What if a baby refuses to poop?! The 8-month-old baby in this Q&A is not pooping and the mom needs some help. 

We look at reasons and remedies and several parents have shared similar situations by leaving a comment. 

8-month-old baby not poopingPin

Mom’s Question:

My 8-month-old baby is breastfed but has been receiving solids as well for the past 2 months. He has never had any issues with constipation, but his stool has become firmer over the last 3 weeks (it’s not the liquid yellow stool of a strictly breastfed baby anymore).

About 8 days ago, he stopped pooping entirely. After 3 days of no pooping, we introduced prune juice and started giving warm baths – no luck. However, we could see him physically tighten as to not let the poop out (he flexes his legs and tightens his buttocks and strains NOT to let it out). We tried a suppository on day 4 (no luck). Upon the doctor’s recommendation, we started a laxative 2 times a day on day 6. He has had some productive bowel movements starting on day 7, but he physically fights during them.

He strains NOT to let the poop out even though it wants to come out, and he cries and shrieks. It’s not constipation – the feces is very soft when it does slip out. He now is strictly receiving only breast milk, prune juice, and water.

How do we get him to let go of the poop and NOT have this as a recurring problem? It’s heartbreaking to see and hear him, and he’s waking up throughout the night to stop the poop from escaping.

Baby Help Line:

Breastfed Baby Refuses To Poop

Babies at this age are just starting to learn to control various body parts, although being able to control a bowel motion is unusual this young. It sounds like you are doing all the things the doctor has recommended, so I think the next step is to back off with it all!

It is quite common for breastfed babies to run into trouble when starting with solid foods. My youngest was similar to your son; when starting with solids, he would find it extremely uncomfortable to poop, even though he wasn’t exactly constipated. (But of course, compared to liquid breast milk poop I can imagine that the feeling when pooping somewhat harder poop can be strange or even frightening for a baby.)

There is a huge amount of drama and anxiety centered around his pooping, and he will be picking up on it all. I’m not saying he is with-holding to get attention, but there is a risk that you are reinforcing his new learning. Since you have ruled out any medical reasons, just relax about it all and let his body do its thing without paying lots of attention to it.

In addition, what you are doing now, pausing with the solids for a while, is also a good thing, I think. Start slowly when you begin with solids again.

Breastfed babies can go long periods of time without pooping, though as you say, he is also eating solids so you would expect him to be pooping more often. Given that he is not constipated, I would just focus on warm baths and massages as relaxing fun things, without the pressure of trying to get him to poop.

Unless there is medically something preventing him (and you have checked that out), all the things you are doing with his diet, etc will help his body to do what is normal, and if there is no pressure or attention, he will start to relax and let it all happen. Of course, if he is crying, then just cuddling or carrying him, but try not to focus on the pooping bit.

More On Pooping And Solid Food Introduction

Find comments to this question below.

Comments for “My 8-Month-Old Baby REFUSES To Poop”

Apr 22, 2011 My son too

by: MommySage

My son is 7 months old, only breastfeed, started on solids last month but now for the last month he won’t poop on his own. The doctor acts like I’m lying when I say he holds it in. Is your son still dealing with this? Any tips? my son is on the same diet of prunes, breast milk, and juice.

Apr 23, 2011 Update
by: Anonymous

I ended up bringing my son to the doctor after 7 days of no significant progress. They prescribed him a laxative (Miralax), which we put in his bottle for about 4-5 days. My poor husband also would “help” him go whenever we would see him holding it back. Within a few days things resolved and we haven’t had any issues since. I’m still not sure what triggered this episode – I just hope it doesn’t happen again.

May 02, 2011 mine too

by: san

My 7-month-old is going through the same thing. Its been a week and he just keeps fighting it. He is formula fed and eating solids for about 6 weeks now. The doctor says he’s fine.
We’re doing the same with food and drink as the others. I’m so helpless right now. What should I do??

May 10, 2011 Not alone!
by: Anonymous

My son is almost 9 months old and has the same problem. He has been on solids for about 4 months, is formula fed now, but had issues pooping even when he was a strictly breastfed baby. I have to ‘help’ him go and he will sometimes have bigger stools than mine! He cries when he goes and sometimes will work all day to get one out. He is not overfed (his appetite is actually smaller than what the recommendations are for his age)and we give him as much high fiber fruits and veggies as possible. He won’t drink water or juice, so I put a little prune juice in with his bottle a couple times a day. I have tried everything short of suppositories to help him and have just decided to let it be….maybe that is just the way his body works!

May 11, 2011 pooping

by: san

We were up all night. My son was waking up every 1/2 hour to pass the same poop. We are told by our doctor he is fine. The people on this website say that their kid is going through the same thing. Last week we brought him to Sick Kids and had him get an x-ray and ultrasound on his stomach. The kid is so constipated. Right to the top!! His poops are going around the constipated poop with only a piece breaking off. We’ve been giving him laxatives with prune juice, water, juice anything that will make him poop. Doctor at Sick Kids says it will be a few days before he is cleaned out. He is finally pooping without a sound. We don’t even know anymore when he is going. BTW He had a few poops that went up his back. I think THIS is a normal thing every once in a while.

