Five week old doesn't have bowel movement every day

My daughter is five weeks old and is exclusively breastfed. Sometimes go one or two days without a bowel movement. She is also gassy and she cries as if in pain. Her weight gain has been good and she has plenty of wet diapers. My first daughter was also breastfed exclusively and she had anywhere from five to eight bowel movements a day. Should I be concerned?

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Debbi Donovan

Debbi Donovan is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, as well as a retired La Leche League Leader. For more than a decade, Debbi... Read more

Dear Laura,

It is not unusual to find slightly different elimination patterns from one baby to the next. Since your baby is exclusively breastfed (meaning that all her nutritional and sucking needs are met at the breast), it is unlikely that she is suffering from constipation. It usually is not a problem for the breastfed baby.

In the first five to six weeks of a baby's life it is normal for a baby to stool at least two to three times each day, and sometimes as often as following each feed. This pattern gradually may transition around your baby's age.

It is normal at this time for your baby to wet five to six diapers each day and have regular, substantial bowel movements. Some very healthy, happy breastfed babies who are growing and developing well have a huge bowel movement only every seven to ten days. When a baby is truly constipated she will have dry and hard stools. You may see streaks of blood in the stool.

Since a baby under six months of age does have an immature digestive system, it is not uncommon for them to be gassy and have some difficulty passing a bowel movement -- even when it is soft. They may cry, grunt and groan - and seem very uncomfortable.

Since your baby is otherwise happy, with good output, and growing well, it is unlikely that there is a problem with her bowel pattern. If you are still concerned, it is very important to discuss this issue with your baby's Health Care Provider, so you can put your mind at ease.

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