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Ask the Pediatrician

Dr. Jennifer Shu and her team of pediatricians answer your health questions.

Dr. Jennifer Shu

Question & Answer


My 4-week-old only has a bowel movement once a day, but they are soft stools. She strains and screams a lot. Any suggestions on what to do?


By: Dan Brennan, MD, CLC, FAAP

Tummy trouble, such as the straining and screaming that your baby is experiencing with a bowel movement, is a common and normal experience for many 4 week-old infants.

Producing a soft bowel movement once a day is very reassuring.  Passage of firm stool could be a sign of constipation or dehydration, suggesting the need for increased fluid intake.  Bowel movements with mucus or blood could be an indication of milk intolerance and should prompt a call to the pediatrician.

The good news is that this is a temporary condition that will get better in the weeks to come.  Until that time, techniques such as frequent burping and tummy massage will help your baby feel more comfortable.

For more information from Dr. Brennan, click here.

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