Baby Pooping A Lot? Normal Baby Poop Frequency & By Illness


Is your baby pooping a lot? Frequent bowel movements in babies can be completely normal or may be caused by illness. Let’s take a look at possible reasons and remedies here.

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Mom’s Question:
My 10-month-old baby is pooping a lot – even 5-6 times per day. He has no fever and appears happy. Is this normal?

I am afraid he is not gaining any weight because of the frequency of the bowel movement. Could that be the case?

New Mom


 

Why do Babies Poop A Lot and When is It Normal?

The Normal Range of Bowel Movements in Babies and What Affects It

What causes a baby to poop a lot..? Pooping frequency is dependent on the baby’s age, diet, and metabolism. Therefore, all these aspects need to be considered to assess whether your baby’s pooping frequency is likely to be within the normal range or not.

What we have to take into consideration when the baby poops are the following:

  1. Is he exclusively breastfed?
  2. Is he on formula?
  3. Is he on breastmilk AND formula?
  4. What is the ratio of formula milk to water?
  5. Has he started solids?
  6. Does he eat meat or carbohydrates?
  7. Does he eat fruits? If so, what fruits does he eat often?
  8. Does he have other signs and symptoms such as fever or vomiting or dryness of skin or drowsiness?
  9. Is his abdomen distended? Does he pass gas often?
  10. Is he crying a lot?

All the answers to these questions influence how often the baby poops, and how his poop comes out (formed or not).

Normal Pooping When Newborn

A newborn baby who is purely breastfed will poop right after every feeding. This is because the breastmilk makes the poop soft. This is completely okay, for this is very normal. Later, a fully breastfed baby may have a very infrequent bowel movement, because they digest all the milk they consume. You can read more about babies that are not pooping here.

If the baby is started on formula your baby is not likely to be pooping after every feeding. In addition, the risk of constipation and hard poop is higher than with breast milk. Sometimes, the baby may not poop for days. This is because formula milk is harder to digest.

Normal Pooping After Solid Foods have been Introduced

A baby who has started on solids but still breastfeeding may poop more frequently, but it may still vary from one baby to another. As mentioned earlier, his diet (solids) can directly influence how his poop comes out and how often he poops. For one, the poop can still be soft in consistency but may poop less frequently since he has started on solids but still breastfeeding.

Another cause may be: he is on formula and has started solids, making the poop formed and less frequent pooping.

So, how many times per day should a 10-month-old baby poop?

By 10 months old, the frequency of bowel movement in babies is mostly regulated. Hence, 1 to 2 episodes of bowel movements is the normal range for 10-month-old babies (however, depending on what foods he or she eats). The share of breast milk or formula will also affect their pooping.

By the time the baby is a year old, his/her bowel movement often decreases to one episode per day.

The Type of Solid Foods Will Affect a Baby’s Bowel Movement

Babies eating more fruits than food rich in carbohydrates may poop more frequently than those who eat more carbohydrates (i.e., rice, bread). However, some fruits make the poop more solid and make the baby poop less frequently (i.e., banana, blueberries, guavas).

The amount of fiber in the baby’s foods will also affect the stools.

It is very easy to give babies too much fiber-rich food because we all know that these are more healthy in general. But babies’ tummies can’t handle too much fiber and the child may get diarrhea or at least very soft and frequent bowel movements.

The remedy, in this case, is easy. Cut down completely on fiber-rich foods, and you are likely to see an improvement within days.

If the poop is very hard and therefore frequent, he is, of course, more likely to be somewhat constipated, and instead, more fiber-rich foods will help him.

You can find many ideas on fiber-rich foods in this post.

What to do if a baby is suddenly pooping a lot (more often)

Since you are writing here to ask about it, I assume that your baby’s pooping has changed suddenly. And in such a case, it can be a good idea to find out why and if there is something you should do about it.

The most common questions or clues you could look for in your baby should be:

  1. Consistency – is his poop watery? Soft? Hard? Mucoid? Bloody?
  2. Frequency- is it more than the normal range of 1-2 bowel movements per day?
  3. Accompanying signs or symptoms – is he feverish? Is he vomiting? Are his eyeballs deeper than usual? Is he more drowsy than usual? Is there a loss in appetite?
  4. History of food intake – did he eat something new today? Did he drink something he shouldn’t have?
  5. Cleanliness of his plates or cutlery or feeding bottles – were they washed properly? Are the drying racks for feeding bottles clean? Were the feeding bottles sterilized?
  6. Poop odor – does it smell like normal poop? Is it fishy in odor?

