What is Your Baby’s Poop Telling You?
If there’s one thing every parent deals with, it’s poop. From your everyday diaper changes to the dreaded bath time blowouts, poop is just part of the job. If you are like most parents, you have probably spent a considerable amount of time inspecting your baby’s poop. Questions like, “Does this look normal to you?” or “How can they possibly poop this much?” are common.
We are here to answer your poop questions and answer the biggest question of all – “What is your baby’s poop telling you?”
Healthy guts start with food
For the first four to six months, your baby will be consuming exclusively breast milk or formula. Once you transition your baby to more solid food, you will start to notice more formed stool.
Fruits that start with “p” make you poop – peaches, pears and prunes are the “Stage 1” baby foods you should always keep on hand. If your baby is struggling with poop, try one ounce of pear or prune juice to get the poop flowing. Once your baby is eating from a spoon, it is always better to eat the actual fruit rather than drinking juice.
If fruits that start with “p” aid in digestion, foods that are white can make your baby’s poop too hard. Foods in this category include cheese, bananas, white rice, white pasta, white sugar and white bread/buns. Milk is another culprit, and no child should have plain cow’s milk before turning one.
If the frequency of your baby’s poop seems normal, but the consistency could use a little softening, try whole grains like brown rice, brown pasta and brown bread. If you start rice cereal and your baby seams to struggle more with poop, then change to an oatmeal cereal and add peaches, pears or prunes daily.
It is always important to hydrate. Infants under six months should never consumer water. After six months, adding a small amount of water daily can help with hydration and digestion.
Consistency is key
Poop that is soft means that your baby is happy and healthy. But sometimes you may be concerned that your baby’s poop is too soft or watery. If your baby is under six months, increase their fluid intake by feeding more breast milk or formula. After six months, it is OK to incorporate water as mentioned above.
If your baby’s poop is too hard, this could signal constipation. Constipation in babies means that the poop is too hard to pass normally; it is not related to the frequency of bowel movements. Sometimes a breast-fed baby can continue to have soft, normal stool but only pass the stool once a week.
Gravity helps digestion
Gravity is your best friend when it comes to getting babies to poop. Holding babies not only boosts their happy hormones, but it allows gravity to go to work to help with their digestion. Many of the muscles that allow food to pass through the gut are like purse strings. They need to open to let the food in and then close to prevent things from going the wrong way, either by spitting up or not pooping. These are very complicated muscles and nerves that need time to develop; therefore, they do not always work smoothly in young babies. After all, your baby’s gut is immature just like the rest of their body. By holding your baby upright, you can keep everything going in the right direction and prevent crying, excessive spitting, buildup of gas and constipation.
If your baby is not pooping as frequently as in the past and they are becoming fussy, be sure to give frequent feeds and hold your baby upright for 30 minutes after each feed. You can also bicycle their legs and massage their bellies after holding them upright to get everything moving.
When to call us
Trust your parental instincts. If you feel that something is wrong our team of pediatricians are here to examine your baby and go over any concerns. While most changes in your baby are nothing to worry about, here are a few instances where you need to contact your child’s pediatrician:
- If your baby decreases how much they are eating or drinking
- If your baby has a fever greater than 100.5 in a baby less than three months old
- If your baby has decreased the amount of wet diapers, especially if they have less than three in 24 hours.
- If your baby’s vomit is “tennis ball” green, or has blood
- If your baby’s poop contains blood
Still have questions? Talk to one of our pediatricians.