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What's normal for baby poo?

Posted by Karen Faulkner on
baby poo, what is normal for baby poo, constipation in babies, poop, nappies, baby

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I've had the busiest week! I'm currently in recovery mode after making a mammoth amount of canapes for my significant other's birthday! 
I'm partied out and dare I say it pooped! If I never see another sausage roll or empanada again it may be too soon. I know, a really bad pun and link to today's blog theme of baby poo! LOL ;-)

I feel a blog about baby poo is long overdue. I get asked about poo a lot and it shares a similar amount of angst/concern as baby sleep and baby feeding.

So what is normal for baby poo?

I'm calling it poo, not bowel motions or stools, as these are very formal words, not language that I use with parents.

Baby poo starts off as meconium, a thick green, tar-like substance, so difficult to clean off baby's bum. Meconium persists for 2-3 days after delivery. Then you get a changing stool and two different types of poo, depending on if the baby is breast or formula fed.

Breastfed baby poo

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Breastfed poo is soft, liquid, often explosive with bits of white curds that look like seeds. This is the hind-milk part of breast milk, higher in fat and harder to digest.

It can sometimes look like pureed spinach and again this can be entirely normal. This is because the gut is slightly more acidic and has more good bacteria in it. These bifidobacteria help the baby's immune system.

Formula fed baby poo is often more formed, like plasticine and may be yellow or a greyish green colour and quite whiffy/smelly.

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Different infant formulas produce different types of poo, often the consistency of hummus. It can be green and liquid and entirely normal. S26, Bellamy's and other complete cows milk protein formula sometimes produces a more formed poo.

Sometimes these babies are reported to be constipated by the parents. However, it's just a more formed poo and not actual constipation. They may have their bowels opened every couple of days.

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Babies fed on an HA formula or a formula with probiotics often have a more acidic gut, like the gut of a breastfed baby and have frequent bowel motions and they can be loose and green in colour.

When babies have a Rotavirus immunisation (oral drops are given at 6 weeks and 4 months in OZ) they often have loose watery poos for a few days.

baby poo

True constipation is recognised by round, hard bowel movements (see the pic just below) resembling rabbit droppings.

A baby who has their bowels opened infrequently is not always constipated.

What is normal for baby opening their bowels?

There are lots of types of normal as there are shades and texture of poop! Some babies have a bowel motion every nappy change whereas others may go every few days. Breastfed babies may only go once a week. Breastfed babies can have a sudden change at 3 months and open their bowels once a week or fortnight.

When should you seek medical advice?

Blood and Mucus in poo

    • When there is blood in the poo. This may indicate an infection such as gastro or cows milk protein allergy. It can be just streaks of blood or have the appearance of red currant jelly depending on the severity of the Cows Milk Protein Allergy. Any blood in poo needs immediate investigation by a Doctor/GP.

    • Mucousy stools (as above). This often indicates irritation of the gut. It may be as a result of cows milk protein intolerance, lactose intolerance, teething, excessive production of saliva and even reflux.

    • If the stools are very liquid, the baby has a temperature and is not feeding well.

    • If the baby is constipated and the use of diluted prune juice hasn't helped. Try simmering 5 dried prunes in a saucepan with enough water to cover. Simmer for 10 mins, strain and give 20 ml of the prune juice each day till bowel motions return to normal.

    • If Constipation is a regular feature then it may be cows milk protein allergy (CMPA) and if there is also reflux (GORD) and eczema it warrants further investigation

    • If there is a sudden change in the poo and you think something is just 'not right'. Parents often have an inner sense. Trust that instinct (or your gut!) it is very often right. Gastro usually smells extremely offensive so a really smelly, loose, runny poo may be gastro. The only way to exclude/confirm is to get a sample of poo sent for testing via your local GP or doctor.

So if you're worried, ask your doctor or child and family health nurse. They've seen a lot of poo in their time and will be able to ascertain if there is a problem or not.

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