By Health Promotion Board in collaboration with Dr. Yvonne Ng, Senior Consultant, Department of Neonatology, National University Hospital.

Your baby hasn’t had his bowel movement in a while. You’re worried that he’s constipated. Keep calm, mummy and daddy: a baby’s bowel movements can vary widely.

Breastfeeding, Months 1-4

Breast milk is rich with nutrients that are easily digested by the body. Breastfed babies are less likely to develop upset stomach, constipation and diarrhoea. That said, your breastfed baby’s bowel movements can vary over time.

For example, in the first weeks of life, a breastfed baby may pass stool with every feed—as often as 10-12 times a day. This may change when he turns one month old and he may have less frequent bowel movements, only pooping once every few days. It is normal for a breastfed baby to be pooping only once every few days, or even up to a week. Breastmilk can be absorbed by the body and has minimal waste. As long as the baby is passing gas, happy, playing and drinking milk, mummy and daddy do not need to worry!

Related: Breastfeeding Your Baby

After Introducing Solid Food, Months 5-6

Your baby may poop even less frequently after you first introduce solid food to his diet. One way to make the change easier for your little one is to introduce new foods slowly, and in small amounts.

Keep your baby hydrated with regular milk, and gradually introduce him to high-fibre foods like fruit, veggies, and wholegrains. Your little one will be pooping regularly once he gets used to his new diet, so keep calm and have patience.

Related: Baby's First Food Journey

3 Questions to Ask

Still concerned about your baby’s bowel movements (or lack thereof)? These questions might tell you whether your baby has constipation.

  1. Has your baby’s bowel movements been less frequent than usual?
  2. Does your baby look uncomfortable, in pain or in distress when he has a bowel movement, especially when it’s his first one after 3 or more days?
  3. Do the stools appear hard and dry?

If you’ve answered yes to these questions, it’s possible your baby is suffering from constipation. Do consult your paediatrician for advice. Do not give your baby a laxative or suppository without talking to the doctor first.

Big Red Flags

Please take your baby to the doctor if at any time he develops symptoms such as:

  • Stomach bloating and not passing gas 
  • Refusing to drink milk
  • Non-stop or projectile vomiting
  • Inconsolable crying with knees curled to their chest 

These may be signs of more serious problems.

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