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.
The information in this article is provided by Medical Doctor Janina Kong. The purpose is to provide examples and knowledge to help parents dig deeper into their baby’s situation, not to offer a complete picture or a possible diagnosis.
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 bowel movements. Could that be the case?
Why do Babies Poop A Lot and When is It Normal?
In this article…
The Normal Range of Bowel Movements in Babies and What Affects It
What causes a baby to poop a lot..? Pooping frequency depends on the baby’s age, diet, and metabolism. Therefore, all these aspects must be considered to assess whether your baby’s pooping frequency is likely within the normal range.
What we have to take into consideration when the baby poops are the following:
- Is he exclusively breastfed?
- Is he on formula?
- Is he on breastmilk AND formula?
- What is the ratio of formula milk to water?
- Has he started solids?
- Does he eat meat or carbohydrates?
- Does he eat fruits? If so, what fruits does he often eat?
- Does he have other signs and symptoms such as fever, vomiting, skin dryness of skin or drowsiness?
- Is his abdomen distended? Does he pass gas often?
- 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).
1. 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.
2. 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 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 ten months old, bowel movement frequency in babies is mostly regulated. Hence, 1 to 2 episodes of bowel movements are 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.
3. 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., bananas, blueberries, and 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 these are generally healthy. 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 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 your baby’s pooping has suddenly changed. 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:
- Consistency – is his poop watery? Soft? Hard? Mucoid? Bloody?
- Frequency- is it more than the normal range of 1-2 bowel movements per day?
- 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?
- Food intake history – did he eat something new today? Did he drink something he shouldn’t have?
- 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?
- 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
4. 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. Also, lactose intolerance is usually present during earlier stages in infancy, so it will be unlikely to present in 10-month-old babies.
On the other hand, shifting your baby to another formula milk 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 gradually introduce new foods to babies in small portions. 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 introducing some type of food. Then try excluding it from his diet and see if it helps.
5. 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 the inflammatory response in the baby’s body triggers a cytokine reaction. This, in turn, can affect the baby’s bowel movement, hence the occurrence of diarrhea. But this is not the case for all babies. Other babies may manifest fever, drooling, and 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.
6. Baby Pooping A Lot After Vaccination
Maybe not known 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.
7. Infections/Anatomical abnormalities/Illnesses
Acute gastroenteritis, more commonly known as diarrhea, can be caused by many things. It may or may not be accompanied by the following symptoms:
- Watery consistency of stools
- More than 4 episodes of bowel movement per day
- Sunken eyeballs and fontanels
- Dry eyes (no tears when crying) and dry mouth
- Abdominal distention
- Failure to gain weight
- 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 could be a bit out of order. Baby probiotics can then be of great help.
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 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 track of his wet diapers.
Frequent bowel movements in babies can lead to dehydration, but this is much more likely if the baby really has diarrhea.
If he is frequently peeing, 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!
- 7 Month Baby With Diarrhea Pooping 10 Times Per Day
- Symptoms Of Infant Diarrhea
- Fussy Baby With Smelly, Frequent Stools
- Cytokine levels in gingival crevicular fluid of erupting primary teeth correlated with systemic disturbances accompanying teething
- Pediatric Gastroenteritis Differential Diagnoses
- Rotavirus VIS
Paula Dennholt founded Easy Baby Life in 2006 and has been a passionate parenting and pregnancy writer since then. Her parenting approach and writing is 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 that you find here. They write or review all health-related articles.
This Post Has 22 Comments
hello my son is months and days out and he eats adult food and eats fruit when we have it (almost all the time) I cut it down to only so much fruit in a day he’s been on adult food for about 3 almost 4 months and has yet to have any solid poops constant diarrhea got a solid poop once my MIL argues with me and says he need to have a lot of fruit and vegs (don’t get much veggies bc they make him poop a lot more) and when I tell her he needs more of his main course meal before he eats his fruit bc then that’s all he will eat bc its sweet and she says that is ok fruit is good for you, I think he needs more of the actually meal before anything sweet that will make then not want to eat what they need to eat, what can I give him to give pooping so much poops like 5-6 times a day I’ve cut down the juices that have a lot of sugar, I don’t water his juice no more (doc said was fine) I haven’t done that in 2 months ( I cut the water back everyday but he pees ok I guess at night he pees a lot when he is asleep i try to get him to drink more water especially at night before he gets his bottle he’s on advance Similac formula his whole life he gets 6 ozs 2-3 times a day and then nap time or bedtime he get 8 oz so that’s 2-3 times a day plus Adult food 3-4 times a day and a little fruit cup 2-3 times a day. I am calling doctor tomorrow and talking to the nurse but I just want to see what other parents think if I’m in the right or she is right this is my first kid you wont hurt my feelings I’m just trying to think about what I think is best for my son.
My son s 11 months old and he’s doing the same. He takes in baby food due to his windpipe collapse problem. 6 jars a day and 3 bottles of Alimentrum. He’s on famotidine but I stopped it today to figure out why his poop went from hard to soft. He was constipated for a day than hard pebbles now musky.
