How Often Should a Breastfed Baby Poop? - Modern Alternative Mama
AD

How Often Should a Breastfed Baby Poop?

admin December 3, 2017

Breastfed babies and their pooping habits has been a subject of much debate.

New moms often worry that their breastfed babies aren’t pooping enough…or that their poop looks weird…or that there’s something else wrong.  Typically, these mothers are assured — “If baby is not uncomfortable, it’s fine to go up to two weeks without pooping!  Breastmilk is the perfect food so it’s all used up and there’s just no waste left!”

Unfortunately, although this bit of advice has been passed around for years, there is not one shred of evidence to back it up.

Since how often a breastfed baby poops — and how often s/he should poop — actually affects long-term gut development (and therefore, long-term health), it actually matters a lot if this is true or not.

How often should a breastfed baby poop, really?

What is Poop Made Of?

First, we need understand what poop is, and what it means for gut health.

Most of us know that poop is “waste” from our food.  That’s likely where the idea that breastfed babies don’t need to poop came from — it’s literally designed for each individual baby, so it seems to make sense that it would all just be absorbed.  (Except, no.)

But, that’s actually not really what poop is — exactly.

Poop is about 75% water, on average, and 25% solids.  Of those solids, a good portion of it is live bacteria from the gut — bacteria that helps to digest, extract, and synthesize important nutrients (among other things).  There’s also fiber, possibly undigested food, some fat, and various other things. (source)

So, a breastfed baby’s poop is mostly water and bacteria.  That’s important to recognize, because it’s not entirely the “waste” products from breastmilk; it’s actually a sign that the gut is moving along the way it should.  We all know that this is true in adults, and we look for “regularity” as an important sign of health.  The only reason we think that breastfed babies are different is because of that pervasive myth that mixed foods have a lot of waste, and breastmilk doesn’t.  Only this isn’t true, either.

But…poop is all about gut health!  And this is especially important in a breastfed baby whose gut is still immature.

What Does Breast Milk Do in the Gut?

This is a really important question, too.  Does breast milk actually have anything to do with the gut?  Or is it “all used up” in digestion, as many claim?

Actually, breast milk contains a substance called oligosaccharides, which are a special kind of milk sugar that a baby can’t digest (yes, really!).  This milk sugar is there to feed the bifidobacteria in the gut, to promote normal flora development.  In fact, although it’s by far the only factor, it’s considered the most important factor in infant gut development (source).

Bifidobacteria makes up about 75% of the gut flora in a healthy breastfed infant, specifically the strains B. longumB. infantisB. breve, and B. bifidum (source).

Of course, this is not all that breast milk does in the gut.  Several other factors, including immunological factors, growth hormones, etc. help to protect a baby, form baby’s immune system (while their own ‘actual’ immune system is still immature), promote normal growth and development, and more.

Breast milk is not just food.  So, even if the ‘food’ parts of it were “all used up,” the other parts are not — on purpose.  Because they’re present to specifically nourish budding bacteria and develop the gut.

This is why it doesn’t make sense that breastfed babies pooping infrequently is “normal!”

How Often Should a Breastfed Baby Poop

How Often Should a Breastfed Baby Poop?

Regularly.

Breastfed babies can vary from “every feeding” (8+ times per day) to 1 – 2 times per day and both ends can be normal.  There is not a universal answer to this. (source)

But, breastfed babies should not be going several days in between poops.  If that’s happening, then bifidobacteria isn’t as prevalent as it should be.  Something’s missing.  The factors in breastmilk that promote normal gut function and development aren’t working right.

Basically, regular poop is a sign that things are working as they should in the gut…and a lack of it means something’s not right.

Many parents can tell you that their babies get kind of uncomfortable or fussy on “poop day” when it has been awhile since they went.  Usually, the poop comes in massive quantities, too.  This means it was all sitting in the gut, backed up…it’s not that there “wasn’t any poop,” it just wasn’t moving through as it should have!

