Every parent’s guide to decoding your baby's poop
Understanding your baby’s health can be a challenging task. However, decoding your little one’s health through his poop can be a life-saver at such times. The baby’s poop is different at every stage of his feeding pattern – for example, there is the difference between a newborn baby’s poop and that of a breastfed baby, the difference between the poop of one who is on infant formula and a baby who has started eating complementary foods.
Let us first understand the different types of baby poop based on various life stages and feeding patterns.
Newborn baby poop
A baby’s poop looks quite different during the initial days of birth. It can be greenish-black, tarry, and sticky in consistency. This type of poop is commonly known as meconium and is completely normal. It comprises of amniotic fluids, mucus, skin cells, and all other things ingested when the baby was in your uterus.
Breastfed vs. formula milk-fed infants
One of the common queries most parents have is what quantity of baby poop is normal. If you are breastfeeding your baby, he or she will pass thinner stools as compared to a baby who is being formula-fed. But five to six stools per day is normal.
It is very common to see a lot of baby poop during the early days of his or her life, but the newborn poop frequency might vary. It can go up to seven or eight times in a day.
The poop colour of a breastfed baby might be mustard yellow, green, or brown. Its texture will be paste-like and sometimes even runny. The smell of a healthy baby’s poop is sweet with no odour. On the other hand, the poop colour of a formula milk-fed baby is yellow or brown, with a consistency like that of peanut butter. The frequency of stools in this case is lower when compared to a breastfed baby, but the poop quantity is more and it is full of odour.
Babies having complementary foods
The consistency, colour, and frequency of a baby’s poop change when he starts consuming complementary foods along with breast milk.
When a child starts taking complementary or solid foods, the poop consistency becomes firmer and there is also a change in colour. The colour often reflects what the child ate the previous day.
What does a baby’s poop colour signify?
Most parents get anxious if their baby’s poop colour changes, but usually, it is not a matter of concern. The change in the baby’s poop colour simply indicates the change in the feeding pattern of the child.
Here is a simple guide to understanding this better:
Orangish yellow or yellow colour- If the poop colour is yellow, orange or even brown, it simply means that the baby is completely normal and is comfortable with breast milk or infant formula.
Green colour- Poop of babies who start taking iron supplements is often green in colour. It usually happens between 4 to 6 months of age, when he is fed with solid foods like peas, spinach or beans. If you are feeding formula milk which is iron fortified, your baby’s poop can turn dark greenish.
Black blood- Little specks of black blood simply signify that the baby has ingested blood while breastfeeding, from his mother’s cracked or bleeding nipples. Though it is not a sign of danger, it is still better to check with a doctor.
When should you be concerned?
Parents should be concerned if their baby’s poop shows the following symptoms:
- White colour might be an indication of infection or may indicate that the child is not digesting food properly.
- Red colour indicates blood that can be due to milk protein allergy, an infection or anal fissure, if your child tends to strain while passing stools. It can also occur if your child has eaten red coloured food like beetroot, carrots or tomatoes the previous day. If your child has not eaten these and still passes red coloured stool, consult your paediatrician.
- Runny or watery poop that occurs more than once after every feed is a clear indication of diarrhoea. When left untreated, this can cause dehydration too.
- When your baby’s poop is hard, like pebbles, it might be a sign of constipation. Often, babies suffer from constipation when any solid food is introduced in their diet. Also, a baby may be sensitive to milk or soy, and suffer from constipation. If your child has started eating complimentary food, include fibre-rich foods in her diet and increase liquid consumption to help ease constipation.
- Sometimes, frothy poop or mucus in the poop can be a sign of an infection, but at other times, it may be associated with drooling while teething. If your baby is not teething and you see such a texture in his stools, do consult your paediatrician.
It is natural to worry about your baby’s health as a new mother. Therefore, it is crucial to know about the different types of poops at various stages of your baby’s life, so that you can get medical help in case of problems.