Should I be worried about the colour or consistency of my baby’s poo?Parents are often concerned when the colour or consistency of their baby’s stool changes. In some instances this can be an indication that your baby is unwell but other times it may just be due to a new phase in your baby’s life, like the introduction of solids. So having some idea of what is normal and what isn’t may help parents distinguish between illness and natural stools.
Normal types of baby poo
Baby poo when they’re formula feeding
Baby poo when they’re on solid food
The colour of baby poo: what’s normal & what’s not?
What does it mean if my baby has yellow, orange (the colour of butternut) or brown poo?
- This is the normal colour for stools as described under breast and bottle feeding.
What does it mean if my baby has green poo?
- Parents get very distressed by green poo.
- It may be related to an iron supplement.
- Green vegetables given from 4 to 6 months of age may also cause this colour change.
- Food rich in fibre may cause the stool to pass through the digestive tract quicker than normal and, as a result, may have a greenish colour.
What does it mean if my baby has black poo?
- If stool is black or has black specks in it then this is often as a result of digested blood.
- Breastfed babies may have black flecks in their stool if mommy has cracked nipples which may have blead while baby was feeding.
- It can also be an indication of something a little more worrying so it is best to have this assessed.
- Older children may also get a black stool from eating things like liquorish so keep that in mind.
What does it mean if my baby has red poo?
- A child may pass a red stool if they have eaten foods like beetroot or berries. It does give parents a big fright because they think their child is bleeding so keep diet in mind whenever the stool colour changes.
- Flecks of red blood may be as a result of a little tear in the anus especially if the child is constipated. This is known as an anal fissure and can be treated with a specific ointment.
- Red blood in a stool may also indicate that the baby has a milk protein allergy and requires medical intervention.
- A baby with red blood in the stool with diarrhoea may indicate a bacterial infection. In this case medical advice is necessary.
What does it mean if my baby has white or clay-coloured poo:
- This colour stool may be a sign that your child is not producing adequate bile. Bile is a digestive enzyme produced by the liver. Bile gives normal stool its brownish colour. White stool may indicate that the little tube which takes the bile from the liver into the intestine is blocked and should be evaluated as a medical emergency.
- Certain medications may also cause a white stool.
Baby poo: what is NOT normal & when should you worry?
- The stool may be brown or green but is very liquid and frequent.
- This may be caused by illness or allergies. One needs to be very cautious that the baby does not dehydrate so medical attention is always advisable.
Hard or pebble-like stool
- Babies may become constipated when solids are being introduced, formula is changed or when the diet lacks fibre.
- Constipation leads to excessive gassiness, sore tummies and stools may be painful to pass.
- There are dietary interventions that need to be made but in the acute phase a baby may need medication. It is always best to discuss these issues with your healthcare provider.
Mucus in the stool
- Babies who are drooling excessively or have a cold may be swallowing the mucus and this finds its way into the stool.
- The stool may be a bit slimy and green in colour. It may also appear to have strings in it.
- Certain infections may result in mucus in the stool. If you are uncertain of the cause it is definitely something that should be attended to by your healthcare professional.
- Stool never smells great but if your baby’s stool suddenly has a very strong smell, this may indicate an infection. Again it is something that needs to be assessed.
- We have discussed the colour of stool above. It is really important that medical care is sought urgently for white stool.
- If you cannot attribute the black or red colour to something your baby has eaten then medical attention is necessary.