Parenting a new born is a tricky business; they have different sleeping habits, eating habits and have different ways to communicate their feelings. So is the case with their excretory material. It changes over time; initially it is greenish (with almost a fluid – like consistency, primarily made up of amniotic fluid and mucus), also known as meconium; however, as the baby grow and undergo developmental and dietary changes, the color, consistency and appearance of poop becomes more adult like. The normal and age-appropriate characteristic of the poop of the baby is dependent on several factors such as the age of baby, the dietary habits and whether the baby has started solids or not. As a mother, you must want to know when your breastfed baby’s poop is normal and when you should worry.
What’s Breastfed Babies’ Poop Like?
A babies’ diet directly affects the content of the poop. When a child is being breastfed, their feces becomes soft and lighter in color. Babies may pass the stool after every feed (or four times a day on average), they may even pass a stool twice or thrice per week, but it should not be a problem as long as the feces is soft and the color is consistent. In the very beginning, the babies pass a greenish-black and tar-like stool, this is due to the presence of colostrum in milk.
As the breast feed turns more milky, the consistency of stools becomes more firm and changes its color to greenish-yellow. The frequency with which the stool is passed also decreases. In some cases when the baby is passing very frequent water stools, the chances are fair that the gut of baby is irritated due to potential food allergies. In all such instances, carefully evaluate your diet and avoid dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt) from your diet for a period of at least 3 weeks.
Will Breastfed Babies’ Poop Change If I Switch from Breast to Bottle?
When the baby is to be shifted from breast feeding to bottle feeding, the transition should be more gradual or smooth (over a period of several weeks). This allows for the baby’s digestive system to adapt properly and thus prevent abrupt changes in the digestive and excretory system. In addition, it is also much healthy for you as it minimizes the risk of developing mastitis (painful, red or inflamed breast). In case of abrupt switching, the baby is more likely to develop constipation and digestion issues.
Here is a video that may highlight more effectively the difference between breastfed babies' poop and formula-fed baby’s poop:
What Are Some Common Problems Reported in Breastfed Babies’ Poop?
Below are some of the most frequently reported problems that are often experienced by babies that are being breastfed:
1. Not Pooping for Days
If the babies are not pooping regularly or as frequently as they always do, it is not always something to worry about. This is because the breast feed of babies is so enriched with nutrition that there is hardly any waste.
What the parents should look for is a change in mood, sleeping habits, eating habits and any physical changes in the baby. Sometimes the baby will have a stiff stomach, shows signs of discomfort when passing stool which all indicate a bowel movement problem. In such case doctor should be consulted immediately.
2. Diarrhea or Watery Poop
The parents should notice if the baby has very runny stool, this would indicate diarrhea. In such case the baby will pass feces more frequently. It will be very leaky and will spurt out suddenly.
There are several reasons why a baby may have diarrhea. Gastro-intestinal infection, excessive liquid diet, allergy to certain food and medication reaction is the most common causes of diarrhea. If this condition persists over a day immediate medical care should be sought, since the chances of dehydration increase.
If the baby has difficulty in passing feces or his face turns bright red it could be an indication of constipation. When a child has constipation they usually display signs such as irritation or crying while passing feces. Sometimes a little blood is also observable because of skin rupture.
Breastfed babies are not often constipated because of colostrum in breast milk, which acts as a mild laxative, but babies who are being fed from a bottle may suffer from constipation, because of excessive solid or less water. Also sometimes the child may be dehydrated for a long time resulting in hard stools. Fever and medication may also cause constipation.
4. Green Poop
Green colored poop can indicate too much lactose intake, lactose is a part of breast milk, and hence over-feeding is indicated here.
If the baby is getting proper feed and still has green colored poop, it can indicate a medication reaction, food allergy or a stomach bug. If the color of poop does not change after 24 hours, a pediatrician should be visited.
5. Blood Stained Poop
Blood stained poo is indicative of constipation, this happens when the skin around the babies anus ruptures (anal fissure) due to excessive pressure being applied to pass out the feces. However, such a stool should be checked out by the doctor to rule out any other disease.
6. Very Yellow or Pale Poop
Pale or yellow poo is common in babies that are having active jaundice. Other signs of jaundice in new born babies include yellowish tint of skin, yellowing of sclera (visible portion of eye) and more frequent pooping. Physiological pooping is seen in new born babies and resolves spontaneously within a few days without treatment; however, if your baby is having issues even after 2 weeks, speak to a pediatrician or mid-wife.