How often should my child have a bowel movement?
It depends on how old he or she is:
- In the first week of life, most babies have 4 or more bowel movements each day. They are soft or liquid.
- In the first 3 months, breastfed infants have about 3 soft bowel movements per day. Some breastfed infants have a bowel movement after each feeding, whereas others have only one bowel movement per week. Infants who breastfeed are rarely constipated.
- Most formula-fed infants have two to three bowel movements per day, although this depends on which formula is given. Some soy and cow’s milk-based formulas cause harder bowel movements
- By age 2, most kids have at least 1 bowel movement each day. They are soft but solid.
- Every child is different. Some have bowel movements after each meal. Others have bowel movements every other day.
How will I know if my child is constipated?
Your child might:
- Have fewer bowel movements than normal
- Have bowel movements that are hard or bigger than normal
- Feel pain when having a bowel movement
- Arch his or her back and cry (if still a baby)
- Avoid going to the bathroom, do a “dance,” or hide when he or she feels a bowel movement coming. This often happens when potty training and when starting school.
- Leak small amounts of bowel movement into the underwear (if he or she is toilet trained)