While changing a baby’s nappy is a sitcom gag classic, it can also be quite useful in offering some tell-tale signs on your child’s health, too.
But what on earth do the different poo colours and consistencies mean? And how often should your child be pooping each day? ?
We caught up with our favourite GP, Dr Philippa Kaye, on this one – who’s given us tips on what the different poo colours mean – and when it might be time to see a doctor.
How often do babies poo?
Before we get on to the business of poo colours, we’ll answer the basic question of how many poos you should expect your baby to do each day.
To be honest, the answer really depends on how old your baby is…
How often do newborns poo?
New babies will most likely poo several times a day, however they are still getting used to feeding, so don’t worry if your baby goes for 1 or 2 days without a bowel movement every now and again.
(On days when your baby does not poo, do make sure that your baby is weeing still. If he is not, contact your GP.)
How often do weaning babies poo?
Once your baby is weaning, you can expect filled nappies to become less frequent, but still, on average, your baby will poo 2 or 3 times a day.
Again, if your baby goes for a day without a bowel movement but is wetting his nappies you shouldn’t have anything to worry about, but do gauge if your baby looks uncomfortable or is showing signs of having a sore tummy, in which case speak to your GP.
How often to 1 to 2 year olds poo?
By the age of 1, your child will probably only do 1 or 2 poo-filled nappies a day and sometimes there might only be a small amount of poo. Don’t be alarmed if those raisins you give him to snack on come through his digestive system intact!
Between 1 and 2 years your toddler will still be in a nappy (though some parents like to try potty-training by about 1 and a half – go with your instinct and do this when your child appears ready). He will probably only be pooing once or twice a day.
If he is not doing this on a regular basis or often goes for several days without a poo, see your GP. There might not be anything to worry about, but constipation can get very serious with small children.
All the while, allowing your baby or toddler to be active (not tied into a pushchair for extended periods of your day) and keeping up good fluids will really help your child have a happy pooing experience!
Baby poo colours
As a new parent, you will be amazed at how interesting your baby’s poo can be ? But what do all those different colours and textures mean, and do any of them signal that you need to go to the doctor?
Black poo (meconium)
Unfortunately, your newborn baby’s first nappy is also one of his scariest. This is because the first stool is a result of all the things he has swallowed that have floated around in the womb with him including amniotic fluid and his own downy hair.
As Dr Philippa explains: “The first poo that your baby will produce is meconium, a very dark greenish, almost black substance like treacle.
“It is really thick and sticky, so sticky in fact it can be difficult to wipe off! It is made up of everything that your baby has ingested in the womb like amniotic fluid and mucous.
“Over the next few days as your baby starts to digest milk, be it breast milk or formula, the poo gradually turns from this treacly dark substance to a lighter, softer stool.”
As your baby settles into a milk-feeding routine he will start to do more regular poos, though these are still quite runny and tend to be yellow or green (mustard) in colour. Even if the colour varies, this is nothing to be concerned about.
Mum munchkin on our forum, comments: “Was just wondering whether any of your baby have done this…my son Cole is a week old today but for the last 2 days every time he farts he follows through, it’s really runny poo, mustard colour.
“He hasn’t had a proper poo for the 2 days either just the follow throughs, (he’s breast fed). Am getting a little worried.”
But, what munchkin is seeing is perfectly normal. “Breast milk poo is really soft, in fact as soft as diarrhoea, almost creamy in consistency and is generally yellow sometimes slightly green, like mustard,” Dr Philippa tells us.
“In fact it also can have flecks like tiny seeds, or like it is curdled even though the baby isn’t eating seeds.”
If you are breastfeeding, you will find the poo is usually lighter in colour and sweeter smelling.
You may also find that what you eat affects the colour or consistency of your baby’s poo, but as long as you are eating well, you don’t need to stop eating strong-tasting foods such as curry or rich meats.
(Any medication you might be taking may also affect it – always mention to a prescribing doctor and pharmacist that you are breastfeeding.)
“As your baby starts onto solids their stools will become thicker, though still soft and can have multiple shades of brown/green depending on what they are eating. It also becomes smellier!” says Dr Philippa.
Flecked poo/poo with bits in
Once your baby starts to eat solids at about 6 months, you will gradually notice a real change.
And sometimes, you might wonder what’s going on, like mum sleepy75 who has this query: “When my 20 month old eats grapes they always come out in her nappy looking very like they went in albeit a bit deflated.
“So I imagine she can digest the juicy bits and not the skin. Is this normal?”
Well, yes it is. “As your baby gets older and starts eating solids you may notice what looks like undigested food in it, often peas, carrots or corn!” Dr Philippa points out.
“This is due to the fast transit of food through the intestines in little ones and is not a cause for concern.”
Green poo often means there’s a change in diet. “it’s probably related to formula or food, but is nothing to worry about,” says Dr Philippa.
This is backed up by one of the mums on our forum, WoWbabies, who reveals: “Austin’s been having green poo for weeks now. I spoke to my health visitor about it and she said it can be caused by many many things i.e.:
- too much food
- not enough food
- tummy upset
- bit of a cold
- change of milk
- digestive system maturing.
“She said as it’s difficult to know what is causing the green poo – they only tend to worry if the baby is not putting on weight. If his weight gain is good then there shouldn’t be a problem.”
Breastfed baby poo vs. formula-fed baby poo
“Formula milk poo is generally thicker than breast fed poo, but is still soft,” says Philippa.
“The colours can range from yellow to green to tan and brown and although it doesn’t smell like an adult stool it has a stronger smell than poo from a baby who is drinking solely breast milk.”
As Dr Philippa’s already mentioned, your baby’s poo will probably be softer if you’re breastfeeding. If they have small, hard poos, this is generally constipation, which is more frequent in formula-fed babies.
“Making sure they are getting enough liquids can help,” says Dr Philippa – and if it doesn’t improve, see your doctor.
When to see a doctor about your baby’s poo
Occasionally, your baby’s poo might be an indication that something’s not quite right and you need to see a doctor. Take a colour at poo colours which mean it’s probably worth getting your baby checked over.
- Black poo
If your baby’s poo is black and it’s not their first poo after coming home (i.e. meconium), you might want to take her to the GP.
Dr Philippa advises: “If the poo is black like coal, again see the doctor if your baby is not taking an iron supplement.
“A black stool can indicate the presence of digested blood in the stool. However, if they are taking extra iron, that can do it too.”
- Very pale or light clay coloured/light grey stool
Mum lilylou1976 on our forum had this issue, and said, “Tonight when I was getting [my daughter] ready for bed I changed her nappy and her poo was a light grey paste like poo???
“Now I’ve looked on the net and advice ranges from nothing to worry about to possible liver complaints???”
This can occur with liver problems, like jaundice, says Dr Philippa – so again, see a doctor.
- Red poo
If there’s bright red blood on the nappy, or mixed in with the tool – you should see your GP, says Dr Philippa.
- Vaccinations and poo:
It’s worth noting that if your baby has recently had a vaccination or you have given him a medicine, this may also affect the texture and colour of his poo, but this change is only passing
(Also check out what other symptoms your baby might have occur after jabs).
Images: Getty Images