Baby poop becomes a very popular subject for mothers all over the world when something sticks out that isn’t exactly ‘normal’. As a mother, it is important to know what is considered normal for baby poop and what are the signs that a doctor should take a peep at that funky poop.
Baby poop comes in all shapes, sizes, colors, and consistencies(especially different between breastfed and formula fed babies), making it one of the most interesting subjects for moms and pediatricians alike. To get a better understanding of baby poop, let’s examine the colors, frequency, and things to watch out for as a baby progresses through the first year of life:
Meconium, A Baby’s First Poop
Within twelve hours of being brought into the world, the baby will pass meconium, a dark black, tar like substance. It is composed of amniotic fluids, skin cells, and other stuff ingested while in utero(1). It will pass over the first two days of life.
All the Colors of the Rainbow
After the meconium passes, newborns have consistent bowel movements. Breastfed babies and formula fed babies have different poop consistencies and colors. Formula fed babies tend to have have thicker bowel movements that are tan in color, while breastfed babies have all colors of the rainbow poop(it usually is yellow and seedy). Of course, babies poop in all different colors and consistencies for a variety of reasons(usually diet or illness), which is why the following section will explain all the colors that may pop into little miss sunshine’s diaper:
Every so often, that ill-fated green poop will magically appear in the baby’s diaper. You may be wondering how that poop got there, perhaps freak out a little bit, but remember that there are a number of reasons that green poop is coming out of that bundle of joy. Here are some of the main possibilities:
Not all, but some iron-fortified formula fed babies will develop a dark green poop due to the iron concentration. There is no need to discontinue the formula, so long as the baby is happy and growing well.
A food allergy can present itself as green, mucousy poop with blood strung throughout the stool(not on it, but in it). Other symptoms may be excessive spitting up, fussiness, and a skin rash. Most often it is due to an allergy to the bovine protein found in all dairy products. If the baby is breastfed it is important that the mother stop eating dairy products for at least three weeks. After three weeks if the mucousy poop has disappeared, then it is important to stop dairy products until she is done breastfeeding. If the baby is formula fed, you may have to switch to a more sensitive formula that is soy based(1,2).
Other foods could be the culprit as well, including: wheat, eggs, soy, and nuts. It is more common in families that already have an allergy to a specific food.
Although not as common as a virus or a food allergy, if your baby has green frothy looking stools, then it may be caused by a foremilk/hindmilk imbalance. This means that the baby is getting to much foremilk, the thinner milk that begins a feeding and not enough hindmilk, the richer milk toward the end of a feeding. The best remedy is to allow the baby to start and end the feeding and let the baby feed on one breast each feeding rather than ten minutes on each(2). Don’t worry your breasts will adjust over a few days and it will help balance the baby’s meal.
An imbalance may produce other symptoms like blood in the stools, gassiness, and fussiness since there is an overabundance of lactose in the baby’s digestive system.
Not all green poop is cause for concern(remember that plate of spinach you had, well there it is), but it never hurts to call the doctor. Green poop may be a sign of a virus or an infection which should be attended to immediately. If your baby is happy and healthy, then the range of colors from yellow to green are perfectly normal(1,2).
Black poop does happen. It may seem weird but it is very common around four to six months of age when babies are supplemented with iron. If you started your baby on an iron supplement or iron-fortified formula, black spots in the poop may show up and this is nothing to worry about(2). However, if the baby is eliminating black, tarry stools that may look like dark blood, then it is very important to see a doctor immediately as it could be a sign of intestinal bleeding.
Blood in Stools
Blood in your baby’s poop is not as rare as one may think. Blood is an indicator for moms that something is not right with baby, whether that means a virus, an infection, an anal tear, or a food allergy. If you see blood in your baby’s poop it is important to call the doctor to determine the cause of the bleed.
Babies that Poop A Lot or None At All
Most babies poop all of the time, especially breastfed babies. A breastfed baby can be expected to soil up to ten diapers per day, usually after waking up or right after a feeding. This will change around six months of age when solid foods are introduced.
Formula fed babies poop a great deal to, but only for the first month or so and then their digestive systems adjust and mothers may only one or two poops a day. Moreover, some mothers may only see three or for poops a week. The only time for concern is when your baby has gone three or more days without pooping(2). This is a sign of constipation or an intestinal blockage which needs to be remedied immediately.
Pooping is fun. It is important to make diaper changes an enjoyable part of baby’s day because it will instill good thoughts about the process of eliminating. According to the American Pediatric Association, babies who were calm and content during diaper changes were easier to potty train when they were ready to do so.
In addition, your baby’s bowel movements will teach you about your baby’s digestive system and his or her wellness. So the next time that you see a rainbow of poop, smile and laugh with your baby and remember that most poops are okay poops, but it is never wrong to call the doctor if something isn’t right.
1. American Pediatric Association
2. Mayo Clinic, What’s Normal- Baby Poop