What are normal bowel movements for formula-fed babies?
Susan Sorensen pediatrician
Parents spend a lot of time wondering and worrying about whether their infant's bowel movements are "normal." In fact, there's really no such thing. Babies' bowel habits are as individual as they are, and over time you'll get to know your baby's routine.
That said, there is a typical pattern to look for in any baby's bowel habits. During the first few days of life, your baby will pass meconium, the thick, black or dark green substance that was in his intestines before he was born. Once the meconium has passed, the bowel movements of a formula-fed baby are typically yellow, tan, brown, or green. As long as there isn't blood in the stool, any color is normal.
A formula-fed baby's stool is a little bit firmer than a breastfed baby's, about the consistency of peanut butter. If it's much harder than that, it may be a sign of constipation, and you should tell your pediatrician. If you're worried about constipation and your baby is younger than 4 months old, don't feed him anything other than formula or breast milk without checking with your pediatrician first. You may inadvertently deprive your baby of essential nutrients if you feed him a pediatric electrolyte solution, water, or juice. Babies over 4 months can have a few ounces of water a day, but if you think he's constipated, you should talk with your pediatrician about how best to solve the problem.
Another thing to keep in mind is that around 1 to 2 months of age, many babies go from having several bowel movements a day to going several days between bowel movements. This, too, is perfectly normal. It's not how often a baby moves his bowels, but how hard the stool is once it's passed that's cause for concern. When you introduce cereal and other solids to your baby's diet, you can expect dramatic changes in the odor, color, consistency, and frequency of his bowel movements depending on what he's eating.
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