The bottom line here is that going several days in between poops is not normal, and is a sign that gut health isn’t the way it should be.  Remember, if you, as a breastfeeding mother, do not have healthy gut flora, you are passing this on to your baby.  This means that your own health needs to be addressed!

Other Abnormal Variations in Breastfed Babies’ Poop

Besides infrequent pooping, babies may have an issue if you see any of these:

  • Very watery poop
  • Thick, pasty poop
  • Green poop
  • Brown poop
  • Frothy, foamy poop
  • Very stinky poop
  • Poop that causes diaper rashes easily

A normal breastfed baby should be pooping 2 – 6 times per day (and while they may poop less frequently after the first 6 weeks or so, should still be going 1 – 2x per day).  The poop should be soft but not runny, a yellow-orange color, may contain ‘seeds’ (milk curds) and should have a mild, sour-milk kind of smell.

If there’s a variation in this, it can mean all kinds of things!

Disturbed Maternal Gut Flora

This is probably the most overlooked reason for issues.

There are so many things that can impact our gut flora, as mothers.  These can include:

  • Past/current use of hormonal birth control
  • Antibiotics
  • Overconsumption of sugar
  • Overconsumption of refined vegetable oils
  • GMOs
  • Other prescription drugs

If you have taken medication (or currently do), if you struggle with hormone imbalances, if you have trouble controlling your weight, you can assume that your gut flora is not optimal.

This does not mean that all is lost, or that you should not breastfeed.  It does mean that if you can reduce or eliminate some of these factors and slowly work to improve your gut health while breastfeeding (there are safe ways to do this), then you should.

This is not blaming mothers, by the way.  Many of us were never told how important gut flora is to our health, nor how to protect it.  It’s just not a topic that’s been commonly discussed until more recently, and even now is still very confusing to most.  I have personally breastfed all my babies, even when I knew that my gut health was not optimal.  I have always just tried to do the best I could, which is all we can do.

Allergen in Maternal Diet

If we have less-than-optimal gut flora (most of us), then undigested proteins can bother us…and slip through into our milk, upsetting baby’s gut.

The best thing to do in this case is to eliminate the offending food(s).  If they are bothering baby…then they are bothering you!  Even if you don’t realize it because you have ‘adjusted’ to it.  (Several mothers who eliminate foods for baby, and later reintroduce, suddenly find that they do react to them.)

Look at wheat/gluten, dairy, soy, corn, nuts, and other top allergens as potential issues, especially if baby is fussy during/right after feeding in addition to abnormal poop.  Frequent spitting up — even ‘happy’ spitting — is usually a sign of a maternal gut issue/allergen too.  Some moms have trouble digesting ‘gassy’ foods like onions, garlic, beans, etc. and these may also bother their babies.  Caffeine can be an issue for some, too.

Foremilk Imbalance

Sometimes, mothers have too much of the watery ‘foremilk,’ which leaves baby without some of the fat in the ‘hindmilk’ that is necessary for balance nutrition.  This can happen with oversupply or forceful letdown.  Usually, babies will be fussy, gassy, and have green poop if this is the case.

It can often be corrected by popping baby off the breast when letdown occurs to ‘catch’ a little bit of the milk at first, as well as feeding baby on only one side per feeding (so they get the hindmilk in the first breast instead of foremilk from both).  Waiting too long in between feedings can also cause more foremilk, so try to feed baby more frequently.

Tongue/Lip Tie

Some babies are unable to latch properly due to a tongue/lip tie, which can lead to inefficient milk transfer.  A qualified lactation consultant or dentist can properly diagnose this, as can some midwives.  A dentist can correct it.

But, be aware, many in the mainstream do not believe this is a ‘thing’ and may tell you that it doesn’t exist or doesn’t matter.  If you hear that, go find someone who at least understands ties!

By the way, ties are a midline deficiency, which can be a sign of an MTHFR gene mutation, which can have a far-reaching impact on health.  Other signs include a “sugar bug,” (blue vein across the bridge of the nose), sacral dimple (lower part of the spine), spina bifida, and more.  If this is the case, then it’s really important for mom to eliminate any synthetic vitamins from her diet, especially folic acid.

