll find it in breast milk stool too. You may also notice various shades of green. If you open your baby's diaper and notice dark green poop, it's also normal. Dark green poop is caused by bile, a substance the liver makes to help with digestion. If you’re inspecting your baby's dark green poop (never thought you'd be a poop inspector, huh?), make sure it isn't black, which is usually a sign of old blood.

Blue and purple

Just kidding! Unless you've got a baby turned unicorn, they won’t be pooping out blue or purple poo.


Black poop is usually a sign that your baby is passing bloody stools. The AAP explains that this occurs because blood changes from red to black as it moves through the intestinal tract. If you notice black stools, it's important to give your pediatrician a call.

Keep in mind that meconium, your baby’s first poop, will likely be sticky, black, or super dark green. This is completely normal and a reassuring sign that your baby’s bowels are working as they should.

White or tan

If you notice your baby has a white or tan-colored poop, let your pediatrician know right away. This could be a sign of a liver issue which would require immediate medical attention. Occasionally, white or tan poop may indicate a tummy bug, but either way, it’s important to get it checked out.

Let’s talk about poop consistencies

While some infants have loose, soft stools, others may pass more formed and pasty ones. These differences are often linked to whether the baby is breastfed or formula-fed. Here are some examples of normal poop textures and consistencies:

  • Soft and runny
  • Mushy
  • Seedy
  • Pasty
  • Formed

If your baby suddenly has very loose and watery stools, or more frequent stools, it could be a sign of diarrhea. On the other hand, if your baby consistently passes hard, pellet-like poops, it may be an indication of constipation.

Signs and symptoms of a constipated baby

If you’re unsure if your baby is constipated, here are some signs and symptoms to watch for:

  • Noticeable change in your baby's poop frequency. For instance, if your baby went from pooping four times a day to once a day. While it's normal for babies to have varying poop patterns, a significant change like this could mean your baby is constipated.
  • If your baby completely stopped pooping, it’s likely a sign that they’re constipated. If your baby hasn't had a bowel movement for more than three days, it's a good idea to contact your pediatrician.
  • Hard, pebble-like poop, or small hard pellets, can be a sign of constipation. Stools should be soft, even if they are formed.
  • Your baby is straining and seems uncomfortable. While it's typical for babies to make grunting noises during bowel movements, if your baby seems to be straining without success or appears uncomfortable, it could mean they are constipated. It’s less likely to be constipation if  straining is followed by a normal, soft stool.
  • If your baby has a poor appetite or is eating less than normal, it could be a sign of constipation.

How can I help my constipated baby?

We're happy you asked! A constipated baby is not a happy one. Here are some strategies to help ease constipation and keep things flowing:

  • Tummy massage: Gently rub your baby's belly and abdomen to relax the muscles and stimulate bowel movements.
  • Bicycle your baby's legs: This motion can help activate the bowel muscles and promote movement.
  • Warm bath: A warm bath can help relax muscles and encourage bowel movements.

If these remedies aren’t effective, consult your baby’s pediatrician about potential medications to help alleviate constipation.

FAQs: Newborn Poop

Here are some frequently asked questions about constipation and newborn poop:

Is constipation less common in breastfed infants compared to formula-fed infants?

Breastfed babies usually have an easier time with digestion, so there are less chances of constipation.

My baby is already eating solid foods. Do specific solid foods help with constipation?

Solid foods like pureed prunes, pears, apples, peaches, or plums can help relieve constipation. Keep in mind that solid foods can also cause firm stools, which is totally normal.

My baby is formula-fed. Will my newborn’s poop change if I switch formulas?

Probably. If you choose to switch to a different formula, your baby's stool color and consistency may change. If you notice some constipation with the switch, wait a few days for things to go back to normal. If your baby is still constipated after a few days, give your pediatrician a call.  

Will my baby’s poop color change when they start eating solid foods?

Yes. Your baby’s stool will change colors based on what they are eating. If your baby is enjoying pureed spinach or broccoli, you’ll likely notice green poops in their diaper!

Are breast milk stools different from formula stools?

Yes. Whether you're exclusively breastfeeding, formula feeding, or feeding your baby a combination of breast milk milk and formula, poops may have different odors, colors, and textures.

My baby's green poop looks like mucus. Is that normal?

If you open your newborn's diaper and notice green poop that is super bright, almost neon, it could be a sign of a food intolerance. Poops with streaks of mucus can signal an intolerance to milk or soy.

How long does it take for constipation to resolve?

Every baby is different when it comes to bowel movements. It might take a few days before any stool is released, or some babies might pass hard pellets for a couple of days before returning to their regular bowel movement pattern.

My baby takes certain medications and I think it's causing constipation. What should I do?

Some medications can cause changes in bowel movements. If you notice your baby is constipated after taking medication, consult your child's pediatrician.

Can I use home remedies to relieve constipation?

No. Homeopathic and home remedies such as mineral oil, enemas, constipation medicine, or  laxatives can be dangerous for your baby. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to Summer Health’s pediatricians over text. We can provide safe and gentle tips to help relieve your baby’s constipation.


American Academy of Pediatrics: Pooping by the Numbers

American Academy of Pediatrics: The Many Colors of Baby Poop

Dahlia Rimmon, RDN
Content Writer
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