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7 Things You Should Know About Your Baby’s Poop

Writing about the topic of baby poop is a sticky subject. It’s probably not the most popular matter in hand to new parents. I mean, there is much more interesting stuff to think about when it comes to our newborn babies, right?

Curiously enough though, parents are indeed very inquisitive, and sometimes concerned about their newborn’s bowel movements. And this daily scrutinizing of the diaper continues on for several months, or even as much as a couple of years, depending on how regular your wee one has a bowel movement, and how early the toilet training catches on.

After all, you are changing your baby’s diaper many times per day - so really, it’s no small wonder that you have an interest in what is inside and whether it is normal or not. Your child’s poop is actually a window to their health and does indeed tell a story all on it’s own.

Color and consistency, frequency, and how poop can relate to illness are all pieces of the puzzle when it comes to poop. Read on for your guide to your infant’s bowel movements, including constipation, your baby’s first poop and more.

7 Meconium

This is really the very first sign that your newborn’s digestive system is up and running in a proper fashion. It’s a tar like substance that is greenish black and is made up of bodily materials like mucus, bile and amniotic fluid.

Normally passed within a few hours to a day or two after birth, it is what you will see in the diaper before your newborn has started on her diet of breast milk or formula.

It’s pretty straightforward, this first poop - but there is a complication that happens in 10% of births, usually to babies born at term or postterm. And that is called meconium aspiration. Basically, it is when the meconium is excreted while the baby is still in the womb. 

Meconium is what's usually referred to as your baby's first bowel movement

When this happens, the meconium mixes with the amniotic fluid and baby accidentally inhales the mixture. It can happen before or during labour and the issue is that your baby’s tiny airways can be blocked, causing breathing difficulties. The exchange of oxygen and carbon monoxide are prevented, thus causing breathing distress.

Some babies can experience immediate distress during delivery, while others may start to show trouble with breathing after a few hours. Infection can cause pneumonia, too. The aspirated meconium may be removed as simply as suctioning the upper airways, but some babies will need a mechanical ventilator to help them breathe for a time.

If your doctor suspects meconium has been excreted before delivery, a procedure called an amnioinfusion can be done, whereby sterile fluid is infused through a tube into the vagina to dilute the meconium.

6 Newborn Poop

The mysteries of your newborn’s diaper are many. You know, just exactly what should be expect to happen in the diaper in the first few days of baby’s life? Well, for starters, once the meconium is all said and done your baby will start bowel movements. Lighter in colour than meconium, and pretty soft and runny at the onset is more or less the expectation. 

Meconium is black, but after a few days the colour will gradually go to dark green, to lighter green. By about week’s end you can expect even lighter stools which will gradually change to brownish yellow.

Important info to be aware of in regards to the colour of baby’s poop: if you see grey, white, pale green or pale yellow let your pediatrician know. Signs of liver problems can be shown if baby’s poop is yellow, for example.

Breastfed baby's poop will be relatively odourless

It’s interesting to note some of the changes that your wee one’s digestive system goes through in the early days. After all, the digestive system is the path to the diaper contents. Here are a few facts:

  • at birth, your child’s stomach is the size of a marble, which explains why your baby asks for frequent feedings
  • the pancreas of a newborn can’t produce all of the enzymes necessary for processing complex carbs and starches until around three months of age
  • why do babies spit up so much? because the lower esophageal sphincter is not strong yet and opens more recurrently, allowing reflux to occur
  • baby’s intestines are not matured with the lining that will eventually be present - that’s why breast milk or formula are what is best for the first four to six months of baby’s life.

5 Breast Poop vs. Bottle Poop

There are definite differences on the stools produced by breast fed and bottle fed babies.

Breast:

  • poop is seedy and can have a pasty texture
  • breast milk contains immunoglobulins, which also can have a laxative effect, producing loose stools which happen often - sometimes at every feed
  • bowel movements smell almost sweet

Formula:

  • poop is more solid
  • the color can range from tan to green
  • definitely more smelly poops are in store with a formula fed baby

Who knew the poop would be so different?

For certain, keep in mind that no two babies elimination schedule will be the same. Every child is different, and what is healthy and perfectly normal for one is not the same for the other. For a fact, a breastfed baby can go a week without a poo and that is no cause for concern. 

Unless of course, your baby does not seem well, is crying a lot, has a distended belly or is vomiting. If you are concerned for any reason, call your pediatrician. No worries, they are used to plenty of questions from concerned parents on the topic of poop.

Formula fed babies tend to be more regular, and tend to have bowel movements on a daily basis. For babies of either feeding method, as long as they are gaining weight and eating well, the number of stools isn’t something you should be stressing about.

4 Constipation or Diarrhea

We’ve got opposite ends of the spectrum here and there are a few things you may want to know that will put your mind at ease and give you a primer for poop. What’s normal and what isn’t:

An exclusively breast fed baby with a constipation problem is a rare thing. And formula fed babies can have a BM three to four times a day before the introduction of solid foods. Constipation can be a definite occurrence in a wee one’s day to day bodily happenings, and here are the signs:

  • if your baby is in her first week of life, she should be pooping at least four to five times a day, no matter whether breast or bottle fed
  • if your little one’s diapers contain hard stools, it could be a clue to constipation challenges
  • if your baby’s tummy is hard and uncomfortable, it could mean constipation
  • a baby who looks as though she is straining to fill her diaper may be having trouble, but it’s a fact that the anal canal of babies are small, thus making filling the diaper a bit of work at times.

