What does your child’s poop tell you?
Baby poop is just a fact of life. However, it is also one of the most straightforward ways that your little one’s body communicates to you. If you can learn how to read their poopy diapers, you’ll know how to tell your child’s hydration levels, liver function, and quality of digestion.
Here is how to read your child’s poop:
One of the most important indicators of the health of a child is the color of their poop. You can tell the health of a child’s bowel movement and overall digestive system by observing what color their poop is.
As you observe your child’s poop color, you also have to remember that it is common and expected for the poop color to change over the first year of a baby’s life as his/her diet changes.
- Black or green poop: This is usually the baby’s first poo. It is called meconium and is made up of everything the child consumed in the uterus. It is a sign that everything is working as it should.
- Yellow, custard color: This is the color of a breastfed baby’s poop. It is usually a little runny and will continue to look like this until the baby transitions to other foods.
- Dark yellow color: This is also the normal color of a breastfed or bottle-fed baby’s poop. It may occasionally also be a little grainy.
- Greenish brown: This is also a normal color. However, if the poop is dark greenish-brown and runny, it may be a sign of diarrhea.
- Brown: This is the color of your baby’s poop when you first start weaning them. It may also be lumpy as the baby’s body can’t properly digest all the food yet. If the poop is too lumpy, consider mashing the food to make it easier to digest.
- Frothy green: This could be a sign of diarrhea or a sign that the baby is consuming too much lactose. If your doctor rules out diarrhea, ensure that your baby feeds from each breast fully before switching. This way, they will get both lactose-rich foremilk and nutrient-rich hind-milk with each feeding.
The poop texture will be able to tell you if your child’s bowel movements are healthy, if they are constipated, or if they have diarrhea. Here is how to interpret them for younger babies:
- Looks like molasses: This is meconium or the baby’s first poo. It is usually green or black and completely normal
- Looks like runny mustard or custard: This is the texture of a normal breastfed baby’s poo
- Grainy and dark: This is also a normal breastfed or bottle-fed baby’s poo
- Runny, mushy, and green: May indicate mild diarrhea
- Lumps of food: Normal when you first start weaning the baby. Their digestive system is still developing and they may need the food to be mashed a bit
- Watery and frothy: A sign of diarrhea
Here is how to interpret them for older children:
- Separate hard lumps that look like nuts: These are very hard to pass and a sign of severe constipation
- Log-shaped and lumpy: These are hard to pass and a sign of mild constipation
- Log-shaped with a cracked surface: These are easy to pass and the standard form of poop
- Snake shaped and smooth: These are easy to pass and considered normal
- Soft blobs with clear edges: These are easy to pass and a sign of a diet that lacks fiber
- Mushy pieces with ragged edges: There is an urgency to pass these and they indicate mild diarrhea
- Liquid with little to no solid pieces: There is an urgency to pass these and they are a sign of diarrhea
Time and frequency
A breastfeeding baby will poop after every feeding session until they get to between 3 and 6 weeks. After that, they will start pooping about once a week.
A formula-fed baby should ideally poop at least once a day. Anything less than this might be a sign of constipation.
Once your baby transitions to solid food, they will start having daily bowel movements. However, pooping more than once after each feeding may be a sign of diarrhoea.
When in doubt, please check with your pediatrician
Healthy bowel movement tips
When breastfeeding your baby, drink plenty of water to help soften their stool and make for easier bowel movements. The good news is that breast milk is pretty easy to digest and as long as you maintain a healthy diet, your breastfed baby will rarely be constipated.
Once your baby starts to transition to solids, here are some of the methods you can use to ensure healthy bowel movements:
- Have them drink plenty of water to soften stool and smoothed their bowel movements
- Practice a healthy diet that is rich in fiber and probiotics
- Lead an active lifestyle with lots of games both indoors and outside
Healthy bowel movements are a good sign of a healthy digestive system. When your child eats healthily and leads an active lifestyle, their digestive health will also thrive. When in doubt, be sure to consult your child’s doctor for advice.