Minor Illness

Of course, there’s the possibility of a run-of-the-mill minor illness, too.  If baby’s poop is usually normal, but is ‘off’ for a couple days, it’s probably some little bug.  No need to worry, just keep nursing and it will pass.

Early Mixed Feedings

Any kind of food besides breastmilk will change the gut flora.  This includes using formula, as well as introducing solid food.

While the gut flora naturally will shift in an older baby/toddler, once food is introduced, this isn’t something that we should do prior to 6 months of age.  The gut needs to mature properly before introducing anything else!

If you need to supplement, look into donor milk or homemade formulas instead of store-bought formula, especially if you have MTHFR (store-bought formula may harm babies with this mutation).

If you’re interested in learning more about this issue, check out 5 Ways to Help Your Infant Develop Optimal Gut Flora.

So, this may be different than what you’ve heard!  But hopefully, it puts to bed the old myth that “it’s normal for breastfed babies to poop rarely.”  Allowing this to keep floating around is harming babies’ immature and rapidly developing guts!

How often did your breastfed baby poop?

Confused about vaccines?

Get our FREE no-nonsense vaccine guide. Answer your questions with rational, fact-based information instead of fear.

This is the writings of:

admin
AD

17 Comments

  1. My baby poops 2x every other day right now at 2 1/2 months old.

    Reply

  2. My baby was pooping at least twice a day, but just recently at 3 months she has gone 3-4 days without. This was a timely article. I had more sugar and fast food lately. I will be making some diet changes and working on my self control again!

    Reply

  3. Thank you for sharing this! I’ve known gut health was important but the probiotic I am taking isn’t cutting it and I am on meds that are considered safe while nursing but unknown if they effect the gut. My 8 month old has struggled with pooping since 1 month. He’s exclusively breastfed and poops on average every 3-4 days. We have been to several Drs, been evaluated for ties, seen a LC and even demanded an ultrasound because I felt this wasn’t right. He’s vaccine free. He has moderate eczema. He’s went up to 8 days without pooping but because he gained well I was told not to worry or just to change to formula. Working on my gut health since I read this last week but I’m guessing it will take a while. I wish I had known sooner. Any suggestions for probiotics for me and baby?

    Reply

  4. Thank you so very much for this article! I will share it widely with our community members!

    Reply

  5. I really appreciate this article. I love all of the possibilities of infrequent pooping in breastfed infants. One factor I found missing: decreased milk supply and/or baby not getting enough milk. While both milk supply issues and hungry babies might be caused by lip/tongue ties, there are many other possibilities. I encourage the mothers I see for feeding and elimination concerns to seek counsel from a IBCLC. Lactation consultants can assess breastfed babies for breast milk intake and more.

    Reply

  6. Thankfully, all my babies used to poop 2-3 times a day. There were other moms whose babies used to not poop at all for days but thankfully it wasn’t the case with me. I have often noticed a mom’s diet also plays a great role in breast milk and digestion in a baby. If i ever had some food which was flatulent or too spicy, my babies also used to be distressed.

    Reply

  7. […] Some believe that late introduction to solids is better to protect against allergies — and to promote gut health.  (And there’s no denying that breastfeeding promotes optimal gut health.  Learn more here.) […]

    Reply

  8. My baby will poop right after breasfeed. I am taking medicine for my toothache and my baby also is taking medicines for pneumonia and rhinitis.

    Reply

  9. I’m a fairly healthy eater, but my 3-month-old poops about once a week—and spits up a LOT. What would you suggest I try?

    Reply

    • Do you eat fermented foods? Working on a healthy gut flora is an important step. Another common problem is that there may be food sensitivities. Common allergens are dairy, wheat, soy, and sugar and they could be bothering baby.
      ~ Editor

      Reply

  10. My baby is 4 month old, but she only poop once every 7 day. Is it normal? The poop normally is green solid. Main diet of baby is breast milk and occasionally formula.