On the other side of the fence, we have diarrhea. If your little one is passing a rather smelly mess full of mucous, has a fever and is losing weight, diarrhea may be the culprit. Moms who feed exclusively breast milk may wonder if diarrhea is the case as they are used to seeing loose stools. We can assure you, you will know the difference. Mom’s special know-how, right?

Diarrhea can mean a myriad of things ranging from an error in the formula calculation, to a cold, to gastroenteritis. As with all other concerns, but particularly if you wee one seems listless and has dry lips, or very few wet diapers, take him to the doctor without delay. Diarrhea can cause dehydration and you may need a doctor’s advice to bring your baby back to good health. 

3 Poop Can Indicate Allergies

Take note, poop can be a clue to allergies. If your baby is filling his diaper with BM’s containing mucous and or blood, you need to investigate further because this could be a sign of bowels that are inflamed. There could be an indication of an issue within the GI tract of your little one as a result of allergies.

Some babies can be allergic to milk based formulas. Am extra-hydrolyzed or soy based formula may be the answer. Other babies and infants may have a delayed allergy, which means that the response to the allergen is not instant and therefore can be more difficult to diagnose. Other than the poop related signs of diarrhea or constipation, there can be the following indicators of trouble in the GI tract:

  • eczema on the body
  • dry, red skin on the face
  • acid reflux
  • poor sleep habits
  • wheezing and breathing difficulties
  • asthma
  • crying and colic.

As your child grows up, and solid foods are introduced, there is more to the allergy problem because with the addition of new foods comes the mystery of discovering what the allergies are. Problems with nutrients being extracted from food properly and used by the body as they should be is important to BM health.

If you suspect that your child has an allergy to formula or even seems to be intolerant to your diet as passed in your breast milk, be sure to get it checked out pronto. You, and your baby will be glad you did.

2 Massage Can Help Bowel Movements

A baby with a hard, full, gassy tummy is not a happy camper. Nor are mom and dad, for that matter. An uncomfortable, gassy baby means a crying one, and we know the fatigue and challenges of parenthood don’t need any extra curves balls thrown in.

Not being able to move a bowel movement along through the proper channels and into the diaper can mean a very fussy baby. Remember, our infants intestines are not fully mature and can therefore have a little trouble here and there when it comes to the in’s and out’s of poop.

Massage is the perfect way to help your little one have regular, comfortable poops. Try some of these tips to get things moving along:

  • some parents choose to give their baby a warm bath to relax them before the massage
  • make sure the room where you plan to do the massage is nice and warm
  • removing baby’s clothes, or at least massaging a bare tummy is more effective than manipulating the bowels through clothing
  • make sure your hands are warm
  • some parents remove the diaper, too giving baby complete freedom of movement
  • wait until at least half an hour after a meal before massaging
  • make sure your baby is calm because persistent crying may allow your baby to gulp air adding to the problem you started with
  • massaging with a baby friendly oil can ease the process of poop production
  • massage the tummy below the belly button, moving the hands gently downward with a gliding motion
  • moving your baby’s legs in a cycling motion while he is on his back can be an effective way to get things rolling along and out.

Ask your pediatrician or an experienced friend for instructions on the best method for massaging baby’s tummy. Once your baby is on solids, you may be able to deal with a gassy, blocked tummy by adding fruits such as prunes to your baby’s diet.

1 Diaper Rash

Diaper rash is not fun in anybody’s books - especially your infants. Stinging, burning and chafing are all the result of a sore bottom. Diaper rash can be the result of numerous factors, including the detergent you use on cloth diapers, diarrhea, not changing diapers enough, or a reaction in the GI tract to certain foods.

If your baby cries because of discomfort when getting her diaper changed, it could signal that the skin is tender to the touch. Reasons for an irritated diaper area could be:

  • an introduction of new foods, which can cause more bowel movements
  • a reaction to certain wipes or disposable diapers
  • bacteria and yeast can thrive in warm, moist areas
  • antibiotic use by mom (if baby is breastfed) or baby
  • infants with skin conditions, such as eczema, are more susceptible to diaper rash
  • diapers can sometimes chafe baby’s delicate skin.

Treatment for diaper rash will involve using soaps, creams and clothes detergents that do not contain any fragrance whatsoever. Zinc oxide is a great choice for soothing and protecting baby’s bum; if your infant has a diaper rash that seems beyond normal or is causing your baby great distress, see your pediatrician who may decide to prescribe an antifungal cream or may even refer you to a dermatologist if the rash doesn’t clear up, or tends to recur over and over.

There is no jury out on whether cloth or disposable are better, but be sure to change your baby often, even if it means getting up in the middle of the night, in order to keep urine and poop away from the skin as much as possible. Some parents will leave off their baby’s diaper for maybe ten minutes a day, for example during nap time, to let the bare bottom breathe. 

A daily bath is a good idea, too as long as baby’s bum is thoroughly patted dry before the diaper goes back on.

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