Has your son just started taking Famotidine? I just wonder since you’ve decided to stop it – I assume due to possible side effects?
If his poop is now musky, it sounds as if things are going in the right direction. It is common for babies to become constipated temporarily, like in your son’s case. Maybe he ate something or didn’t drink enough. What problem do you suspect, if he is not constipated anymore? Does he still have very frequent bowel movements?
Let me know how things go and good luck!
My 1 year Baby boy Pooping 3 times a day also its watery ..
What should i do about it
Pooping 3 times per day doesn’t have to mean anything is wrong. It depends on if this is a big shift compared to how often your baby usually poops. Watery poop, however, does sound like something is wrong. Check out this article about diarrhea in babies. I hope it helps!
How about frequent bowel movements in 9-month-old babies..? My son is 9 months and we have started to notice that he is pooping A LOT. I feel like I’m always changing his diaper. Worse, he has now developed a terrible diaper rash. I’m not sure if its because of teething or just the fact that he’s constantly pooping.
The consistency of the poop varies. Sometimes relatively hard, like a “normal” poop. Other times, it seems very soft and mushy, but not quite diarrhea.
I was thinking maybe it was because we were giving him too much cereal. Is there anything I should do? Should I be worried?
One of the most common reasons that a baby’s bowel movements are changes is a change of diet – unless he is ill. The introduction of formula or new solid foods may drastically change your baby’s pooping habits overnight.
You don’t say anything about what you are feeding your baby. If you write back with what he eats, I can guide you some more.
Also, has he been pooping this often for a long time or did his pooping habits change recently? Pooping often is not a problem in itself, but being 9-month-old and pooping “all the time” seems off.
The diaper rash is, of course, a problem. Poor boy! You’ll find effective ways to treat his diaper rash here.
My 7-month-old baby has had “normal” bowel movements since birth and recently has stopped having loose bowel movements. He strains to push out the poo, and he poops a lot each day, I mean he poops many times per day. The size ranges from walnut size up to a full diaper. The poo is a little mushy, but not rock hard. Is this normal or should I call my doctor?
I was told that he should still have liquid stool not mushy or hard. His mushy consistency is like playdoh. Also, is it normal for a 7-month-old to poop many times per day?
Have you changed your son’s diet lately? Being 7 months old, he is at the age when we usually introduce new foods to our babies. If your baby is eating any amounts of solid foods, the poop usually goes from liquid to mushy or even harder, depending on what we introduce and how well they can digest the new foods.
The fact that he goes several times per day is completely normal. Also straining and pushing is quite normal, especially if you have introduced solid foods.
Signs that your son is constipated would be that the poop is very hard and dry or pebble-like, that the stools have streaks of blood on the outside, and that the pooping is painful. (You can learn more about the signs of constipation here.)
So unless your son is showing clear signs of constipation, food intolerance, or other signs of illness as described in this post, I don’t think you have to worry much about his bowel movements.
Hope this helps,
Hello, I seem to experience a similar issue as the other moms here. My 15 months old son has frequent bowel moments – from 4 to 7 a day. They are never watery.
There is quite a bit of not digested food in his bowels, like green peas, corn, pieces of carrot, grapes, etc. Is that normal?
Also, the frequency of his bowels worries me: is this normal? Is he getting all the nutrients he needs from his food, if it goes through his system that fast?
His diet is quite varied and everything is home-made. I give him 5 spoons of baby-cereal in the morning with some banana, then at lunch rice with vegetables and a bit of chicken or some other meat, fruits and some cottage cheese and at dinner similar to lunch but different veggies and different meat and some cheddar or yogurt and fruits. He drinks about 4 bottles of 5 ounces of milk a day and some water. (I don’t offer him any juices at all) He has a healthy appetite and I wonder if his bowels are not simply due to his food intake… but it seems odd that they are so frequent. I have to constantly run after him to change him, as he gets diaper-rash easily too. Should I be worried?
What can I change in his diet? Remove the milk – to test if he’s not lactose intolerant? But replace it with WHAT? He loves milk and all milk products (cheese, yogurt, etc).
Remove rice/pasta to test if he’s gluten intolerant? But replace it with what that can be a good filler?
Any pointer would be GREATLY welcome!!!
Thank you so much for your help!
So your son loves your homemade foods and eats a lot of it. That’s great! Being a toddler he clearly needs lots of healthy foods. I don’t think the fact that he poops a lot needs to be a problem unless you notice other signs of problems – belly pain, diarrhea, constipation, or that he wouldn’t continue to grow and develop according to his curve.
However, I would like to raise attention to the amount of cow’s milk that he drinks. The general recommendation is that a toddler should consume no more than 24 ounces of cow’s milk per day. 4-5 bottles of milk plus yogurt, cheese, etc, could be at the higher end. The reason for this recommendation is that cow’s milk is low in iron, and it can also prevent the absorption of iron in other foods.
Iron deficiency is a bit tricky to catch because there are no real early warnings. You can read more about why iron is important for children and how to make sure they get enough of it here.
Another thing – you can definitely check if your son is lactose intolerant without quitting cow’s milk completely. Simply switch to lactose-free dairy products and see if it helps his pooping frequency. You can read about the symptoms of lactose intolerance here.
