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Everything You Should Know About Your Baby's Stool

By: Subodini Menon

If you are new parents, it is easy to obsess over every tiny detail when it comes to your baby. But I bet that you did not expect yourself obsessing over your baby's poop. It's true! A baby's motions can cause a great deal of concern to the parents. Parents also worry about the frequency of the motions and also its consistency.

There is probably nothing more gross than the thought of pouring and obsessing over human excretion. But when it comes to our own babies, the worry is justifiable. The poop tells us about what is going on in our baby's body.

why is it important to keep an eye on baby's stool

It is a huge indicator of the baby's health and condition. With each stage of growth, the appearance and frequency of the baby's poop changes. It also changes with the kind of food the baby consumes. Growth milestones can also cause the variations seen in the poop. Likewise, diseases and ill health are also reflected in the excretion.

As good parents, you should always keep a close eye on your baby's dirty diapers. Any variation or changes should be noted and it must be brought into the doctor's notice if deemed necessary. But it is hard to estimate what is normal and what is not when it comes to your baby's poop. This is why we will be discussing about it today.

In today's article, we shall discuss everything that you should know about your baby's poop. We shall talk about the normal excretion pattern during the various stages of your baby's life. We shall also discuss about the abnormal ones. Read on to know more.

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Stool Basics

As parents, you need to know about some of the basic points about your baby's poop. These points will help you understand the tell-tale signs in your baby's poop better.

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What Does The Poop Contain?

The baby's poop contains some cells that are shed from the intestine and bile. It also contains the remnants of the digested food. Other than this, a baby's poop will also contain some bacteria, which naturally inhabit the digestive system. A newborn baby's intestine is sterile but as the baby grows, the bacterial population in the gut grows too.

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What Makes The Poop Have The Colour It Does?

The colour may differ based on the condition of the baby's health. The normal stool's colour is caused by bile which is excreted by the liver. The food eaten by the mother can cause the baby's poop to change colour too. The colour of a breastfed baby's poop differs from a formula-fed baby's poop. The colour keeps changing as the time passes too.

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Consistency Of The Poop

The consistency of the baby's poop also changes. A baby's poop can be soft and mushy like cottage cheese or yoghurt. It can also be as thick and sticky as peanut butter. Breastfed babies tend to have poop that looks seedy and curdy. It can also have the texture of yellow mustard. The poop of formula-fed babies tends to have a thicker pudding like consistency. If your baby has a tough log or pebble-like consistency, it can tell you that the baby is suffering from constipation.

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Frequency Of Poop

Breastfed babies poop more frequently. They may have motions as soon as two hours after feeding. Formula-fed babies have motions only once or twice in a day. As time passes and the baby grows, the bowel movements also become more or less steady and fixed.

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The Smell Of The Poop

The smell of the poop is a major signal of the health conditions of the baby.

The smell of the baby's poop is based upon the time the poop has spent in the intestines. The longer the time the poop stays in contact with the intestinal bacteria, the smellier the poop will be. If the baby is allergic to something in the food, the poop will also be smelly. Babies who are breastfed have less smellier poop when compared to formula-fed babies. As the babies start to ingest solids and proteins, the smell of the poop also gets stronger. If you feel that your baby's poop is unusually odorous or has a different stink to it, then make sure that you let your baby's pediatrician know about it.

Now, let's take a look at the various kinds of baby poop that are normally seen.

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Meconium

Meconium is what the baby excretes for the first time. It is greenish black in colour. It might seem tarry and sticky. It is made up of the things that the baby had ingested in its life in the womb like hair cells, skin cells, mucus and amniotic fluid. This poop doesn't have a smell. Within 2 to 3 days of birth, the poop turns lighter, which signals that the baby has begun to digest the breast milk or formula milk that is being fed. This means that the baby's digestive tract is functioning very smoothly.

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Breast-fed Baby Poop

A baby who is being breastfed will have a light brown to greenish poop. This may have particles in it, which resemble seeds. Though it is smellier than the meconium, the smell isn't bad. The shades of the baby's poop may change based on what the mother eats. If the baby's poop is frothy, it signals that the baby is being fed too much foremilk. As a remedy, the baby needs to be fed longer on the same breast, so that it receives the thicker and nutritious hind milk.

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Formula-fed Babies

Formula-fed babies have poop that resembles peanut butter. Its colour may be any among the various shades of brown. The formula-fed baby's poop will smell more bad when compared to a breast-fed baby.

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Baby Who Is On Iron Medication

If your baby is prescribed iron supplement, expect the baby's poop to be green or black. If the baby is not on iron supplements, and still has black poop, notify the doctor, as this may be the sign of melena or the presence of digested blood in the poop.

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Solid Food Fed Baby Poop

As your baby graduates to solid food, you can notice the difference in the consistency and the smell of the poop. It will get thicker and darker in colour. The smell becomes more similar to that of an adult's poop.

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Partially Digested Food In Your Baby’s Poop

It can be disconcerting to see food particles in your baby's poop. It is normal to see these particles as the baby has not yet learnt to efficiently chew. The digestive system of the baby is still immature. Let your doctor know if you think that you find undigested food in the poop too often.

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Loose Motions

Diarrhoea can be explosive and runny in babies. The colour can be green, brown or even yellow. This can indicate an infection. If your baby has more than 3 loose motions in a day, let your doctor know. If the poop contains mucus or blood, let your doctor know that too.

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Constipation

It is normal that your baby gets constipated once in a while. Constipation shows itself as a pebbly poop. Let your doctor know if the baby has 2 to 3 pebbly motions. Do tell your doctor if the motions are accompanied by blood.

Read more about: parenting baby
Story first published: Tuesday, December 19, 2017, 11:15 [IST]
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