If your baby’s poop is watery or mucoid or bloody, with an unusual smell, and he is exhibiting accompanying symptoms, it is best to call your doctor. This may indicate infection.

Here are some other possible reasons for frequent bowel movements in babies and what to do about it.

Illness-Related Reasons When a Baby is Pooping A lot

Food Intolerance or Allergy

Babies who have lactose intolerance may poop more than usual. Mostly these babies have watery to soft stools. However, they usually do present other symptoms too, such as bloating, tummy pain, and other symptoms that you can read about here. Additionally, lactose intolerance is usually presented during earlier stages in infancy, so it will be unlikely to present in 10-month-old babies.

On the other hand, when you shift your baby to another formula milk, it can sometimes cause loose bowel movements, increasing in frequency. You can always talk to your pediatrician about this.

The baby may be allergic to certain milk proteins (think if you have introduced dairy recently?) or have a celiac disease, which is defined as wheat protein hypersensitivity (Have you introduced grains?). 

You find symptoms of cow’s milk allergy here.

Food like shellfish or soup in coconut milk can also solicit an allergic reaction when introduced initially to babies.  It is always best to introduce new foods gradually to babies, at small portions at a time. Read here about foods to avoid for children younger than 12 months.

Think back to when it started and see if you can find a connection with the introduction of some type of food. Then try excluding it from his diet and see if it helps.

Baby Pooping A Lot Due to Teething?

Can a baby be pooping a lot due to teething? While teething is, of course, not an illness, it may actually trigger an inflammatory response.

Diarrhea in babies has been attributed to teething.  This is because of the inflammatory response in the baby’s body triggering a cytokine reaction. This in turn can affect the bowel movement of the baby, hence the occurrence of diarrhea. But this is not the case for all babies. Other babies may manifest fever, drooling, irritability, without diarrhea.

(For more baby teething symptoms, read this article.)

You can just give your baby analgesic or anti-inflammatory medications. Probiotics and zinc can help, too.

If you think your baby is pooping a lot because of teething, then there is nothing at all that you need to do. His pooping frequency will go back to normal once the teething is over for this time.

Baby Pooping A Lot After Vaccination

Maybe not know to everyone, a fairly common side effect after the rotavirus vaccination is mild, temporary diarrhea. Vomiting can also occur. Find additional vaccination side effects here.

Infections/Anatomical abnormalities/Illnesses

Acute gastroenteritis, or more commonly known as diarrhea, can be caused by a lot of things. It may or may not be accompanied by the following symptoms:

  1. Watery consistency of stools
  2. More than 4 episodes of bowel movement per day
  3. Vomiting
  4. Fever
  5. Drowsiness
  6. Sunken eyeballs and fontanels
  7. Dry eyes (no tears when crying) and dry mouth
  8. Abdominal distention
  9. Failure to gain weight
  10. Loss of appetite

Your baby can, of course, be ill, like with a mild form of stomach bug, or if your baby was ill recently, his stomach can be a bit out of order. Baby probiotics can then be of great help. (Link to Amazon)

Sometimes, babies can also get diarrhea from a cold. You don’t say specifically that your baby has diarrhea, but I thought this was still worth mentioning.

If your baby is not gaining weight properly, often has respiratory infections and his stools are foul-smelling, checking him for cystic fibrosis may be a good idea. You can read more about cystic fibrosis in babies at Stanford Children’s Hospital here.

In addition to cystic fibrosis; Intussusception, Giardiasis, and toxic megacolon, are just some of the examples that may cause diarrhea in babies. You can read more about these diseases here. When symptoms relating to these diseases are exhibited by your babies, call your doctors right away.

Dehydration and Weight Gain When a Baby Poops A lot

Regarding the risk of dehydration and not gaining weight; keep a track of his wet diapers.

Frequent bowel movements in babies can, of course, lead to dehydration, but this is much likely if the baby really has diarrhea.

If he is peeing frequently, he is not likely to be dehydrated. Offer him some breastmilk, formula, or water often.

You find signs of dehydration here.

And if he is happy and full of energy, he is probably getting the nutrition he needs too; any person becomes quite cranky from getting too little food.

I hope this helps!

Good luck,
Paula

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