    Reply

  11. It is normal in some breastfed babies to only poop once a week. To say otherwise is just making pathology of the normal as main stream medicine does. Some babies have a more elastic gut, which allows for longer storage.

    Reply

  12. My exclusively breastfed baby poops every 7-10 days. He has since about 2 weeks old. He was 8lbs 8ozs at birth and at 4 mos old is 19 lbs. He’s perfectly healthy. Not every baby is the same. He’s never pooped every day in a row and there’s not necessarily something wrong if they don’t. If you have concerns always speak to your pediatrician or lactation consultant.

    Reply

  13. Hello,
    Thanks for the article! Lots of great information. My 5 month old poops about 8 times a day. I feel that this is excessive. I’m a little worried because the most of the moms in the comment section say their baby poop’s only about 2-3 times a day. Perhaps I am in the small majority. His poops are usually yellowish with the curdles and not smelly.

    Reply

  14. Hi! So i have two questions:

    1. Is it safe to say that if I consume probiotics suplements (pills) with bifidobacteria in it, I’ll be helping my baby’s gut? I’m vegan and I’m probably not getting enough from what I usually eat.

    2. What is the issue with frothy, foamy poop? Besides from pooping once a week, my baby’s poop comes out looking like this.

    Thanks for helping this worried mama!

    Love

    Reply

  15. Hi,

    This article is share under a question of a mama whos baby of 3,5 months, exclusivel y breastfed holds it poop for 10 days.

    So I read your article and I must say: WOW.

    I read in your profile that you are a DIY mother. Thats great. Yes I do feel selfstudy is good and I do not agree on the nowadays medical standards. And fir your own kids, please do go on your gutfeeling. But if you think advising other mothers, especially new mothers who look for this topic: please state first that you are not a proffessional. You are not a trained doula or baby care person.
    Second, back it up with some sort of evidense, study or just say: I exeprienced this with my 5 kids.

    But gor this piece you decided not to do any of this.

    So you state: “there is not one shred of evidence to back it up.” (That babies can hold uup 10- 14 days)

    And then you say your evidence is: “it doesn’t make sense that breastfed babies pooping infrequently is “normal!”

    You mention no study, no expert in a field of whatsoever and then you claim all babies need to poop 2-6 times a day?
    Wow. Thats a lot. But in what age? Newborn yes they can do that. But after 3 months the gutflora changes. And they collect the poop. My two kids held it for 4-6 days. Until 6 months when more solids came to the diet. Bread apple oats etc. Now at 12 months my girl poops sometimes every day, sometimes 4 days not. And she is still breastfed. So there is a big difference in age and gut function. Tmy kids are all personal experience but the fact that it seen as normal is backed up by my midwife.

    So you need to make a distinction in how old the baby is in your piece

    You state that: “what mother eat affects the gut of a child.” On what evidence ? Whats your source? Again, make sure you have your sources there.

    Your claim on: “breastmilk is more than food” (that there is residue)…. sorry but you are so mistaken on the meaning of the sentence and you decided to claim it for your own goal.
    It means: love, connection, getting the smell of your baby so your own immunesystem can produce the right stuff for the breastmilk. Children who experience love in their first months regularly, are much better balanced
    I will not even bother to look up the source of the studies on this, because you didnt bother either. Google it I would say.

    Since you try to advise on new mothers, please back up any of this with anykind of evidence. I dont care which docter, natural health or whatever but please dont make new mothers insecure on the poop of their baby. New mothers are insecure already without your advise.

    Reply

  16. How frequently should breastfed babies poop when they start to consume solid foods?

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Hi, I’m Kate.  I love medical freedom, sharing natural remedies, developing real food recipes, and gentle parenting. My goal is to teach you how to live your life free from Big Pharma, Big Food, and Big Government by learning about herbs, cooking, and sustainable practices.

I’m the author of Natural Remedies for Kids and the owner and lead herbalist at EarthleyI hope you’ll join me on the journey to a free and healthy life!

Meet My Family
Top
Love our content? Sigh for our weekly newsletter and get our FREE Vaccine Guide!