3-month-old with pooping problems - help please!

Our 3-month-old boy is having significant trouble "learning" how to poop - he struggles and pushes for 30-90 minutes before every one and, while he doesn't seem in pain, he does seem pretty uncomfortable and struggling. We told the pediatrician, and she said it common and that we should just wait it out. We believe her, but are wondering if there are any small steps we could take while we're waiting. Any advice for us? Thanks!

Parent Replies

Parents, want to reply to this question? Sign in to post.

We had a similar issue when our son started formula. So I guess that would be my first question, is your son on Formula or Breast Milk? We found that formula is fortified with iron which causes difficulty in pooping. We changed through a number of brands till we found one that it was at least softer and took less time. 

I used probiotics for my infant and found it helpful for her pooping. I was strep B positive so had to have the antibiotics IV during delivery meaning baby missed getting the good bacteria during delivery. 

The kind I used was developed at UC Davis and recommended by another mom. It’s pricey but we did a single round- one month- and it was really helpful. It’s called Evivo and has to be mixed with breast milk. I know there’s other baby probiotics on the market too. 

We had the same issue, and our pediatrician (whom we really like and trust) also said that essentially, that is also normal behavior. Our little guy sometimes seemed to be straining for 50% of his waking hours, and he always seemed uncomfortable, but he was also not a frequent pooper, which confounded us. Some poor little ones just have very immature digestive/bowel systems (read about it all on google), and it just takes a few months for that to get sorted out, is what I understand. I think this lasted around 4-5 months for him, unfortunately. However, we were suggested some remedies for relief. I used a combination of Mylicon gas drops, asked for prescription baby Zantax (I think it is called ranitidine and a very yucky peppermint syrup), and lots and lots of burping. Because I also wanted to have more restful sleep at night, I'd give him Mylicon right before bed and also again when nursing him at night. I never tried gripe water but would've if the Mylicon didn't work. The Zantax helped also, but she did mention that if you start it, it does require some consistency so to try it for a week or so. We did, and it seemed to help. Hope that helps, and good luck!

Is your son formula-fed or breast fed?  If formula, you might want to try a different brand, or a formula with a different base (for example, switch from cow-based to soy based).  Some kids may handle different formulations better.  If breast-fed, the mom might want to check her diet.  There is not a whole lot of science behind this, but some have suggested that the baby can be effected by milk proteins through the mother's milk.  Again, the mom might want to experiment by cutting out dairy or soy products for a couple weeks to see if there are any changes. Even though it's not scientifically proven, it might be worth experimenting. 

If not diet related, a great way to help poops is through baby massage!  We did this whenever our daughter seemed constipated.  Just google it, there are many videos on how to do it. Typically you can use a couple of fingers and just make light U-motions clockwise around the belly button.  We would also bicycle her legs while she was lying down to help keep things moving. 

Good luck!

You could add a little bit of prune juice to their milk. It's a natural laxative. You won't need much.

Hi! 

Have you tried infant massage? Here are some techniques: 

  • Water Wheel - Place one hand under your baby's rib cage with the pinky side down and palm facing your baby's feet. Gently scoop your hand down his abdomen, stopping above his pelvis. Repeat the motion with your other hand, and continue alternating hands fluidly.
  • Knees Up - Bring your baby's bent knees together toward his belly, taking care to provide support behind his knees with your index fingers. Gently press and bounce his knees into his tummy.
  • Sun and Moon - Draw your right hand around your baby's belly in a clockwise full circle and let your left hand follow, drawing a partial clockwise circle.
  • I Love You - Hold your index and middle finger together, like you're taking a Girl Scout oath. Gently press the pads of your index and middle finger down the left side of your baby's belly, from under the rib cage to the leg crease, like an "I". Then, starting on the left side of your baby's belly, drag your index and middle finger across to the right and then down, like an inverted "L". After that, starting at your baby's right leg crease, drag your fingers in the shape of an upside-down "U" over the bellybutton and all the way to the left leg crease.
  • Thumbs to Sides - Hold your baby at the waist with both your thumbs in the center of his belly. Draw both thumbs out to the sides of his abdomen simultaneously.

