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 more firm 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.
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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.
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