What if a baby cries when pooping – really screams with every bowel movement?
Here are possible reasons to consider and many parents’ testimonies of their baby’s situation.
My 9-month-old baby screams with every bowel movement. He has been doing this for months, and Dr. doesn’t seem to know what is wrong.
He screams in pain with every bowel movement, soft or hard. Every time, sometimes twice a day. I need help finding out what is wrong.
Baby Cries When Pooping: 5 Possible Reasons
Poor boy, this must be so hard for both him and you. When a baby cries when pooping, it is likely due to either discomfort, fear, or pain.
Since your baby is literally screaming, pain is the most likely reason. Let’s take a look at a few different possible reasons.
1. Painful Constipation
Ongoing constipation can cause discomfort and pain. If he is currently constipated, there are several ways to mitigate that. You’ll find appropriate foods to soften his stools here.
Constipation may develop for various reasons, but the most common reason in infants is due to changes in their diet. Transitioning from breastmilk or formula to complementary feeding (usually with puréed foods and cereals) is often the culprit. There are also medical reasons for constipation, such as Hirschsprung disease and hypothyroidism.
2. Fear of Pooping
Has he ever been constipated before? Babies can sometimes develop a fear of having bowel movements due to previous experiences of constipation.
If that could be the case, and if you have started with complementary feeding, then maybe giving him only foods that are unlikely to cause hard stools for a while could help him learn that passing stools is not painful.
For a 9-month-old, make sure to give finely chopped “finger foods” or mashed foods – save bigger bites of solid foods for when they turn one. High-fiber foods will also move his bowels faster and help prevent constipation – try cereals, spinach, apricots, or diluted fruit juices. Double-check with your doctor on which foods he can take for his age.
You might even want to occasionally give him infant glycerin suppositories to see if passing stools does not hurt. However, do not use the suppositories too frequently or for prolonged periods of time so your baby does not learn to depend on suppositories to poop regularly. Using suppositories very often might irritate their bum or even lead to chronic symptoms.
3. Anal Fissure
Babies who previously had problems with constipation or diarrhea might have developed an anal fissure. This is a tear in the tissue lining the anal sphincter, a ring of muscular tissue that relaxes when we pass stools and contracts when we need to hold it in.
Babies who have anal fissures will feel pain with every bowel movement. Does your baby have any blood in his stool? In some infants, small amounts of fresh blood in the stool are common for this condition. However, blood may also appear in the stool due to other intestinal pathologies, such as diverticulosis or allergic reaction. Make sure to inform your doctor about any bleeding you see.
4. Infant Dyschezia
If your baby has soft stools yet cries every time they poop, infant dyschezia is an important condition to consider. Some babies take a little extra time to learn how to poop properly – they can still have difficulty coordinating some body movements in response to the urge to poop. This tightens the pelvic floor, which should be relaxed instead when passing stools.
5. Irritable Bowel Syndrome
The screaming might indicate the beginning of irritable bowel syndrome.
In irritable bowel syndrome, the nerves attached to the gastrointestinal tract are extra sensitive. Normal movements along the intestinal walls caused by benign substances like milk gets translated to the brain as pain. Kids with IBS may have diarrhea or constipation and usually feel pain during bowel movements.
However, it’s quite difficult to diagnose IBS in infants. It’s best to have your child evaluated by a specialist if IBS is possible.
Get Your Child Re-evaluated
It is really hard to know what is causing his discomfort, and my top advice to you is to get a second opinion from another doctor, preferably a pediatrician. It might also be a good idea to ask your doctor to refer your baby to a pediatric gastroenterologist.
Does your baby show any signs of illness, such as poor appetite and weight gain? Does he have any diaper rash that could cause him pain?
Try gathering as much information as possible about your son’s situation and take him to a pediatrician. I would also advise you to take a video or record your son while pooping. Many babies cry a bit when pooping, so it could be that a doctor really needs to see what is going on to evaluate how severe your baby’s distress is.
I really wish you good luck! And please let me know how things work out for you.
More Babies In Pain When Pooping
- Baby In Pain Even With Loose Stools
- 1 Year Old Cries In Pain When Pooping
- Read about the signs of lactose intolerance and milk allergy here.
Research References (Baby Screams with Every Bowel Movement)
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
- Chronic functional constipation and fecal incontinence in infants, children, and adolescents: Treatment
- Anal Fissures in children
- Symptoms & Causes of Hirschsprung Disease
Find comments to this question below. A lot of parents have shared their situation and the progress in finding the reasons for their babies’ painful bowel movements. Make sure to browse all these contributions!
Paula Dennholt founded Easy Baby Life in 2006 and has been a passionate parenting and pregnancy writer since then. Her parenting approach and writing are based on studies in cognitive-behavioral models and therapy for children and her experience as a mother and stepmother. Life as a parent has convinced her of how crucial it is to put relationships before rules. She strongly believes in positive parenting and a science-based approach.
Paula cooperates with a team of pediatricians who assist in reviewing and writing articles.