There is so much confusion for new parents about whether or not their infant
is having normal stooling patterns, or if they should be worried. Here
are some of the normals to help you know if you should be concerned or not.
Before the introduction of solid foods:
- Breastfed stools are usually described as looking like runny mustard at
first. They may have small white particles that look like seeds, or the
particles may come and go a bit. Normal stools can be quite watery and
large in volume; they can escape the diaper and make a mess. Diarrhea
in a strictly breastfed child will either have will have a very foul odor,
or will abruptly increase in number of stools a day (for example, a sudden
increase from 6 stools to 15 stools a day). Babies who are breastfed only
are almost never truly constipated, and they often dramatically decrease
the number of stools they produce daily after the first month. They may
only have a stool once a week. If they are feeding well and wetting plenty
of diapers and are mostly content, you do not need to intervene.
- Formula-fed stools can vary in consistency from runny mustard to soft play
dough in consistency; can change colors from yellow to green to brown.
They can be passed anywhere from several times a day to once every 3 days.
- If the baby is having stools firmer than soft play dough, try giving a
once or two of water each day (only for infants older than one month of
age). If he/she is grunting or straining longer than 10 min at a time,
or cries during passage consider giving a glycerin suppository. Keep in
mind this will likely "clean the baby out", so there may be
a prolonged time span before the next stool is passed. Do not feel the
suppository needs to be repeated if the baby is not uncomfortable and
is feeding well and not straining for long periods of time. Continue giving
two ounces of water daily after the suppository.
- The baby should still be feeding well, wetting plenty of diapers each day
(minimum 6), and stools should not have blood in them.
After the introduction of solid foods:
- Baby poop will begin to vary with the colors of foods introduced. They
may be any color except for completely black, bright red, or totally white
with no color at all.
- Baby poop will change in consistency with different foods. There may be
stretches of 2-3 days between stools, and stools vary from runny mustard
to soft play dough.
- If stools are hard/pellet like, the child likely just needs more fiber
in the diet. Consider giving oatmeal cereal instead of rice, pureed prunes,
more vegetables and fruits (other than bananas and applesauce), and increasing
water intake with a sippy cup of water offered with each session of solid
feeding. If the problem continues despite 3 or more days of dietary changes,
call your child's provider.
If there are more than 3 days between stools, your child is grunting/straining
for long periods of time (more than 10 min), and/or the child is crying
during the passage of the stool, you can give a glycerin suppository.
Continue the dietary changes after using the suppository, so that stools
will be softer next time.