When it comes to your health, digestion and frequency of bowel movements are the major indicators of your internal condition in both adults and children. That is why in the newborn babies, it is the amount of poop and its color that is considered as a major indication of health.
According to health experts, the diaper of a baby has a wealth of information that can tell parents and doctors almost everything about the baby’s health and internal system.
Here is a detailed overview about the baby stool, its color and what is considered normal and what is not.
Frequency Of Stool:
Young infants are more prone to loose motions that lead to dehydration.
- According to an Associate Pediatrics Professor at the Missouri University and the Medical Director of Pediatrics at the Kansas City Clinics and Children’s Mercy Hospitals, Kenneth Wible, MD, a lot depends upon the diet of infants when it comes to frequency of baby poop. Breastfed babies have thinner and more stools as compared to the babies who feed on formula food.
- Wible says generally, five to six stools in a day are quite normal and parents should not worry about this. In the early few days, the baby stool frequency can be more, as they settle down, this decrease.
- Barry Steinmetz, MD, and a pediatric gastroenterologist at the Long Beach, Calif, Miller Children’s Hospital through his observation has noted that the bowel movements in each child vary, and hence the frequency differs from one child to another.
- According to Steinmetz, the only thing you should check is whether the stool is soft; the child is gaining weight and eating well.
Some children may poop after every couple of hours, whereas some may poop every alternate day. In breastfed babies, as the milk of the mother matures, there is a sudden drop in the frequency of the bowel movements. But there is no reason to worry as it is quite common since the mother’s milk has all the nutrients in balanced amount due to which there is not much in the form of residue.
[ Read: Baby Health Tips ]
Understanding The Basics Of Baby Stool:
If stools determine the health of your baby, it is always advisable to know a few basics of the poop. Here are the four basic conditions that will help you to understand the basics of the poop better:
1. Basics Of Your Baby’s Stool:
Stool constitutes several components such as bacteria, cells shed from the bile and intestine and the broken-down food.
- Most of the color of the poop is due to the bile that is excreted as byproduct by the liver and sent to the intestine.
- Although immediately after birth the intestine of the infant is sterile, after a few weeks, their poop and intestines carry loads of healthy and diverse bacteria.
- The breastfed infants consume varied range of proteins that depends upon the type of food ingested by the nursing mother.
- The variety of food eaten by the mother also causes changes in the color of the poop.
- In case of formula-fed babies, the color variation in the poop is more due to the bacterial variations.
- The color of poop in both formula-fed and breastfed babies may keep on varying.
[ Read: Raisins for Baby ]
2. Consistency Of The Poop:
You will be surprised to know the variations in the consistencies of the poop of babies. Here are some variations:
- Just as the color, the consistency of poop also shows lots of variations from mushier resembling the yogurt or cottage cheese or thick as peanut butter.
- Babies feeding on breast milk have usually curdy, seedy, yellow or fancy mustard like poop.
- The formula-fed babies have pudding like poop.
- In case, the poop of your baby is log like or pebble like then it is an indication that he is constipated.
3. Timing Of The Poop:
The timing of the poop may differ again as per the baby’s schedule of feeding.
- Some breastfed babies, poop within two hours of feeding.
- Formula fed babies poop once or two times a day and their timing usually becomes fixed after a few days.
- From babies to toddlers and then further into kids, bowel movements become more steady and the timing almost stable.
4. Odor Of The Poop:
One of the major indicators of the health of your baby is the odor of the poop.
- The amount of time it was in the intestine decides the intensity of the smell.
- According to the doctors, the longer the poop inside the intestinal bacteria, the more foul it will smell.
- In some cases, the intense foul smell is because the baby is either allergic or intolerant towards a particular kind of food.
- General observation shows that the poop of breastfed babies do not stink, whereas the poop of formula fed babies have stinky odor.
- When the babies are still fed on milk, the odor is light, whereas when they start taking food and different proteins, they become heavily odorous.
- If the poop smells unusual or stinks than regular, then you should consult the pediatrician about the same.
With these basic factors, it becomes easier to identify whether the poop of the infant is normal or abnormal. In case of abnormality in the poop, you should immediately consult the caregiver, as it is an indication of any internal problem.
For regular monitoring, here is a general overview of baby’s poop for both breastfed and formula fed babies.
[ Read: How To Prepare Formula Milk For Babies ]
Poop Of A Breastfed Baby:
The first milk or colostrum of the mother serves as laxative with the help of which the internal system of the baby pushes the meconium out. The poop color starts showing change after the first three days. Normally the poop of a healthy baby will be:
- Bright to brown mustard yellow or greenish brown, but certainly lighter in color.
- The yellow poop at the start has sweet smell with loose texture.
