bowel movements (frequency in children)

Last reviewed 01/2018

  • formula-fed babies have a mean of about two bowel movements per day, while breast-fed babies have a mean of about three bowel movements per day. With age, the frequency of bowel movements is reduced to about one movement per day in children over 3 years of age (1)

  • a study has shown that 96% of children aged 1-4 years of age had between three bowel movments daily to one bowel movement every other day (2). This emphasises that, provided the child is pain free, parents can generally be reassured that some infrequency of bowel movement is likely to be normal (3)


  • (1) Baker SS, Liptak GS, Colletti RB et al (1999). Constipation in infants and children: evaluation and treatment. A medical position statement of the North American Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr, 29, 612-26.
  • (2) Weaver LT, Steiner H (1984). The bowel habit of young children. Arch Dis Child, 59, 649-52.
  • (3) Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin (2000), 38 (8), 57-60.