Baby Poo!

It’s amazing how much time parents spend inspecting babies’ nappies! You tend to worry that your baby’s poo is the wrong colour or texture, or that he’s pooing too often, or not enough.

However, what’s normal for your baby will depend on:

  • how old he is
  • whether he’s breastfed or bottle fed
  • whether he’s started solids

Newborn poo

Meconium is a baby’s first poo. This is usually a dark greenish or black colour and is very sticky. This newborn poo is actually bile, mucous, amniotic fluid and dead skin cells that have collected in baby’s intestines while in utero. It may be difficult to wipe off that tiny bottom, but it is a good sign that your baby’s bowels are working normally. Meconium is usually passed within 12 hours after birth. This process is speeded up by colostrum, which has a laxative effect, so the more you breastfeed the faster this meconium will be excreted. By the second day or so this has moved to more greeny and then on to a typical breastfed stool – mustard yellow in colour and very soft to liquid with bits in it.

Breastfeeding poo

Bright or mustard yellow. This yellow poo may smell slightly sweet (DH 2009). It is loose in texture. The poos may seem grainy at times, curdled at others. In the early weeks, your baby may poo during or after every feed. For other babies or at other times your baby may poo once every few days or even once a week. This is not a problem as long as your baby’s poos are soft and pass easily(CKS 2010, DH 2009). Some moms might be worried that their baby has diarrhoea but a runny poo is perfectly normal in breastfed babies.

Bottle fed poo

Bottle fed babies normally need to poo every day to feel comfortable and avoid constipation (UNICEF 2010).
Lots of babies strain and cry a bit when they poo, but it doesn’t mean there’s a problem. As long as your baby’s poos are soft and easy to pass (DH 2009), there’s no cause for concern. Bottle fed babies poos are bulkier (UNICEF 2010) in texture than breastfed babies (a bit like the texture of toothpaste). This is because formula milk can’t be digested as fully as breast milk (DH 2009). They may be pale yellow or yellowish-brown in colour and strong smelling. Bottle fed babies are more prone to constipation than breastfed babies. Formula fed babies usually only poo about 5 times per day in the beginning and after a few months it decreases to about one poo per day.

Starting solids poo

Starting your baby on solids will have a dramatic effect on his poo. You’ll find that his poos are affected by the foods he eats. If he has pureed carrot, the poo of his next nappy could be bright orange. If he has peas, it could be bright green. You may find fibre-rich foods, such as raisins or baked beans, pass straight through your baby and end up in his nappy. This will change when he gets older and is able to digest fibre more efficiently. As he moves on to a wide variety of foods, his poos will become thicker, darker and a lot smellier. (DH 2009)Your baby’s poo will change as he develops from a newborn through his first year. They may also change from one day to the next!
Constipated poo

Many babies turn bright red and push hard when they do a poo. This is normal.
Constipation, is when his poos are small dry hard pellets.

Breastfed babies don’t become constipated as breast milk has laxative properties.

Constipation can also be caused by:

  • incorrect mixing of formula feeds
  • fever
  • dehydration
  • changes in fluid intake
  • a change in diet
  • certain medications

Increase your baby’s fluid intake, as well as the amount of fibre in his diet if he is on solids. Giving pureed prunes or apricots can be a good way to do this.

Diarrhoea

  • his poo is very runny
  • he is pooing more often, or passing larger amounts than normal
  • the poo is explosive or spurts out of his bottom

If you are breastfeeding your baby, he is less likely to suffer from diarrhoea. This is because your milk helps to prevent the growth of the bacteria that cause it (DH 2009). Bottle fed babies are more prone to infection, which is why it’s so important to sterilise equipment.
If your baby has diarrhoea, the cause could be

  • an infection, such as gastroenteritis
  • too much fruit or juice
  • a reaction to medication
  • a sensitivity or allergy to a food

Green poo

Most of the time a green poo is nothing to worry about but there are a couple of things that can cause green poo

  • Jaundice can cause green poos and will go back to normal as soon as the jaundice is resolved
  • Formulas that are fortified with iron can also cause green poo
  • Green poo in breastfed baby may indicate a food sensitivity or could mean nothing
  • Green mucous poo that is frothy can indicate foremilk / hindmilk imbalance
  • Oversupply of breast milk with too much watery foremilk
  • If mom eats a lot of salad or green foods it can affect baby’s poo colour
  • Green poo can be a sign that your baby is taking in too much lactose (the natural sugar found in milk)
  • Side effects of medication
  • Gastro

Black poo

Baby black poo can be a result of taking iron supplementation or iron fortified formula

Blood in poo

  • Bloody poo can indicate constipation
  • Can also be caused by blood in breast milk which is usually due to moms cracked nipples
  • Food allergies can also be a cause
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