- The breastfed baby may poop after every feed or even during the feed initially for a few weeks. Hence, four to five times every day in the early weeks is quite normal and there is nothing to be alarmed about it.
- As the weeks roll on, the bowel movements of your baby settle down and later it will come to once or twice a day.
- Sometimes babies poop only thrice or twice a week, that is normal if the consistency of the poop is soft.
- This routine may undergo change when your baby shifts to solid foods, is not well or when he or she starts taking fewer feeds and eating more.
[ Read: How To Introduce Solid Food To Baby ]
Poop Indications Of Formula Fed Babies:
The poop color of formula fed babies is different from the breastfed babies. The indications of normal stool in formula fed babies include:
- The stools are comparatively bulkier, as it is difficult to digest the formula milk than the breast milk.
- The poop has a strong smell, just like adults.
- It is yellowish brown or pale yellow in color.
- The problem of constipation is more common in formula fed babies as the breast milk is much lighter to digest. If such problem persists, you need to consult your caregiver as repeated constipation problem can lead to bleeding.
- The poop color changes immediately if you shift from breast milk to formula food, so you should accordingly check for the shift in your newborn baby poop color and consistency. It is always advisable to make the shift slowly over a few weeks so that your baby’s digestive system can adjust to the change.
Changes In The Poop After Solids:
Just as in case of shift from breast milk to formula feed, once you introduce solids in your baby’s diet, the color and consistency of his or her poop will certainly undergo a dramatic change.
- The foods you introduce will decide the type of poop.
- For example, if you give him pureed carrot or tomato, then her stool will have bright orange or red color.
- Fiber rich foods such as baked beans or raisins won’t be digested and will come back straight away in the nappy as his digestive system is not yet mature enough to digest them.
- As your baby gets older, he or she will be able to digest variety of foods and will then have smelly, darker and thicker poop, just like adults.
Indications Of Poop Color:
Mogul says that if the poop color is anything that is not red or black or even pale yellow in color, then it is normal.However, in case the stools are:
- Black color indicates that there is bleeding inside the stomach or some areas within the gastrointestinal tract.
- Red color indicates that the intestinal tract’s lower part is bleeding.
- Pale poop color indicates that bile is accumulating inside the liver due to some form of blockage.
Green Stools In Infants:
Breastfed babies occasionally have a green stool that is quite normal and can be due to the inclusion of greener food varieties in the meal by the nursing mother. But if you find your child having green stools consistently then it can be a major problem.
- Consistent green stools especially in the breastfed babies indicate:
- The baby might be suffering from some illness related to intestinal virus.
- Sometimes a simple bout of cough and cold can lead to green mucus poop.
- Teething can be another reason for green colored stools, as the increased saliva during this period can lead to tummy upset.
- Frothy green stools can be caused due to imbalance in the hind milk/foremilk.
- The baby can be allergic or sensitive to a particular food that the mother is eating regularly.
- The shift from a milk and liquid diet to solid foods can also have green poop initially.
So, in case your baby green stool, you should evaluate his or her health condition on all the above parameters. If the indications point out that your baby is having some serious health problem then you should immediately contact the pediatrician.
[ Read: Advantages Of Breastfeeding ]
Digestive Health And The Poop Color:
Although all the above factors are examined carefully to determine the digestive health of a child, it is the color of the poop and its consistency that really are the major indicators.
- Depending upon the shade of the poop of an infant, the doctor can even evaluate the condition of the liver of the baby.
- To diagnose if he is suffering from any serious or rare liver disorder such as the biliary atresia or not.
- In this particular type of liver disorder, the poop of the baby is clay or white colored.
Facts On Biliary Atresia:
More than 14,000 infants in the United States suffer from this type of disorder.
- The very first indication of biliary atresia is white or clay colored stool.
- If the parents or even the caregivers fail to identify these symptoms, then it can lead to liver failure and a need for liver transplantation in the children.
- That is why new remedies such as mobile app and the poop color chart have been introduced that help to identify the abnormality in the stool color.
- According to renowned neonatologists at Johns Hopkins such primary measures can make a large difference when it comes to life and death.
- When the poop color chart was used in Taiwan on a nation-wide basis, it led to rapid improvement and diagnosis of biliary atresia and the death rate decreased from 89 percent to 56 percent (as published in the Hepatology journal of 2010).
This makes education about the poop color test very important for both the caregivers and parents. According to Douglas Mogul, a pediatric gastroenterologist although no elaborate education is required in the stool color chart, it is very important that the nurses or the doctors talk about them with the parents and inform them in general.
Now since these poop color charts are available in the form of mobile apps, it has become quite easier for anyone to keep a tab on the changes in the poop color of their baby. So, to avoid health problems in infants, you should better stay updated and follow the latest information.
Do share your views and tips with other parents in the comment section below.
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