A baby sleeping on his mother's tummy.


Having a fussy baby can be frustrating, especially when you don’t know what’s causing all the fuss. But knowing what makes your baby feel uncomfortable might depend on whether his or her digestive system is in good working order.

So what’s normal? The normal range for bowel movements in babies is pretty vast; stool frequency, color and texture varies from baby to baby, and from day to day. Stool can be yellow, green or brown and still be considered normal. Normal consistency ranges from runny applesauce to playdough.

If your child is not having regular bowel movements, he or she might be experiencing diarrhea or constipation. But don’t worry, learning how to recognize the symptoms of both will help you manage the conditions better. And you’ll find those symptoms, and how to help, below.


If your child is having difficulty passing stool, passing stool that is hard and dry, or having bowel movements less frequently than usual, she/he may be constipated.


  • Eating solid foods for the first time. It is possible that some of the foods you feed your baby for the first time—such as rice cereal—don’t provide enough fiber to promote regular bowel movements.
  • Dehydration. Your child’s body, when not properly hydrated, absorbs fluids from whatever he or she eats and drinks, including fluid from the waste in the bowels.
  • Illness or other medical conditions. Some babies develop diseases, or have underlying medical conditions, that can disrupt normal digestive functions and result in chronic constipation. Check with your doctor if your baby has difficulty passing stools.

What can you do?
Some doctors recommend adding 30 to 60 milliliters of prune, apple or pear juice to breast milk. The natural sugar in these juices will help to loosen the stool. You can also exercise your child’s legs to break up the hardened stools in the bowels, or gently massage his or her stomach if symptoms continue.

Do not give your baby over-the-counter stool softeners unless advised by your pediatrician or healthcare professional.


When your child’s stool suddenly becomes softer and more frequent than what’s normal for him or her, your child might have diarrhea.

Diarrhea can be caused by an infection or your baby's inability to properly digest certain nutrients in food.

Talk to your doctor while continuing to breastfeed. Your doctor may prescribe a soy or lactose-free formula. Please consult your doctor if the symptoms do not get better.

When Should You Call a Healthcare Professional?
If the frequency and volume of diarrhea become excessive or if you notice any of the following symptoms, call your pediatrician or healthcare professional:

  • Blood or mucus in stools
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Irritability
  • Refusal to eat
  • Decreased or dark-colored urine
  • Decreased activity
Information provided is for general background purposes and is not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment by a trained professional. You should always consult your physician about any healthcare questions you may have, especially before trying a new medication, diet, fitness program, or approach to healthcare issues.
  • share Share
  • print Print
  • download Download

You are about to exit for another Abbott country or region specific website

Please be aware that the website you have requested is intended for the residents of a particular country or region, as noted on that site. As a result, the site may contain information on pharmaceuticals, medical devices and other products or uses of those products that are not approved in other countries or regions.

The website you have requested also may not be optimized for your specific screen size.

Do you wish to continue and exit this website?


You are about to exit the Abbott family of websites for a 3rd party website

Links which take you out of Abbott worldwide websites are not under the control of Abbott, and Abbott is not responsible for the contents of any such site or any further links from such site. Abbott is providing these links to you only as a convenience, and the inclusion of any link does not imply endorsement of the linked site by Abbott.

The website that you have requested also may not be optimized for your screen size.

Do you wish to continue and exit this website?