Baby’s Bowel Movements - - Parent Education Resources - Women’s Services - Medical Services and Programs - Seton

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How should my baby's bowel movements look?
Sometimes your baby's bowel movements will tell you if he or she is getting sick.

  • Breastfed Babies: While your baby is eating only breast milk, your baby’s bowel movements will be soft, yellow and loose.
  • Bottle-fed Babies: Your baby's bowel movements should be soft and may be brown, yellow or green.

How often will my baby have a bowel movement?

  • Breastfed Babies: Your baby may have many bowel movements a day After one-to-two months, your baby may only have a bowel movement once a day or every two-to-four days.
  • Bottle-fed Babies: All babies are different. Your baby may have one-to-four bowel movements a day or only one bowel movement every other day.

Learn what is usual for your baby. Iron may make your baby's bowel movement darker in color. When you baby starts on solid foods, baby's bowel movements may become firmer and may change color.

How long should my baby go without a bowel movement?
If your baby has gone two-to-three days without a bowel movement or if baby's bowel movements are very hard and look like small pellets, the baby may be constipated. Your baby may also be straining and grunting when trying to pass a bowel movement.

What do I do if my baby is constipated?
Offer your baby 1/2-1 ounce of water between feedings. Constipation is not an emergency but you will need to call your baby's Health Care Provider if your baby does not have a bowel movement after you feed your baby extra water for a day. If your baby has started on solid foods recently, stop the solid foods and keep feeding formula or breast milk. Watch to see when your baby has a bowel movement, if your baby has a bowel movement, slowly restart the solid food again in smaller amounts. If your baby becomes constipated again, call your baby's Health Care Provider.

How do I know if my baby has diarrhea?
Diarrhea is very loose, watery, or explosive bowel movements that look like colored water with very little formed material. These bowel movements may happen soon after a feeding.

What do I do if my baby has diarrhea?
Call your baby’s Health Care Provider at once because your baby can get sick very quickly. Your Health Care Provider will decide if you should continue to feed your baby formula or breast milk, or feed him some other kind of fluid like Pedialytem or Ricelytem (these are special clear fluids with the correct amount of sugar and minerals for your baby).

Do the following:

  • Learn what your baby's bowel movements usually look like.
  • Call your Health Care Provider if your baby's bowel movement looks or smells different.
  • Learn how often your baby usually has a bowel movement.
  • Call your Health Care Provider if your baby has very watery, loose, explosive bowel movements.
  • Call your Health Care Provider if your baby does not have a bowel movement after giving him extra water between feedings for a day.
Call your Health Care Provider if your baby does not have 4-5 wet diapers a day.
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