May 11, 2011 Not alone
by: Mommy of 8 month old

My son is almost 8 months old and his main diet is breast milk with some cereal, fruits, veggies, and juice during the day. My son went from pooping every day when he was just on breast milk to once every five days. i was worried when this first happened but i took him to the doctor and she said this is normal since my son is primarily breastfed. Breastfed babies sometimes absorb all the nutrients and do not have anything left over to pass so they do not poop for a few days. So now it is normal for my son to go 5 to 7 days without pooping. Works for me! One stinky diaper a week! Can’t beat that!

Jun 30, 2011 Having the same issues!

by: Anonymous

My son is eight months old and since he has started adding solids to his diet he has had trouble pooping. He will go a week without pooping, straining and crying to get just a tiny piece out (which is not hard)then on about day 7 he finally gets it out and it’s huge then he’ll poop for like two days straight and the whole process will start over again. I wish I knew how to help him. We have tried prune juice, pears, etc.

Aug 21, 2011 Try this

by: Anonymous

Have your child checked for Hirschsprung’s disease.

Oct 07, 2011 Same issues

by: Anonymous

My son is 5 months old and strictly breastfed and has been pooping only once a week for the past 3 months. He is getting enough to eat and doesn’t seem to be bothered by not pooping. But he has not gone 11 days without pooping and I am extremely bothered by it. We have tried giving him apple juice, but no luck yet. I am waiting to hear back from the doctor, hopefully, there is nothing wrong with him.

I also have to say that it is a little interesting that all the comments about this issue have to do with boys. Why is this a problem with mostly boys? hmmmm…. interesting.

Comment By Easy Baby Life: A breastfed baby can go 14 days without pooping. It really is no problem, so don’t make it into one. There is no need for juices to make him go. When he has produced enough waste, he will have a bowel movement. If he is happy and urinates, then just relax.

Oct 26, 2011 Constipated
by: Worried Mum
My son is 15 months old and has suffered from constipation on and off since he started on solids. The doctor prescribed some laxatives which he takes twice a day, this doesn’t always work. He also holds onto his poo, which constipates him more, I find it so distressing because I can see he is pain, he eats plenty of fruit and veg, I haven’t tried suppositories yet, I don’t want to unless it the last resort, he sometimes goes up to 5 days without any bowel movement, and gets a hard tummy. Any suggestions welcome?

Nov 16, 2011 Sometimes it will get worse

by: Anonymous

As a mother of three, I have had this recur several times. Since it was ‘just a phase’ with my oldest daughter, I let it go with my second daughter. Specifically, if the poop is large and painful (maybe soft, but large), this may take some time to resolve. As I found with her, Miralax for just a couple of days doesn’t do it. She had been holding it in for so long, that her bowels stretched. A vicious cycle – the bowels take longer to fill up, they come out bigger, they are more painful, so baby holds it in. Anyway, the Miralax worked, but she had to be on it for several MONTHS in order to give the bowels time to shrink back. We started out with a higher dose the first few days, to ‘clean her out.’ Then very slowly backed the amount down and weaned her off.

Nov 21, 2011 pooping

by: Anonymous

Hi everyone,
like to state my son was constipated back in April through September but its finally in the past. We have him on all the fruits and veggies recommended with water drinking also. he sometimes gets backed up but a few days of peg flakes help with that.
it does get better

Sep 02, 2012 thats normal but…

by: Moe Joe

My daughter 10 months old and she has the same problem as those babies. she is a breastfed and last 2 months she starts some solid food. She starts to cry when she was really quite then I notice maybe that’s a poop problem, so we did use for her the GLYCERIN SUPPOSITORIES LAXATIVE and after 10 minutes she was able to push her poop out it was a large piece of poop.and after she exits her poop the first time we did another suppository so she can exit more poop and yes she was able to push another large and hard piece.try not to give your daughter any solid food like chips or any carbohydrate food. focus on veggie and fiber and liquids.

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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Ashley Pickrell

    Magnesium citrate is what works for my kids. Buy the unflavored powder in bulk, add a little bit to their drink of choice every day. Depending upon their age, we have done between 1/16 tsp to 1 tsp of powder. Obviously, the younger the child the smaller amount. For older kids they do have magnesium citrate gummies. I learned this when my oldest (now a teenager) withheld poop for almost a week while potty training. I did this for my other children when they were infants and I noticed they were having painful poops or constipation. It will help them poop and make it softer. Hope this helps another mama!

    1. Paula @ easybabylife

      Thanks a lot, Ashley! It’s certainly true that magnesium citrate that can relieve constipation. Just a word of caution – it is not recommended for children younger than two years, and it is recommended to consult a doctor to discuss for children between 2 and 5 years. Just so you know and for anywone who wants to try this!


  2. Fritz Basset

    Isn’t it wonderful when they learn to hold onto turds at 10 months? Try the Windi catheter – it will release gas pressure and sometimes the backed up turds.

  3. umm f

    My 8 month old has had the same problem.
    I just discovered the remedy – time in his vibrating bouncer chair produced 3 large stools!
    Now all relaxed and relieved.