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Infant Dyschezia

What is infant dyschezia?

Dyschezia means difficulty pooping. Infant dyschezia, is a specific condition for infants less than 9 months of age. It is also known as Grunting baby syndrome. This is a condition where the infant appears to have difficulty pooping, but they have no signs of constipation. Infant dyschezia is a muscle coordination problem. It means that the baby is having trouble coordinating the different muscle groups necessary to poop.

What causes infant dyschezia?

This is a learned reflex. It the infant inability to coordinate increased intra-abdominal pressure with relaxation of the pelvic floor muscles. Infants who try to push stool out against a clenched anus will struggle and possibly cry with frustration until they learn to relax it. They may also cry because crying may help the infant produce the necessary abdominal pressure to poop, not because they are in pain.

What are the signs of infant dyschezia?

  • Straining
  • Crying, grunting, or screaming
  • Turning red or purple in the face while making an effort to stool
  • Squirming or kicking feet
  • Symptoms usually persist for 10 - 20 minutes, but can last longer

The behavior may result in a normal (soft, seedy, or pasty) stool or may not result in a stool.

How is it diagnosed?

Your pediatric provider will ask about the infant’s symptoms and what their stools look like.

How should I care for my child?

No treatment is necessary or recommended for infant dyschezia. This condition is self-limiting, meaning infants will learn to coordinate this reflex on their own. It can be upsetting watching your infant struggle, but infants with dyschezia aren’t sick or suffering.

When should I call the clinic?

Call the clinic if:

  • Hard or blood stools
  • No bowel movement in 7 days

What else do I need to know?

Infant dyschezia is easily mistaken for constipation and it is important to distinguish between these two disorders.

Glycerin suppositories and rectal stimulation will interfere with the infant learning the process of stooling and may only prolong the infant’s ability to learn the reflex.


This information is not specific to your child but provides general information. If you have any questions, please call your clinic.

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This page is not specific to your child, but provides general information on the topic above. If you have any questions, please call your clinic. For more reading material about this and other health topics, please call or visit Children's Minnesota Family Resource Center library, or visit

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