Poop, everyone checks everything about it once they defecate it. After all, it is one best indicator of an individual’s health, is it not?
“What is in poop? It is just a foul-smelling waste product leaving our body,” it might be some people’s take on poop. But in reality, it is more than that. Though not many accept it, most of us examine the poop soon after defecation by staring at the toilet bowls, taking a deep breath to know whether it smells as usual, and so on. When this bothers us adults so much, in the case of infants it definitely raises a concern as a parent. A baby's eating, sleeping, and excretory habits are of high importance as they determine the baby's overall health.
Poop, especially babies’, is a vital at-home health assessment tool for the concerned parents. Yes, factors attached to poop such as poop color, consistency, frequency, and smell reflect your baby’s well-being. Hence, each time you change your baby’s diaper, attention to detail is essential. Equal importance to both the baby’s food intake and defecating habits is needed. Though initially unpleasant to assess, it eventually becomes an undeniable part and parcel of your parental care duties for the sake of your child’s health.
Babies grow and develop fast. Similarly, how your baby’s stool looks also changes and is normal. Based on what you feed your baby, the stool consistency also varies.
Meconium - The first stool that your baby excretes within 24 hours of birth is called meconium. This meconium is made of amniotic fluid swallowed while within the womb, skin cells, mucus, hair, and other swallowed particles. It takes a few days for your baby to eliminate all the meconium. Until then, your baby’s excretory matter will be gooey, tar-like, and dark green, lacking any smell. Once the whole meconium gets eliminated from the body, regular poop will be produced and excreted.
Stools After Meconium - Babies start to excrete regular stools that look different from meconium. This regular stool keeps differing on what you feed your child.
Breast Milk - Newborns are breastfed, resulting in a runny consistency poop with whitish fat particles. Mucus will be present, but not as much as it would be in meconium. Stay informed; your baby’s stool color also changes based on what you (the baby’s mother) eat. If you eat spinach, your baby’s poop will be green.
Formula Milk - If your baby is formula-fed, the stool consistency should be a little paste-like and not as runny as a breastfed child’s stool. The color is usually tan or dark yellow.
Stools During Weaning - As you begin to introduce solid foods to your baby (at six months of age), the stool will smell strong, with pieces of undigested foods in it. The consistency also becomes firmer.
1. Black -
The first poop of a baby “meconium” is black and tar-like. It is normal to have black stools for the first few days of life. However, if it extends beyond, it necessitates you to take your child to the pediatrician.
2. Mustard-Yellow -
Breastfed babies pass mustard-yellow stools once their meconium completely gets eliminated from the body.
3. Yellow -
Breastfed and formula-fed babies usually pass bright yellow stools. But breastfed babies pass runny consistency stools, and formula-fed babies pass stools of peanut butter consistency.
4. Orange -
When unaccompanied by any symptoms, orange poop is normal. Once babies start eating solid foods during weaning, orange stools can appear due to the orange foods they consume, such as carrots, apricots, etc. Even if the breastfeeding mother consumes orangish foods and supplements, the baby can pass orange poop. But if any other symptoms persist, consult your pediatrician.
5. Red -
If your child has not consumed any red foods like beetroots or tomatoes and still is passing red stools, the condition is serious, and medical care must be sought. Apart from red foods, if the baby's poop is red, there is blood in the poop, or bleeding while defecating, it indicates an underlying medical condition. Common conditions causing red poop necessitating medical care include intestinal infection, anal fissure, and milk allergy.
6. Greenish -
Firm and greenish stools with a slight tan are a normal stool color in bottle-fed babies.
7. Dark Green -
If the breastfeeding mother consumes greenish foods such as spinach, peas, etc., or if the baby consumes such green foods, the poop color becomes green. Once the food gets digested and leaves the body completely, the stool color will revert to normal.
8. White -
If your baby is pooping white, we would like to keep you informed; it is a serious condition requiring your pediatrician’s attention. Any problem with the liver affects bile production, which results in white poop. Bile is a pigment produced in the liver that gives the poop its color.
9. Gray -
Gray and chalky white poops are unusually indicative of some digestive disorders in your child. Seek medical help.
Babies have daily bowel movements, especially breastfed ones. Until six weeks of age, breastfed babies poop several times a day, ranging between two to five times. After six weeks, when their digestive system is able to digest the breast milk more efficiently, it is normal to poop only once a week.
If you are bottle-feeding your baby, then once-a-day bowel movement or going a day or two without a bowel movement is normal. Once your child shifts to solid foods, their bowel movements become regular as adults.
