The Scoop on Poop

Ever since becoming a pediatric nutritionist and mom, there is no such thing as TMI (too much information), especially when it comes to poop talk. I’ve either seen or heard about it all.


The transition from a milk only diet to foods can cause some big changes inside those tiny bellies. As food is introduced, the good gut bacteria begin to flourish, and babies need to adjust to all that fiber, which is not found in breast milk or formula. This is a time when diapers can change in color, consistency, frequency and smell.


Frequency: This is probably what I get the most questions about. Food does not pass as easily as formula or milk does, so it is common, and normal, for a baby’s bowel habits to go from multiple times a day to once, or even none. Skipping days is not problematic.  A baby can go up to 5 days sans pooping (crazy, right?!) without it being considered constipation. In fact, constipation in babies is not the number of missed days, but rather the quality of the stool. Hard, dry and difficult to pass poops with associated symptoms like gassiness, discomfort and decreased appetite are indicative of constipation. If that is the case, follow some of my tips below for moving things along, or consult your pediatrician.


Consistency:  If your baby was exclusively breastfed, say goodbye to days of those seedy yellow poops. Likely the stool will become more formed – logs, balls and just general pasty mush (sorry, not sparing the details) are all okay. It’s also very normal, and not concerning, to see pieces of what looks like indigestible foods inside the poop, especially the skins of fruits and vegetables or strings of meat. If the stools are dry and hard – think, raisin consistency, and difficult to pass, that is constipation, so follow some of my tips below. And, if you see foamy poops (you’d know it if you saw it) speak to your pediatrician as that may indicate the baby isn’t fully absorbing everything.


Color: Anything in the brown, yellow, green, orange spectrums are fair game. Seeing any red (for blood), mucous, white or gray can indicate an intolerance or digestion problem, so that would justify a call to your pediatrician.


Tips for Managing Constipation the Natural Way:


Before even adjusting the diet, a good belly massage and bicycling of the legs can do the trick. Ideally, have the baby sitting or standing upright, if able, while doing the exercises.


Next, try these few tricks for moving things along:

  • Give extra water. Start with two to four ounces of water throughout the day
  • Take a break from the iron fortified cereals and any white starches like white rice and white bread
  • Offer sorbitol containing fruits like prunes and pears (sorbitol acts as a natural laxative)
  • Mix in some seeds. Start with half a teaspoon ground flaxseed or chia seeds into purees and yogurts
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