Is my baby’s poo normal?
- There’s a wide range of ‘normal’ when it comes to baby poo
- Blood in the stools, distress and poor weight gain might indicate an issue
- If your child is well and happy, they are most likely fine
There are lots of parts of having a newborn baby that are wonderful – the cuddles, the exciting developmental steps, and of course the cuteness – and then there is the poo. Few parents would enjoy dealing with dirty nappies, yet until toilet training much later down the track, it’s an unfortunate reality.
When you’re dealing with baby poo, it’s understandable you’ll tend to focus on what is happening in your baby’s nappy on a day-to-day basis. But how do you know if what you’re noticing is normal or not? We sought the help of Dr Preeya Alexander as a GP and health expert to find out.
“I talk about poo a lot in the clinic,” says Dr Preeya. ” People get really hung up on it. I’m often asked about the colour and consistency of poo and whether it is normal.”
Sometimes parents even bring in photos of poo and samples in jars to show her – which, she stresses, is really not necessary.“
Here’s the thing – the spectrum of what is normal when it comes to baby poo is huge,” says Dr Preeya. “Some babies will poo once a day, while others will poo four times a day, and both can be normal. Some kids will have brown stools while others will have a green tinge – and again both can be totally normal.”
There are, however, a few ways poo can signal a health problem.
What does abnormal poo look like?
Dr Preeya says that if you notice blood in your baby’s stool you should take them to a doctor.
“And if a child is distressed when passing a bowel motion, and it is particularly firm as well, then it is worth seeking review with a healthcare professional in case constipation is an issue,” she adds.
Constipation in babies is more common than you might realise – in fact, around 15% of babies will experience it occasionally. It can be a dietary issue or it could simply be because their digestive system is still developing – learn more about a baby’s digestive system here. Other signs of constipation include very smelly poo or wind, a hard belly or decreased appetite.
If you’re concerned that your baby might be constipated, you can check their poo consistency against this handy chart.
Keep in mind that just because your baby hasn’t done a poo every day doesn’t mean they are constipated – some babies might have several days between a bowel movement, and that’s not cause for concern.
When should I be worried?
Dr Preeya says a good indicator of how well your baby is coping with food is their weight. If they aren’t gaining weight at a healthy rate, it might be worth seeing a healthcare professional.
“If a child is struggling with weight gain – and this is often picked up by the maternal child health nurses who perform regular weigh-ins – then we also start to ask questions about poo, including whether there is persistent diarrhoea or blood in the stool to elicit if there is an underlying gut issue causing weight-gain issues,” she explains.
Keep in mind that fluctuations in the colour, frequency or consistency of your baby’s poo don’t necessarily mean there’s a problem.
“I say to parents if your child is gaining weight well, there’s no blood in the stools and your kid is pretty happy, it’s all okay,” she says reassuringly.
REMEMBER: This article is not to be substituted for medical advice. If you’re concerned about constipation, or have questions about your baby’s poo, please speak to a healthcare professional such as a pharmacist, GP or maternal child health nurse.
Disclaimer: Dr Preeya Alexander is an independent expert who was compensated for her time.
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