Admit it. You’re obsessed with your baby’s poop. First you wonder if baby is pooping enough, then you think baby might be pooping too much, then the color is troubling, next you obsess over the consistency–and even the smell. Once baby is on solids, all bets are off, because she might go days without a bowel movement (which is pretty terrifying for Mom and Dad), and you must figure out how to strike a balance between certain foods in baby’s diet.
For us, it’s a daily puzzle providing the right amount of fiber-rich food alongside constipating culprits like cheese, bananas, and milk (Bubba’s favorites, of course!), but at nearly 19 months, we now know when it’s been too long, what consistency is troublesome, and which colors to actually freak out about.
Because you are all wondering the same thing: Is baby’s bowel movement (or lack there-of) normal?, Kristin and I decided it was high time for a “baby poop guide” — loaded with info from several reputable sources, and totally worth bookmarking.
Poop Frequency for Newborns
Pediatrician, David Geller, reports via Baby Center that a newborn can have as many as eight to ten bowel movements a day, but as long as she is having at least one, she’s probably all right. He assures readers that one day without a bowel movement is usually no cause for concern.
“As long as your baby is feeding well and wetting her diaper five or six times a day, then she’s most likely getting enough to eat. If she starts to become uncomfortable or has a persistently swollen abdomen, then she may need some help with pooping, and you should speak to your pediatrician about how to facilitate this,” says Geller.
Poop Frequency for Infants and Toddlers
Baby Center recognizes that there’s a wide variety of “normal pooping behavior” among babies. The website assures us that some poop after every meal and some only once or twice a week. What’s most important is that your baby’s poop is coming out reasonably soft. (If it’s hard and dry, your baby may be constipated and need some help getting her pooping process back on track.) When we need to get things rolling with Bubba, the process typically requires encouraging him to drink extra water, and munch on a minimal amount of any of the following: raisins, prunes, pears, broccoli, apples, carrots, or greens (spinach or kale). And if a day or two passes, and still nothing? I sprinkle ground flax or chia seeds (sparingly) onto oatmeal or yogurt.
If you have tried all of the above, and there is still nothing happening, call baby’s pediatrician. He or she will most likely administer a stool softener–or ask you to perform the task at home. It sounds awful, but imagine how much better baby will feel after the fact.
What do stool colors indicate? In the beginning, newborns experience a wide range of colors, and depending on whether you are breast or formula feeding baby, the colors can definitely vary. Below are two excellent resources that map out common poop hues and what they mean:
In a WebMD article, The Truth About Baby Poop, author Lisa Zamosky assures new parents that there’s often a large amount of liquid content in babies’ stool, because before six months, doctors recommend that babies get their nutrients exclusively from milk. The feature article quotes Kenneth Wible, MD, describing formula-fed newborn poop as a “jar of mustard mixed it with cottage cheese,” but with breastfed babies, Wible says that there is “a lot more liquid and the milk curds in the stool are a lot finer and smaller.” Yum! ;)
All jokes aside, feces consistency is important in growing babies, and a parent can typically identify when something seems awry. If baby’s diaper contains hard, dry, “pebbles” or “rocks” (especially after baby has been stopped-up for a couple of days) this most likely means baby needs more water and fiber; in our experience with Bubs, this also indicates that there is more poo coming our way! Diarrhea is a huge red flag that baby is not well. WebMD reports that baby diarrhea can be caused by a number of things, ranging from a change in diet to an intestinal infection. Any of the following can cause diarrhea in babies:
- Infection caused by a virus, bacteria, or parasite. Babies can pick up the bacteria and viruses that cause diarrhea through contact with contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces and then placing hands into mouths.
- Food allergy or sensitivity to medicines
- Drinking too much fruit juice
The website recommends frequent hand washing–especially before and after eating, after changing diapers, and after using the bathroom. It also reminds you to keep bathroom and kitchen surfaces clean and maintain safe food handling.
We hope this post serves as a helpful resource that provides insight and relief next time baby’s bowel movements have you scratching your head. Hang in there, Momma!