Skip to content

Baby Q&As

  1. Expert: Dr. Jennifer Shu
    April 12th, 2010
    Could my baby be constipated?

    Constipation is defined as a decrease in the frequency of stools, or having pain with bowel movements. It may occur when there is a change in the diet, such as when babies transition from breast milk to formula or cow's milk, or when they first begin solid foods.

    Children under one year typically have one to four bowel movements per day, although if a child usually goes a few days between normal bowel movements, it is not considered constipation unless there is a change in the pattern.

    There are many signs that an infant may be constipated, including: 

    • She often skips days in between bowel movements.
    • Her poops are hard and small and difficult to pass, or may be large and painful.
    • She may have more fussiness than usual, stomach pains, a poor appetite, or small amounts of bleeding from the anus.

    Constipation may be treated by increasing fluids (such as water or 100 percent fruit juice) and fiber (from fruit, bran and other foods) in the diet. Talk to your baby's doctor about the best ways to change her diet.

    If changing her diet does not treat the condition, your pediatrician may recommend a suppository, stool softener, or laxative until the constipation improves. Babies with severe constipation may need to see a pediatric gastroenterologist, who specializes in intestinal problems in children.

    Dr. Jennifer Shu is a board-certified pediatrician in Atlanta. Her passion is educating parents on all topics relating to children. Dr. Shu is editor-in-chief of the American Academy of Pediatrics' Baby & Child Health: The Essential Guide from Birth to 11 Years and co-author of the award-winning book Heading Home with Your Newborn and Food Fights.
    web site: