What May Be Causing a Breastfed Baby's Constipation?


You already know that your diet plays a key role in how well-nourished your baby is. The foods you eat can also influence the taste of your breast milk and cause tummy troubles for your little one. If you've noticed that your baby is fussy after nursing, constipation could be the cause, and knowing the symptoms will help you remedy the situation right away.

What's Normal?

  • In the first few days of life, your newborn won't have bowel movements in the traditional sense, but will instead pass meconium, which is a black substance similar to tar. After a few days of breastfeeding, the meconium will be flushed out of the digestive tract and your baby will start having yellow or tan stools that are seedy and soft, the La Leche League reports. Until your baby is about 6 weeks old, she'll have two to five bowel movements a day. After the age of 6 weeks, what's normal falls into a much larger range, from one bowel movement every few days or up to five bowel movements a day.

Cranky Baby

  • The range of what's normal can make it difficult for you to determine if your breastfed baby is constipated. If your newborn is straining to have a bowel movement, she might be constipated. If your baby passes hard, dry or small stools and has to strain to pass them, she's probably constipated. A streak of blood along a stool and crying and crankiness are additional signs that your baby is constipated.

Potential Causes

  • Lack of fluids can cause constipation. If your baby hasn't been nursing as much and is taking in less breast milk, it can contribute to the development of constipation. If you've recently begun supplementing breast milk with formula, that can cause constipation, as well, as your baby's digestive system gets used to the change, according to the Ask Dr. Sears website. Introducing solid foods into your baby's diet can lead to constipation, also because her digestive system has to adapt to the changes in eating habits.

More to Think About

  • If you've recently introduced new foods into your breastfed baby's diet, it might help to remove them and try again in a few weeks. If you suspect that it's the formula causing the constipation, try a different brand to see if that helps. Hold off on feeding your baby solid foods for a month or two if you think that's what's causing the problem, the Ask Dr. Sears website recommends. Skip constipating foods in particular such as bananas and rice, too. If your baby is chronically constipated, make an appointment with her pediatrician, and hold off on giving any medication or suppositories without your doctor's approval.


  • Photo Credit IT Stock Free/Polka Dot/Getty Images
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