Parents from all over the world have one thing in common: poop. Most of the new parents keep on wondering about the frequency of a newborn baby’s poop, if any assistance can be provided to the baby in this regard and whether a green baby poop indicates something ominous. It certainly sounds like a rather detestable topic for the lunch, it is an extremely important one that needs to be discussed again and again. Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, a pediatrician and executive director of digital health for Seattle Children’s Hospital, believes that the color, frequency and quantity of a baby’s poop can give important indicators regarding the health state of the infant. Her blog can be viewed at Seattle Mama Doc.
Moreover, since the baby’s poop habits keep on changing, so it remains a topic of constant discussion. Let’s now get on with the topic and share with you all the details beginning from the first diaper change to the potty training stage.
The First Poop
In contrast to some of the other important events in your baby’s life, you probably won’t be capturing photographs of your baby’s first poop. But keep in mind, this is one of the most events in your baby’s life. The baby’s first poop, also called as meconium, is generally a dark greenish black in color and a sticky solid that consists of everything taken in by the baby in the utero including the amniotic fluid, skin cells and water. However, as the time goes on, the baby’s poop should get more watery and lighter in color. If the poop remains darker in color or the frequency is low, then it means that the baby is not getting the requisite nutrition and the physician needs to be contacted soon.
The experts believe that during the first four to six weeks of life, irrespective of the fact whether the baby is breastfed of bottle fed, the baby should poop after each feed. In addition, the color and form of the poop is likely to vary depending on the fact whether the baby is breastfed, bottle fed or both. A baby who is breastfed, generally has a poop that is yellow in texture, kind of seedy and watery while a formula fed baby has a poop that is darker in color and thicker in appearance.
As the infant’s digestive track develops after the initial six weeks, poop habits also change with the passage of time. The frequency of the poop depends on a number of factors. Generally, a baby may poop one to three times a day but it is also quite common for the breastfed babies to not poop as regularly as formula fed ones.
Poop frequency for a breastfed baby
If your breastfed baby is not pooping, it should not be a cause for concern. The digestion process of breast milk varies from the formula milk. So, a breastfed baby tends to pee rather frequently and you should expect to see six to eight wet diapers daily. At the same time, there is also a probability that you may not be seeing any poop for several days. Swanson notices that a breastfed baby may not poop for two or three days and it can extend even up to a week. She believes that if your breastfed baby is not pooping, it becomes imperative for the parents to keep an eye at their behavior in contrast to their diapers. A breastfed baby who is not pooping but seems to be content with a soft belly, should not be a cause for concern. However, a rigid belly with an unsatisfied child could be a symptom of constipation.
Poop frequency of a formula-fed baby
The poop of a formula fed baby is darker in texture and thicker as well. The color can range from yellow to greenish brown or even tan. Such babies tend to poop once a day and if they do not poop for a day or two, then it could be cue to constipation. Experts believe that the frequency of a formula fed baby’s poop is also critical. Moreover, if the poop is in the shape of pellets or logs, it could signal constipation and it is important that the pediatrician is contact as soon as possible since constipation could be a symptom of an allergy or an indication to change the brand of the formula milk.
Baby poop color
A baby’s poop color can give important insight into a baby’s health. Keep in mind, what goes in must come out as well and that is particularly true for babies who are starting to eat table food. However, physicians believe that the parents should keep a close eye at the baby’s poop color. In case, something unusual is seen, the pediatrician should be contacted promptly along with a sample of the poop.
Let’s have a look at the indications that can be had from baby poops of different colors.
- Green: Formula fed babies are likely to produce a poop that is darkish green in texture which is generally caused by the iron in formula milk. Green poop can also be an indication of the baby teething or that the baby is recovering from a stomach infection. The experts are of the view that if a baby has green poop and seems to be fussy at feeding time or appears to be gassy, it could mean that he or she is allergic from cow’s milk and is reacting to the formula milk. This means that you should contact your pediatrician to explore other options. In case of a breastfed baby, however, green poop could mean that he is getting excessive foremilk and not sufficient quantity of fattier hindmilk. This can be resolved by keeping the baby on the same breast for a session of feeding or hand expressing a little amount of milk before letting the baby latch.
