When to worry about your baby’s poo!

Brace yourself! Your baby will fill their nappies with poo that comes in of an array of different colours, textures, and odours. From a black tar-like stool in the early days (meconium) to mustard yellow seedy stools. Though this variation of output may be shocking it is reasonably normal and the changes often reflect a maturation of their diet and gut. Knowing when to worry about their poo’s will save you hours of analysing and googling baby poo pictures.

Newborn baby’s  will often poo as soon as their rectums fill, or when they start a feed.  This means around eight poos a day is not any cause for concern. Most breastfed babies will start off pooing after every feed. After 3-4 weeks, their bowels will settle into a routine. Bottle fed babies poo less often and have larger motions that are less runny and may even smell of adult consistency.  However, if your child has any of these signs, then please see a doctor:

  • Delayed passage of meconium: Baby’s first poo will be a dark green-black motion called meconium. This should first appear within the first 24 hours of life. If this is delayed followed by a cycle of constipation in the following few weeks please attend your GP, especially if each episode of constipation is preceded by progressive abdominal distension.
  • Diarrhoea: If your child is pooing more frequently and of a loose watery consistency this may suggest an infection, reaction to medicine or a sensitivity to their food. Overflow diarrhoea is not uncommon when a child develops constipation. This is usually seen in the months when the baby is being weaned onto more solid foods.  Please see a doctor if your baby has six episodes of diarrhoea in 24 hours, shows signs of dehydration or the diarrhoea that does not resolve after 24 hours.
  • Constipation: If your baby is taking longer than two days between bowel motions or having painful, prolonged motions they are constipated. This can be caused by dehydration, change of formula, change in diet (usually weaning), medication, anal tear (making it painful to strain). A food intolerance can also cause constipation, but in this situation, even though they have long periods between poos they tend to be loose and mushy instead of hard sausage like poos.
  • Very pale poo: Pale beige coloured stools associated with jaundice may suggest and the underlying problem with your child’s liver. Please see a doctor if this happens
  • Green poo with froth or mucus may suggest a food intolerance, especially if associated with bad nappy rash, eczema or cradle cap.
  • Blood in poo: Blood mixed with stool may be from something as innocent as a small tear in the anal passage to inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. Please arrange to see a doctor, especially if your child has associated fever, weight loss or abdominal discomfort, vomiting.

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