Babies are born with a reflex called the gastocolic reflex. Typically when a baby feeds, he will reflexively attempt to empty his bowels. Does this mean that every baby will stool every time he feeds? No. Babies are highly variable in their stooling patterns. Normal can be stooling with every feed to stooling once every 2-3 days. As long as the stool is soft or pasty and your baby is eating well, you should not worry. When babies are first born, the stools will be black and very sticky. This is known as meconium and will gradually change to a softer, yellow-green stool as the baby begins feeding. Typically, when babies are breastfed, the stool will be a yellow-green color and seedy in appearance. Formula fed babies tend to have more green-brown, pasty, and smooth stools. Do not worry if there is a change in the color of your baby’s stool; this is normal. As long as there is no blood or mucus in the stool, you should not worry.
Most babies will cry, grunt, turn red in the face, and/or seem to strain when passing a stool. This is completely normal and should not cause alarm. As long as the stools are soft as described above, there is nothing to do. If your baby ever passes hard or formed balls of stool, please let us know, and we can make some suggestions to help relieve the constipation. Never give your baby any laxatives, enemas, or suppositories without talking with your pediatrician first.