Baby Crying While Pooping

Reviewed on 6/7/2021

Baby crrying
In most cases, babies cry when they poop because their digestive system is immature.

The first few months with a baby are often a learning curve for parents.

Every little deviation from the normal is a cause for concern. One scare parents often face is the baby’s pooping problems. Is my baby pooping enough? Why does my baby turn red and appear to strain while pooping?

The good news is that most newborn babies strain and cry, and their faces may turn red when they have a bowel movement. Newborn babies will have one or more bowel movements daily, but may skip passing stools for a day (sometimes even days). This is normal if the baby is active and gaining weight.

Breastfed babies' stools are golden yellow, soft, and slightly runny. The stools of formula-fed babies tend to be a little firmer but should not be hard or formed. It is difficult for the baby to pass stools because their abdominal muscles are weak. 

In most cases, no intervention is necessary. If the stool is hard like a pellet, tinged with mucus or blood or there are rashes around the baby’s anus, contact the pediatrician.

Other reasons for babies crying when pooping may include

  • In most cases, babies cry when they poop because their digestive system is immature. Their anus remains tight, causing them to strain (although they can create pressure to push the stool out). The baby might also be constipated or have a difficult time passing a bowel movement in the position they are in.
  • Some babies seem to be extra sensitive to harder poop, especially when they start with solid foods. The poop doesn’t have to be very hard at all for some of the babies to cry.
  • If the baby just recently started to cry and hasn’t had any problems earlier, an anal tear or diaper rash could be making the bowel movement painful. Some food intolerances could also be causing problems.
  • If the baby, however, has always had these problems, contact a doctor to exclude any blockage or other issues that make the pooping painful.

How can I relieve my baby’s gas?

Most newborns, particularly between the ages of one to four months, suffer from gas. This is more common in bottle-fed infants as compared to the breastfed ones. Even babies on pacifiers have this issue. A few methods to relieve gas in the baby are

  • Simple home remedies for baby gas:
    • A warm bath and compress work as the best natural remedy for colicky babies and offers respite from gas. Warm water helps relieve pain. Soak a towel in warm water, squeeze it, and gently rub it on the baby’s abdomen.
    • The gentle massaging of the abdomen can be calming and relaxing, but even more importantly, the pressure on the baby’s abdomen can help expel the gas. Also, try the “colic hold” to help relieve pressure in a gassy baby. To do this hold, lay the baby across the lap on their abdomen.
  • Positioning and bottles that prevent gas:
    • When breastfeeding, get a good latch. When bottle-feeding, make sure the mouth is covering the nipple completely. This helps avoid the baby taking in excess air into their stomach. Always ensure that the baby’s head is higher than their tummy. It will make swallowing and natural digestion easier.
    • Gulping down breast milk too quickly can trap air, so introduce some short breaks into the feeding. Break the latch, pause for 10 to 15 seconds, and then resume. Take a 30-second break between breasts.
    • Some bottles are specially made to minimize air bubbles and some bottles have a special vent system to eliminate negative pressure and air bubbles. Pay attention to the milk flow from the nipple. Most bottle systems have levels or numbers on the nipples to indicate the suggested age of use for each nipple.
    • Try switching to a slower flow nipple. This will help the baby suck in less gas, reducing flatulence.
  • Breastfeeding diet to reduce gas:
    • If breastfeeding, eating foods that the baby is sensitive to could cause the baby to be gassy. If unsure what is causing the gas, try cutting one specific food out of the diet for a week at a time to see if it helps. Some common foods that can cause the baby to be gassy include
      • Dairy
      • Soy
      • Gluten
      • Eggs
      • Nuts
      • Vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage
  • Baby bicycle kicks:
    • Although choosing the right bottle nipple and giving the baby's infant probiotics are good for preventing gas, making the baby do some good old-fashioned bicycle kicks can help the baby pass gas. This is also a great opportunity to bond with the baby. To perform this move, follow these simple steps:
      • Lay the baby on a soft blanket on the floor (or activity mat).
      • Sit in front of the baby and move the baby’s legs as if they are peddling on a bicycle.

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References
WebMD. The Scoop on Baby Poop. https://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/the-scoop-on-baby-poop

Brown T. Infant Gas: How to Prevent and Treat It. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/features/infant-gas

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