I hope this helps,
Ahhhh! I’ve been having this same problem w/my still breastfed (3X per day) 12-month-old. He is pooping 4 times per day.
Gluten/milk allergies run in my family so that struck a chord with me and I may need to cut back on them.
Here’s the thing…I’m an inexperienced mom/cook and I tend to fall back on easy foods. Since he eats A TON (seriously, it’s unreal!), mainly fruits and veggies aren’t cutting it. I need some filler foods. So I added organic whole grain brown rice. (Gluten-free, right?) It has 2g fiber per 1/4 cup which is about what he will eat in a serving. Is that a lot?
My son’s main diet consists of fruit (His favorites are mango cantaloupe, bananas & grapes), veggies (peas, carrots, green beans, corn), scrambled eggs, brown rice, cheerios (possible culprit?), and Gerber or other snacks.
So my question is if I take brown rice and cheerios out, what can I add in as healthy fillers? It’s hard to think of anything if I’m not going to be adding any other whole grains or cheeses (dairy)… He loves potatoes but aren’t those high in fiber also?
If your 12-month-old poops 4 times per day, the poop is normal (not too hard, not too soft), he is happy and thriving and eats brown rice, I actually think he is completely fine! As you say, brown rice is in high in fiber, so that is likely to make him poop more often. But as long as he is fine, that doesn’t really matter!
And since he is still breastfeeding (well done), this is likely a reason for his frequent pooping.
If anything, cut down on snacks that contain added sugar – for example, check those Cheerios!
Potato is also great foods to add to his diet, as well as sweet potatoes.
Since you have milk protein allergy and celiac disease in your family, I would urge you to discuss foods containing these with your child’s doctor.
It sounds like your son is doing great!
You can find more ideas on finger foods here and a feeding schedule here.
I’m a nanny for an 18-month boy. He poops 4 to 6 times a day and they are never hard…always soft. Not to mention the smell and the amount is huge. I was wondering if this is normal. I’m worried about him.
Hi Nanny, I think the same goes for an 18 months old baby as the 10 months old baby above. Such frequent bowel movements may be due to too much fiber or some food intolerance; for example, lactose.
Have you discussed this with the baby’s parents? Maybe it would be wise to try to change the diet slightly and see if you get any positive effects.
If the baby’s weight gain is poor, then it might be wise to discuss the situation with a pediatrician to see if any testing is needed to rule out for example hypersensitivity to gluten.
Good luck, Paula
Hi, I have a ten month old baby and she poops 3-4 times, sometimes 2 and once a while 5 times a day, but she has always been like this. She is growing well (tall) but she is not putting so much weight.. She is 98% for her growth and 25% for her weight. She is very active, crawling since she was 7 month. But still i worry , so could you tell me what to look for
My 21 mos old baby has an irregular bowel movement; sometimes 3 to 4 days after. Is this normal? He is ok to still active playing around. Plz advice what to do. Thank you!
Pooping every 3-4 days as a toddler is not that common unless the child is constipated. It doesn’t have to be a problem if your toddler is thriving, growing, and peeing, though.
If the pooping is painful or the stools are very hard or difficult to push out, your baby is likely to be constipated and it would be good to take a look at his diet to see if anything should be adjusted to soften the stools.
In general, white bread, cow’s milk, white rice, and rice cereal, unripe banana, carrots, and apple sauce are some common causes of constipation in toddlers. Try introducing some whole-grain alternatives, oatmeal porridge, lots of water, and prune or apricot puree if his stools are hard and see if it helps. Some toddlers are severely constipated due to milk protein allergy. That should be discussed with a doctor if you suspect it.
Hope this helps,
My little girl has had soft bowel movements every 5-6 times a day, she has had her immune shots just last month and she has also been sick within last month and finally getting over it now, is it still normal or do I need to change her diet or do I need to talk to her doctor?
Since your daughter has been ill, she might very well benefit from you taking away all dairy products (except full-fat, plain yogurt) for a while.
It is quite common that children become temporarily lactose intolerant after an illness. It will pass but might pass faster if you take away dairy for a couple of weeks.
Hope this helps, Paula
Hi all, I have a 5.5 months old baby girl. She is having 40 to 50ml of breast milk every day. Her mum only produces that amount of breast milk daily. So my baby is supplement with formula milk.
Earlier, she passed motion once or twice a day. However, after a few days ago, she passes motion each formula feed. She still drinks 50ml Breast milk per day. She got no fever, no sign of dehydration and happy.
My baby poop is usually a mustardy yellow color, grainy in texture and quite runny and it still remains the same.
Is this normal for my baby to pass motion 6 to 8 times per day after each feed?
Since your baby’s bowel movements changed so drastically on a specific date, there might be something not completely right here. Have you changed her diet at all? Or could she be ill; a cold or a stomach bug?
If you have changed her diet, try changing it back, and see if her bowel movements go back to normal again. If you haven’t changed anything or if she continues to poop after every feeding, I suggest you bring it up with her doctor or health nurse.