Alteration of bowel movement – Loose motions; Constipation

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Before taking up this topic lets understand what is the character ofnormal stool and its frequency in babies.



  • The breast fed baby may develop increased frequency of motions if the mother is taking drugs like ampicillin, tetracycline, cephalexin or certain laxatives. It is also possible that consumption by the mother of certain food items with high organic acid content like tomatoes, oranges, cherries and chillies could increase the frequency of motions in the breast fed baby.
  • Giving of large quantities of glucose water or honey to the baby may result in loose stools and hence, should be avoided. In an exclusively breast-fed baby, the chances to develop infective diarrhoea are minimal.
  • An infant on cow’s milk or formula feeds who passes loose stools, particularly if they have change in color, character or consistency must be seen by a doctor. This could indicate infection, allergy or milk intolerance.


  • Although most breast-fed infants pass several semi-solid stools, many infants get constipated, particularly in the second month. It is not uncommon for an infant to pass stool as infrequently as every 4 – 5 days. This does not need treatment
  • Constipation may also occur due to inadequate feeding
  • Infants fed on formula or fresh milk often pass firm brown stools. Most pass stools less frequently than breast-fed infants.
  • Constipation is best managed by giving extra sugar in milk (in top fed babies) and additional glucose water.
  • Constipation in absence of any underlying disease process, usually does not require treatment. Laxatives are best avoided. If the baby is uncomfortable however, you may take advice from your doctor. And, if advisable you may help the baby pass stool by inserting a Glycerin Infant Suppository in the baby’s rectum.
  • However, it should be remembered that there are several disease processes which may lead to constipation in a newborn gastrointestinal obstruction anal stenosis, congenital hypothyroidism, Hirschsprung’s disease are a few to be named.