Constipation - If your baby’s poop is brownish, pebble-like, and firm, with the presence or absence of blood, it indicates constipation. Do not try any home remedies, instead, reach your pediatrician’s office or consult a physician online considering the pandemic.
Diarrhea - If your baby is passing stools of watery consistency (looser than usual) after every feeding session, he or she is suffering from diarrhea. It can lead to dehydration. Seek medical help.
Changes in the little one’s poop should be tensing to the new parents out there. Even a minute change in color or consistency should invite concern for your child. Based on the information above, you can assess your child’s poop and health and reach out to a pediatrician below.
The poop color, consistency, and smell vary according to the food given to babies. It is listed below:
- In breastfed babies, the poop color of the baby change with the type of mother's food. Sometimes it may look green if the mother eats spinach and feeds the baby. The poop looks yellow and runny with fat particles and some mucus.
- Babies fed with formula milk: the poop color looks tan to dark yellow—the consistency changes to paste-like.
- Babies on solid food: The poop color looks yellow with a strong smell and firm consistency, and has some undigested food particles.
The newborn baby can poop nearly eight times a day during the first few months, and it later decreases to three to four times a day after three to four months. It happens due to the natural reflex (gastrocolic reflex), in which the bowel motility increases and the stomach stretches to hold more food. The formula-fed babies poo less than breastfed babies—nearly two or three times a day in the initial months. Once the babies eat solid foods, they may poop once a day or a week.
It is usual for newly born babies to pass black color poop known as the 'meconium' (consisting of cells, mucus, and amniotic fluid). However, if the color changes to red, green, dark brown, or white in breastfed, or weaned babies, a consultation with the pediatrician is essential as it is associated with other body disorders. In addition, sometimes, if the mother eats beetroot, carrots, and spinach, the baby's poop may look red or green.
When the baby seems uncomfortable and passes brownish pebble-like poop, it is considered constipated poop, and sometimes blood may or may not be present. The baby strains or pushes more to pass the poop. It occurs due to various reasons, mainly due to decreased water consumption. Different home remedies are tried to treat constipation, but it is essential to visit the pediatrician for management.
The features that indicate infants have diarrhea are as follows:
- The breastfed babies pass stools nearly six times daily, and newborn babies poop after every feed. But if the consistency is more watery and suddenly the frequency of poops increases, it may be diarrhea.
- A poop that smells bad or contains blood or mucus is also considered diarrhea.
- If the poop happens more than four times a day with a watery consistency and unusual smell, it is considered diarrhea in formula-fed babies.
- Untreated diarrhea can lead to severe dehydration (loss of body fluids) in babies.
Tummy time refers to a time when awake babies are made to lie on their stomachs on a flat surface, and it is usually monitored by the parents alongside. It is started a few days after birth for one to two minutes. It is gradually increased to 10 to 15 minutes daily. The baby can be made to lie on the mother's lap, after that on a flat floor. The benefits of tummy time are:
- Strengthens the neck, head, and upper body of the baby.
- It develops crawling, sitting, and standing skills in infants.
- It prevents the flat spot on the back of the head as they lie on the back for a long time.
If the baby has a milk allergy, the poop may look watery, and the frequency increases, indicating diarrhea. The poop may also contain blood and look green. The other milk allergy symptoms in babies are vomiting, excessive crying, itching, rashes on hands, etc. If the dairy products are avoided, the symptoms can resolve within a few weeks. However, consulting a pediatrician for diet changes and further treatment is essential.
Some babies cry while pooping if the poop is hard. The anus remains tight, and the babies strain to push out the poop. Certain babies are oversensitive to poops that are firm as they are newly introduced to solid foods. The constipated poop occurs primarily due to decreased fluid intake by babies. If it does not resolve and keeps recurring, specialist advice is necessary.
In breastfed babies, bowel movements occur daily, and they poop several times a day. Formula-fed babies pass stools three to four times a day but may remain without pooping for three days. It is considered normal if the poop is soft in consistency and passed without struggle. Babies, after six months of age, are started with solid foods. Their bowel movements are active daily and sometimes stay without pooping for five days. However, any discomfort or crankiness in babies should be noticed and consulted to improve bowel movements.
In breastfed infants, the color of the stool is yellow with whitish substances in it. The normal poop remains runny in consistency without any smell in breastfed infants. The color of the poop change according to the type of mother's food. For example, if the mother eats carrots, the poop color may look orange. Consider consulting the pediatrician if the color, consistency, and frequency of the poop change.
Last reviewed at:
29 Mar 2022 - 5 min read
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