“Why is my baby pooping a lot? How many poops a day are really normal for a baby?”
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.
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?
In this article:
Normal Bowel Movements in Babies by Age and Types of Food
What causes a baby to poop a lot..? Disregarding illness, the 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, 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. Breast-fed babies
During the first few days of life, newborn poop will be the tar-like substance called meconium. During this time, the baby doesn’t eat very much and also doe not poop very often. But as the breastfeeding starts to increase, so does the pooping frequency. A newborn baby who is purely breastfed will poop right after every feeding. This is because the breastmilk makes the poop soft or runny. This is completely normal, expected, and a good sign that the baby is eating enough. During this period, they will also start wetting 6-8 diapers per day. Later, fully breastfed babies 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.
2. Formula-fed babies
After the first days of meconium, a new baby who is formula-fed is not likely to be pooping after every feeding but still goes regularly. Sometimes, the baby may not poop for 1 or 2 days. This is because formula milk is harder to digest.
In addition, the risk of constipation and hard poop is higher than with breast milk.
3. Normal Pooping After Solid Foods Have been Introduced
A baby who has started on solids but is 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. The poop can still be soft but may poop less frequently since he has started on solids but still breastfeeding.
If solids are combined with formula feeding, the stools are likely to be more formed and less frequent.
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 affect their pooping. So a baby of this age who suddenly starts pooping a lot does not sound completely normal, and the cause should be identified.
By the time the baby is one year old, his/her bowel movement often decreases to one time per day.
4. The Type of Solid Foods Will Affect a Baby’s Bowel Movement
Babies eating more fruits and foods that tend to soften stools (e.g., sweet potatoes, prunes, pears, or quinoa) 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 consistency of your baby’s stools.
While in the process of introducing new foods to a baby, it is not uncommon to see changes in stool frequency. Diet changes can suddenly result in slight constipation or more runny, frequent stools.
It is, for example, very easy to give babies too much fiber-rich food because we all know these are generally healthy. But a baby’s digestive system can’t handle too much fiber, and the child may get diarrhea or at least very loose stools 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, this is a sign of constipation, 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 more often
Since you are writing here to ask about it, I assume your baby’s stools have suddenly changed. In such a case, it is 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?
- Stool color – Even if most colors except for black (may indicate internal bleeding) or white poop (may indicate liver disease), and red (indicated bleeding) are considered normal, sudden changes in the poop color can still add valuable information to identify the cause of the baby’s pooping frequency. For example, iron supplements can result in green poop.
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 baby’s health care provider. This may indicate infection.
Here are some other possible reasons for frequent bowel movements in babies and what to do about it.
Reasons Not Related to Age and Feeding
5. Food Intolerance or Allergy
Babies who have lactose intolerance may poop more than usual. Mostly, these babies have soft to watery 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 gluten 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.
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.
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.
7. 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.
8. 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 four episodes of bowel movement per day
- Sunken eyeballs and fontanels
- Dry eyes (no tears when crying) and dry mouth
- Abdominal distension
- Failure to gain weight
- Loss of appetite
Your baby can, of course, be ill, like with a mild form of stomach bug (e.g., a bacterial infection), 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.
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 your baby exhibits symptoms relating to these diseases, call your doctors right away.
9. Cystic Fibrosis
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.
Dehydration and Weight Gain
Regarding the risk of dehydration and not gaining weight, the best you can do is to keep track of your baby’s wet diapers since these are a more important indication of dehydration than the number of dirty 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 enough fluids through breast milk, formula, or water.
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
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.
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.