Infant Stooling and Constipation
Constipation is a concern that many parents want to discuss at either well child or ill visits.
Stooling pattern in infants varies greatly, as does consistency and color. For newborns and young infants, the normal interval between stools can range from multiple stools in one day to the other extreme of one stool per week. Often times breast fed infants will go more frequently and the stool can be of a looser consistency than formula fed infants. This leads into the next component, consistency. The consistency of an infant's stool can be quite seedy and almost liquid to more formed and pasty.
Most infants will grunt and turn red in the face when stooling! This is not necessarily a symptom of constipation.
As long as the stool is relatively soft when it comes out, the infant is otherwise feeding and acting normally, and the abdomen is soft, there is little else to do. If the stool is hard like marbles, it may be time to soften it up. There are many strategies for doing this and it should be discussed with the doctor.
Color is the other variable. The first stool is black and tarry (meconium). After that, it can be yellow, brown, or green.
Created: December 24, 2000; Revised: December 7, 2008