Before you begin a massage, always check in with your baby and ask permission to massage him. If he's open and receptive to massage at that time, place a few drops of gentle, scent-free massage oil, such as organic sunflower oil, into your palms and rub your hands together near your baby's head. The sound of your palms rubbing will become a non-verbal cue that lets your baby know he'll be receiving a massage. Now rest your open hands on his belly and take several cleansing breaths to relax before you start.

Vimala McClure, founder of the International Association of Infant Massage and author of Infant Massage: A Handbook for Loving Parents, recommends repeating what she refers to as "The Colic-Relief Routine" twice a day for at least two weeks. This routine involves doing the following in succession for six counts each: Water Wheel, followed by Knees Up, Sun and Moon, and, lastly, Knees Up again.
 

It may be totally normal, but there can be other causes, but you don't mention in other issues in your post so I am guessing normal.  Our child had anal stenosis when she was little. It sounds different than your situation as it was interfering with her ability to hold her meals down- she would puke or spit up after nursing and she wasn't gaining weight sufficiently. She was having trouble evacuating as the opening was quite narrow. She would try not to poo and would arch back, etc. I guess you have to look at the whole picture of what goes in and what goes out , frequency etc.

Don't worry about it. He's likely just fine. Some babies are just very dramatic poopers and will make all manner of grunting noises, growling, fussing, go red in the face, and look like they're really working hard before pooping. As long as he IS pooping, and it's soft, without blood or other obvious problems, just let him be. He's just learning how to coordinate his muscles. This isn't something you can really help him with. Digital rectal stimulation w/ a pinky finger or rectal thermometer can help trigger a BM for babies, but don't do it if he's not constipated. Congrats on your new babe!

We added some prune juice to our boy's milk.  Like a table spoon.

Our daughter had this problem too. She did eventually grow out of it (mostly). I regret that we did not do more at the time - she would strain for up to 30 minutes or more to have a bowel movement. Now that she is 7, it still hurts her to poop because she has hemorrhoids from all that straining. I would put your son on a daily dose of Miralax or another laxative as soon as possible. We did that for a while and it helped - I wish we had continued it longer. Good luck. 

We had the same issue with our newborn, and it resolved itself. Hang in there, he will indeed figure it out.

The only thing we tried, which may or may not have helped, was a probiotic. Our pediatrician recommended it, although studies aren't conclusive.  I can't say if it helped, or if time helped.

Fiber - There's not enough fiber in his diet which is why he is struggling.  Add a quarter to a full teaspoon of psyllium to his diet.  You'll see results in a day.

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/fiber-supplements/faq-20058513

Today some pediatricians (including ours) ok starting solids at 4 months.  Sounds like the minute that's possible for you, prunes are on the menu.  They are an easily digested food so can be given at 4 months, and of course, get things going!  Just be prepared for the prune blowouts (and you probably don't need to give him the entire package).  You could also do a combination of apple and prune, or pear and prune - just anything with prunes!  If that sounds like too much risk of a blowout, pears should also do the trick.

With my baby I tried massaging the tummy area especially below the naval with castro oil and it seemed to help. Good luck. It is hard to see our little ones go thru these difficult changes.

Our daughter was the same and we later discovered she had a lot of food intolerances. All those things doctors suggested -- prunes, Myralax, tummy massage, etc etc didn't help her and none of it addressed the root issue. She ended up have a gluten allergy and she was getting it through my breast milk. If you bring her to a NAET specialist (alternative doctor), they can tell you what foods she is sensitive to. You can also experiment with your diet and figure it out on your own. Try cutting out dairy, gluten and soy to start and see if it improves. It takes 2 weeks for gluten to leave your system. Corn is also a common allergen and my daughter can be sensitive to that sometimes as well. If symptoms improve, gradually try adding back in one thing at a time and then waiting a few days to see what happens so you can determine which food impacts your baby.

Best of luck!