Suddenly when you become a mother poop takes on a whole new meaning and you find yourself inspecting your baby’s poop, talking about your baby’s poop, and researching baby poop to make sure what you find in the diaper is normal. I never would have imagined when I was younger that one day I would be inspecting the contents of my child’s diaper let alone researching and writing an article on baby poo.
The reason for this weird obsession we moms get over our baby’s poop is that we can learn a lot about what is going on with our babies based on what is going on in their diapers. Often the first sign of illness or a problem can be found in the diaper. It can also provides good reassurance that everything is fine, your baby is healthy, and getting plenty of nutrition.
When you first come home with your new little one it is hard to know what is normal and what is not. The nurses in the hospital and the teacher of your prenatal class (if you took one) will try to explain to you what you can expect in your child’s diaper. You can also ask your pediatrician in the early visits. But when it comes right down to it you will still likely worry if what you see is normal or not. Over the first weeks of your baby’s life you will get to know what is normal for your child and be able to recognize when something is wrong.
So what is normal in the early weeks and months? The contents of your baby’s diaper will change over the first few days of your child’s life and again a few months later and then again when you introduce solids. What you find in your baby’s diaper will vary depending on if you are breastfeeding or bottle-feeding.
Meconium: This is the black, sticky, almost tar like bowel movements your child takes in his first few days after birth. Your child swallowed a lot of amniotic fluid while in utero, the result is meconium. It can be difficult to wipe off your baby’s bottom due to its sticky consistency but don’t worry in a couple of days you’ll be on to the next kind of poop.
Breastfed Babies: Once your child has passed all the meconium and feeding has been well established you will begin to find bright yellow or mustard colored grainy poop that is loose in consistency. In the early weeks your child will likely take a bowel movement at every feeding, or almost every feeding. Once she gets a little bigger and you are on more of a schedule you will find that she takes less bowel movements. Most babies will take 3-4 bowel movements each day, often on a bit of a schedule. This routine will continuously change as your baby gets older and her body is better able to absorb more of what she takes in. Some breastfed babies eventually can go several days without taking a bowel movement. It is important to get to know what is normal for your baby so you can recognize when something is amiss.
Bottle-fed Babies: The color and consistency of the poop passed by a bottle-fed baby is different than that of a breastfed baby. You will find your baby’s bowel movements are pale yellow or a yellowish brown color and are more solid and formed. This is a result of the formula not be as well absorbed in the digestive system as breast milk. Also, you will find that bottle fed babies produce a pretty pungent smelling poop. Bottle-fed babies often need to pass at least one bowel movement every day so that their systems don’t get backed up. Again, it is important to get to know your baby’s routine so that you can recognize when something isn’t right.
Once you introduce solids things in the diaper will change again. Your baby’s poop will be more solid as they are taking in less fluids than before and will be greatly affected by what they eat. Peas will produce green poop. You will also find the smell changes. This may be particularly troubling for a mom used to the sweeter smell of a breastfed baby’s poop.
So what isn’t normal and a sign that it’s time to give the pediatrician a call?
Diarrhea: It can be hard to recognize diarrhea since a baby’s poop is fairly loose to begin with. You will notice a change in the consistency with the stool becoming more runny. There is often a change in the color as well. Breastfed babies are less likely to suffer from diarrhea than bottle-fed babies as breast milk helps fight off bacteria. If your baby has diarrhea call your pediatrician to find out what they recommend and if you need to bring the baby in to get checked out.
Constipation: If your baby is constipated you will find she has trouble passing her stool, it is harder and pellet like in consistency, and is often accompanied by a tight tummy, abdominal pain and fussiness. Again, breastfed babies are less likely than bottle-fed babies to suffer from constipation. If you think your baby is constipated take her in to see the pediatrician.
Green Poop: If your baby had green, frothy poop it is likely caused by too much lactose. This can happen when your baby feeds often but not long enough on one breast to get the rich hind milk. There is more lactose in the fore milk. It is important to let your baby finish on the first breast before offering her the other breast. The green poop can also be a sign of a stomach bug. If it persists longer than 24 hours you should head into the pediatrician to have your baby checked out.
Bloody Stool: If your baby is constipated you may find blood in her stool, which is caused by too much straining. It can also be a sign of many other illnesses and problems. If you ever find blood in your baby’s stool call your pediatrician. Your baby will need to be checked out to find out what is causing the bloody stool.
Over time you will become familiar with what is normal for your baby. You will recognize what a normal bowel movement looks like, the normal frequency of her bowel movements, and when something appears to be amiss. If you have questions or concerns about your baby’s bowel movements be sure to consult your pediatrician. Don’t worry we all obsess over the contents of our baby’s diaper, it is part of being a good, conscientious parent.