How To Decode Warning Signs From Your Baby’s Poop Color

what does baby's poop color indicates

what does baby's poop color indicates

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How To Decode Warning Signs From Your Baby’s Poop Color

Just as adults are learning to look at their poop for an insight into how healthy their bodies are, you can also tell how your infant is faring by the color and texture of their poop. For instance, not all black stool is cause for worry, but green frothy stools could indicate lactose intolerance. Find out why white chalky stools or maroon stools may need immediate medical care, and more, when you learn to read the color of a baby’s bowel movements.

Diaper changing has got more than its fair share of bad press with new parents groaning on about the relentless task. And while freshening up your baby and popping on a new diaper is your priority, do keep a watchful eye on the poop itself too. The color and texture of your baby’s bowel movements can tell you a lot about their health and be a warning signal for problems that may need medical attention.

Mustard, Dark Yellow, Or Brown Poop Is Normal

If your baby is breastfed, the poop should be seedy and the color of mustard due to efficient digestion of the breast milk by the baby. If your baby has begun having solids or is also having formula, the stool tends to be darker colored. A dark yellow or brown color is a sign of normal poop for formula-fed babies. Food that remains improperly digested causes the poop to be chunky.1

Black Stool Normal Till 24 Hours After Birth

Seeing a black stool in your baby’s diaper can be frightening. But this is perfectly normal in a newborn. Also known as meconium, this is usually passed in the first 24 hours after birth. However, if such stools continue even after two to three days post birth, you should check with your doctor immediately to rule out any more serious conditions.2 Black stools may sometimes be a sign of a problem somewhere early in the gastrointestinal tract like the start of the small intestine or the stomach.3

Mucus With Black Meconium “Plug”: Risk Of Hirschsprung’s Disease or Cystic Fibrosis

Sometimes, the poop itself is encased in mucus and this meconium plug may be hard to pass. One or more such plugs may be passed after birth. There is concern that passing such plugs might be a sign of increased risk of Hirschsprung’s disease or cystic fibrosis. If that’s the case, your baby’s doctor may run some tests (blood samples and tissue samples) to check for these conditions.4

Green Stool: Chances Of Lactose Intolerance

Frothy and green poop is a sign of lactose intolerance in babies. Besides being green, the stools are usually watery or liquid. The baby also tends to be more irritable. The infant may also pass wind very often.5

The green poop could also be the result of lactose overload that occurs when babies overfeed. Babies may seem to always be hungry, but in reality they’re already having too much milk. Accompanying symptoms are urination over 10 times daily, as well as explosive bowel movements multiple times during a day. This is more common in babies who are younger than 3 months.6

Pale Yellow, White, Or Gray Stools: Liver Problems A Possibility

It is rare for an infant to have white, chalky stool or even gray or pale yellow stool. This may be due to biliary atresia, a condition that needs immediate medical attention. The characteristic white or gray color is a result of blockages or absence of openings in the bile ducts inside/outside the liver. This prevents green bile from coloring stools the normal brown or yellow. Other symptoms include jaundiced appearance – yellowing of the whites of the baby’s eyes as well as the skin. Urine may turn dark as bilirubin that fails to reach the intestine spills into the urine.7

Pale stools, as well as orange or yellow urine, are hallmarks of cholestatic liver disease. According to researchers and experts investigating the role of stool color in managing prolonged jaundice in infants, persistently pale stools and/or yellow or orange urine, as well as prolonged jaundice beyond 2 weeks, are reasons for immediate referral for checks to exclude cholestatic liver disease.8

Red Stool: May Be Due To Foods Like Beetroot But Also Gastrointestinal Bleeding

While certain foods like beetroot can cause stools to turn red or pink, sometimes this can occur due to a problem in the body. Gastrointestinal bleeding can color your baby’s stools red or maroon, depending on where in the tract the problem lies. A bright red stool usually happens when there is bleeding near the rectum or at the end of the gastrointestinal tract, while maroon stools occur when the middle of the tract has a problem.9 Needless to say, you should have this checked out right away.

Mucus/Slimy Or Bloody Stools: Poor Absorption Of Nutrients

Mucus in a baby’s stool could be due to malabsorption of nutrients – undigested starch is known to resemble mucus too. It could also be due to a cold or even a viral or bacterial infection that’s causing excessive mucus production by the body, the excess of which is passing out through the stool. Acute diarrhea can cause blood-streaked stools.10

Cow’s milk allergy can cause stools to have mucus and be slimy and loose and even blood-streaked.11 Allergic colitis from other causes can result in stools that have mucus or blood in them.12

Intussusception or the pressing of bowel walls on each other causing a blockage restricts blood flow to that section. This can cause poop with mucus and blood, severe abdominal pain, a swollen stomach, and a high fever. Between bouts of pain the child may seem pale and floppy. After 12 hours, appetite loss and even vomiting may set in.13

References   [ + ]

1, 2.Stool Color Guide. Johns Hopkins Medicine.
3, 9.What Can Your Child’s Poop Color Tell You? Johns Hopkins Medicine.
4.Meconium Plug. University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust.
5.Lactose intolerance and the breastfed baby. Australian Breastfeeding Association.
6.Lactose overload in babies. Australian Breastfeeding Association.
7.Biliary atresia. NIH.
8.Crofts, D. J., VJ‐M. Michel, A. S. Rigby, M. S. Tanner, D. M. B. Hall, and J. R. Bonham. “Assessment of stool colour in community management of prolonged jaundice in infancy.” Acta Paediatrica 88, no. 9 (1999): 969-974.
10, 11.Diarrhea. Seattle Children’s Hospital.
12.Molnár, Kriszta, Petra Pintér, Hajnalka Győrffy, Áron Cseh, Katalin Eszter Müller, András Arató, and Gábor Veres. “Characteristics of allergic colitis in breast-fed infants in the absence of cow’s milk allergy.” World Journal of Gastroenterology: WJG 19, no. 24 (2013): 3824.
13.Intussusception. Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.

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