- White: A white, chalky or gray baby poop, for both breastfed and formula fed babies, is alarming as it could be a sign that the liver is not functioning appropriately. Consult the pediatrician without wasting any time.
- Orange: Solid diets such as carrots and sweet potatoes can result in orange colored baby poop. If the mother has been on medication or been consuming synthetically colored foods, a breastfed baby is likely to have an orange colored poop. Poop of this color should not be worrisome but you can always consult your pediatrician to allay all the fears.
- Red: Red flecks in poop, in case of a breastfed baby, are not a cause for concern since it could be that the baby ingested specks of blood from the mother’s cracked nipples. It could also be due to constipation and if your baby is beginning to eat table foot, you will have to look out for the food that is causing the issues. An infection, allergy, GI injury or other medical issues could be inferred from a poop that is bright red in color or seems bloody.
- Black: A newborn baby producing poop that is black in color is an indication of the fact that the infant is not getting the required nutrition or having trouble with digestion. Diet full of iron leads to poop of black color and if the infant is not being fed with sufficient quantity of iron and the poop still has a black texture, it could be a symptom of GI tract bleeding. Madhavi Kapoor, MD, clinical assistant professor in the department of pediatrics at NYU Langone Medical Center, observes that blood changes its color from red to black as it makes its way through the infant’s intestines.
- Yellow: This is a typical color of the baby’s poop for both breastfed and formula-fed infants. Bright yellow color could be an indication that the baby is on medication or a result of the diet consumed by the mother.
- Gray: Experts believe that the gray color of the poop could be due to the food ingested by the babies in solid form. If baby is yet to start eating solid diet, then it is important to consult the physician since the gray poop could be a symptom of a liver of gallbladder problem.
Helping the baby poop
Before becoming a parent, everybody loathes a dirty baby diaper. But poop can serve as a relief for the baby as well as parents who are anxious that their baby is not pooping. Dehydration, consumption of starchy foods such as banana, routine changes due to travelling or allergy or intolerance could be some of the reasons your baby is not pooping. Toddlers who are in the middle of potty training may not poop owing to psychological reasons such as being scared of the potty or being stressed about a new caregiver whom they are acquainted with or changes in daily schedule.
Fortunately, there are numerous solutions that can be applied at home and have the backing of pediatricians with regard to their effectiveness. However, experts believe that they should be employed occasionally since over-dependence on a ploy to make the baby poop could get transformed into a bad habit which could be an issue in the long run.
Let’s have a look at some of the cool ideas that will help your baby poop and will also give you a fair idea of what to do when your toddler is not pooping.
- Bicycle legs: Experts are of the view that peddling a baby’s legs back and forth as if he or she were riding a bicycle could easily stimulate the infant’s digestive system. Toddlers probably do not require this sort of stimulation since their normal movements such as crawling and climbing naturally help keep things in motion.
- Warm bath: Warm water can produce the necessary stimulation to help the baby poop.
- Rectal stimulation: This trick should be employed occasionally only according to experts who suggest that rectal stimulation using a rectal thermometer or a gas-relieving product such as Fridababy’ Windi that can be bought for $15 from fridababy.com. However, it should be ensured that the baby should not become over-reliant on this trick.
- Water or juice: Dehydration can lead to constipation. If the baby has been consuming table food, it is suggested that he or she may be offered water or pear juice to assist in digestion. Constipation could also indicate that the baby needs to be nursed more or offered a bottle of milk more frequently. In case, you are still not satisfied, consult your pediatrician.
- Glycerin suppositories: Experts opine that glycerin suppositories, after seeking requisite guidance from your pediatrician, could be a ploy that can be employed once in a while.
- Prunes, Plums, Peaches and Pears: These four fruits can be added to a baby’s diet if he or she has started consuming table food.
- Veggies: Vegetables can be a great tool to help your baby get rid of constipation due to their high-fiber content.
- Whole grains: Addition of whole grains such as brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, multigrain cereals or bread to a baby’s diet can help soften the stool and assist the baby in pooping.