The Scoop on Poop
Everyday parents call my office asking about their child’s poop. They often worry it is too hard, too soft, too much, not enough, or is not the right color. The truth is, poop is rarely just right. I have seen it all. Fresh, wrapped in a diaper, carried in a plastic bag or even frozen in a plastic food container (gross).
While your newborn baby may resemble you, her poop won’t. Baby poop comes in a wide variety of colors, consistencies and frequencies. During the first 24 hours of life, poop is thick, sticky and black. It’s called meconium. After the first few days and over the course of the first few weeks, baby poop lightens from black to brown to green to yellow. The poop will also change in consistency from sticky (baby food prune like) to seedy (spicy mustard like) to even looser (soup like).
As infants grow, their poop patterns generally slow down. Some may poop many times a day, while others poop every few days. The color may range from yellow to brown, with a green one every so often for added color.
With an increase in table food, toddler poop typically looks (and smells) more like adult poop. Babies and children can poop a rainbow of different colors. Almost any color may be normal, except for red, black (okay for first week of life) and white–all of these may be a sign of something that potentially needs evaluation, so let your pediatrician know. Or bring her a poop present to check out.
Rainbow of Poop
Red – May be blood. Check with your pediatrician to make sure it isn’t anything serious. Sometimes a baby or child can have blood due to a small tear on the inside of the anus, often due to hard stool. Your pediatrician may recommend using prunes, fluids and other dietary changes to soften the stools and see if the blood disappears. If it persists, or your child isn’t acting eating and acting normally, call your pediatrician. Red stools that look like blood may not even be blood at all. It could be from an antibiotic, food or drink your child is taking that may bind with iron, causing the stool to look red. Also, some foods and drinks such as beets or red juice can just make the stool look a pretty (or scary) shade of red.
Green – Green stool may be normal. The green color usually means that the stool moved through your child’s intestines faster than normal. This could be normal (like in breastfed babies) as long as your baby is gaining weight and developing fine. Other times it could be from a lot of healthy high fiber foods (such as broccoli and other green veggies) or a touch of a stomach bug (perhaps even with diarrhea). And sometimes the green color (neon green or grass green even) may be from the dye in a food or beverage your child has consumed.
Yellow – Yellow stool is totally normal in breast fed babies. It may even look like mustard was squirted in the diaper. For older children, an occasional shade of yellow is fine. If it persists and is associated with tummy pain or loose stools, let your pediatrician know, as this could be a sign of irritation, inflammation or infection in the intestines.
White – One white, chalky or grey stool is okay and often just due to something unusual your child ate. If the white, chalky or grey stools persist, then let your pediatrician know, as this may be a sign of a serious medical condition, usually a liver problem.
Black – True black poop may be a sign of blood higher up in the intestines that looks very dark by the time it comes out. If your child is having more than a few black poops in a row, let your pediatrician know so they can test the stool to see if it is truly blood. If so, that needs further evaluation. An occasional dark stool, or a black stool that isn’t truly blood is often just darker due to your child’s diet, vitamins or even a bit of constipation.
So that’s the scoop on poop. As always, if your baby or child is not feeding well, is having pain, vomiting or looks really sick, call your pediatrician right away!
This article was originally posted on Sharecare.