Some moms spend a lot of time inspecting the layers of their offspring! Often, they worry because their baby's stool does not have the right color or consistency, or because their child too often soils his diaper or, conversely, not enough.
But in this area, we must not forget that what is normal for your baby depends on:
- the way you feed him: breast or bottle,
- the presence or absence of solid foods in your child's diet
The appearance of your child's stool will change throughout his first year and may even change from one day to the next. Do not worry, you will soon be able to spot what is normal and what is not.
How often is my baby supposed to have a bowel movement?
There are no fixed rules. In the first months of your baby's life, it all depends on whether you are breastfeeding or feeding your baby.
Babies who are breastfed and do not consume solid foods can soil their diapers four times a day or more, once every three days only!
Bottle-fed babies often need to bow every day to be comfortable and not constipated.
Many babies twitch and cry slightly when they have a bowel movement, but that does not mean that there is a problem. As long as the stool of your baby is soft and easily evacuated, there is no need to worry.
What should my baby's stool look like?
The first stools produced by your baby a few days after birth are meconium. They consist of mucus, amniotic fluid and everything your child has ingested while in your womb.
Meconium is a sticky black green material that looks a bit like tar. Its appearance is not pleasant, but its presence is a sign that your child's intestines are working properly.
What will my baby's stool look like if I'm breastfeeding?
Colostrum, the first milk you produce, acts as a laxative to help your baby evacuate meconium from the intestines. Once breastmilk production itself starts, your baby's stool changes. You will notice then:
- that they are lighter and change from a greenish-brown color to a kind of mustard yellow, and that their odor is less unpleasant,
- that their texture is flaccid and sometimes granular or curd.
During their first weeks of life, some babies get dirty during or after each feeding. On average, babies have a bowel movement four times a day during their first week of life. This number will gradually decrease, and your child's digestive system will eventually find its rhythm. Some babies so dirty their diapers at fairly similar times every day.
Other breastfed babies do a bowel movement a few times a week or even just once.
This is not a problem until your child's stool is hard and easily evacuated. .
Your baby's pace may change if:
- your child is sick,
- feedings decrease.
What do stools look like in a baby bottle-fed baby?
If you bottle-feed your baby, the stools may be different from those of a breast-fed baby, including:
- of a thicker consistency than those of the stools of a breast-fed baby. This is because powdered milk does not have the same components as breast milk,
- pale yellow or brown yellow,
- almost as fragrant as an adult's stool.
Bottle-fed babies are more likely to be constipated than babies who are breastfed. Consult your doctor or pediatrician if you are worried about your child.
Will my baby's stool be different if I switch from breast milk to powdered milk?
If you switch from breast milk to powdered milk, try to do it gradually and ideally in progressive stages.
This will allow your baby's digestive system to adapt and limit the risk of constipation for your child, as well as painful, swollen breasts and waterlogging for you.
Once your baby has adapted to milk powder, its stool and frequency may change completely.
What will my baby's stool look like when he starts eating solid foods?
When your baby is going to start eating solid foods, his stools will change dramatically depending on what he is going to consume. So, if your child is eating carrot puree, the contents of his diaper will be clearly orange.
You will certainly notice that foods rich in fiber such as grapes or cooked white beans are not digested by your baby but that they arrive directly in his diaper. It should change when your child gets older. It will then be able to better digest the fibers.
As your baby's diet becomes more diverse, his stools become thicker, darker, and much more fragrant.
What do "abnormal" stools look like?
Your baby may have diarrhea if:
- his stools are very liquid without grain,
- his stool is more frequent or more abundant than usual,
- his stools are thrown out or spring out uncontrollably.
If you breastfeed, your baby is less likely to have diarrhea. Indeed, breast milk protects the digestive system.
Bottle-fed babies are more susceptible to infection, so it is important to wash the equipment carefully and always wash your hands before preparing the bottle.
If your baby has diarrhea, it may be due to:
- an infection such as gastroenteritis,
- excessive consumption of fruit or fruit juice,
- a reaction to a drug,
- intolerance or allergy to a food.
Your baby may also react strongly to milk powder if you bottle-feed him. Do not hesitate to consult your pediatrician or doctor before changing the brand of milk powder, it may not be the cause of digestive disorders of your baby.
If your baby is teething, his stool may be softer than usual, but it should not cause diarrhea. This phase does not last long but can lead to erythema of the buttocks.
In older babies, diarrhea can also be a sign of severe constipation. It happens that liquid stools run while hard stools remain blocked.
The diarrhea must disappear without treatment after 24 hours. If this is not the case, consult your doctor or pediatrician as your child may become dehydrated.
If your baby has had at least six episodes of diarrhea during the past 24 hours, consult your doctor urgently.
Babies often become red and grow strong when they do their stool. It's normal.
Conversely, you may suspect a case of constipation when:
- your baby really seems to have trouble evacuating his stool,
- your child's stools are small and dry and look like rabbit poop or when they are hard and bulky,
- your baby gets angry easily, squirms and cries when he poops,
- your baby's belly is hard to the touch,
- your baby's stool contains blood. This may be due to small skin tears called anal fissures that occur when your child's stool is too hard and too big.
Breastfed babies often suffer less constipation than formula-fed babies. Indeed, nutrients in breast milk favor soft stools.
Excess milk powder in the bottle can also cause constipation. Follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully when preparing a bottle. Pour the recommended amount of water first before adding the milk powder.
Constipation may also be due to:
- a change in the consumption of liquids,
- a change of diet,
- taking certain medications
Older babies may become constipated to avoid pain. It can be the case if a small tear makes them suffer at the level of the anus (anal fissure). Your child then refrains from pooping to avoid pain. He is more and more constipated and the pain is even stronger when he finally evacuates his stool: it is a vicious circle.
Bring your baby as soon as possible to your doctor or pediatrician if he is constipated and especially if you detect traces of blood in his stool. Your health professional will find the origin of these disorders ..
You will probably be advised to increase fluid intake for your child but also fiber if he is already consuming solid foods. The prune or apricot compote can be an easy way to achieve this. It is also recommended to consume a water rich in magnesium.
Green stools can be a sign that your baby is getting too much lactose (the natural sugar in milk). This can happen if you feed your child often but do not get enough breastfeeding milk. This milk is indeed richer and can satisfy your baby. Make sure your baby sucks each breast to the end before moving on to the other.
If symptoms persist beyond 24 hours, consult your doctor or pediatrician. Green stools may be due to:
- the brand of milk powder that you use to prepare your baby's baby bottles. Some powdered milks give the stool a dark green appearance.
- a food sensitivity,
- side effects from taking a medication,
- eating habits that are specific to your baby,
- an intestinal virus.
Very pale stools
This may be a sign of jaundice, a symptom that often affects newborns and disappears two weeks after birth. It is recommended to consult a doctor or pediatrician if symptoms persist.
Ask your pediatrician or doctor to test your baby if you think it is not jaundice.
Traces of blood
You may notice traces of blood in your baby's stool if he is constipated. Pushing hard can cause small tears in the skin around the anus (anal fissures) that bleed when your baby poops.
If you notice any traces of blood in your baby's stool, check with your doctor or pediatrician.
The tip of our pediatrician : "When you really have a doubt about your baby's stool, bring your pediatrician a recent layer of stool from your baby, and wrap it well in different plastic bags."