Has your baby had bouts with constipation? How did you help him poop?
Moms especially spend a great deal of time stressing about that last one. According to Dr. Melissa King, pediatrician, director of urgent care, and Dr. Mom Squad blogger at Dayton Children's Hospital, it's for good reason. "Constipation can become chronic if it is not addressed," she warns.
First things first: constipation is a common issue for babies, especially at certain developmental times, such as introducing solid foods or transitioning to whole milk from formula or breast milk ... so do not panic. That said, it's important to establish a baby poop "baseline" to spot a problem.
"We typically like to see a daily stool in formula-fed infants," says Dr. King. "If your child hasn't pooped in 2-3 days, you need look at the big picture. Is this typical for your child or atypical? When your child does poop is it typically hard or soft? Is your child uncomfortable, more fussy, or refusing food/bottles?"
Breastfed infants typically poop more than once a day -- sometimes after every feeding -- because breast milk contains immunoglobins, produced by the immune system, which also work as laxatives.
More from The Stir: Baby Poop Colors & What They Mean ;
If you think your baby is constipated (hard stools, a change in pooping frequency, fussiness or not feeding well are all symptoms), here are some tips from Dr. King to help him poop:
Tips To Help A Baby Poop:
1. Make sure baby is getting enough formula or breastmilk daily.
2. If baby has not started solid foods, you can try giving him 2-4 ounces of 100 percent fruit juice a day. If he is over 4 months of age, you can try sorbitol-containing foods, such as pear or apple purees.
3. Grains (other than rice cereal) and other high-fiber foods such as peas and prunes in the appropriate consistency may relieve symptoms for babies who are on solid food.
4. Providing your baby with 6-8 ounces of water every day -- once you have introduced solid foods -- sets up a good habit of water intake, maintains hydration, and helps baby poop.
If your child remains constipated, it's time to call your pediatrician. "Overall, if your baby seems to be not eating well, is more fussy, and has not had a bowel movement for a few days you should consider evaluation," says Dr. King. "Your child should be seen sooner if you are seeing hard rabbit-like pellets, blood, or your child seems to be in pain."
Flushing out facts on baby poop
Parents of infants have been asking me some colorful questions about the color and frequency of their baby’s poops or bowel movements.
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Let me see if I can flush out some information on this topic.
As it turns out, most babies produce poops or bowel movements of many different colors during infancy,e.g, infant green poop and most of these are of little or no concern. For example, breast-fed bowel movements tend to be bright mustardy yellow and seedy in appearance. Formula-fed ones can be pasty in appearance and more brown-to-yellow-tan with hints of green.
So are there some colors we do worry about? There are but they are few in number.
If the bowel movement appears red, that might mean blood is somewhere in their digestive system; although it may be as simple as coming from a breast-feeding mother with cracked nipples causing the baby to swallow some of mom’s blood.
Sometimes as your baby gets older and starts eating red foods like beets, this can also turn bowel movements red—but it’s good to check with the doctor just in case. Other food colors of interest can include blue bowel movements with blueberries and orange ones after eating lots of carrots and squash.
Black can also reflect old blood – unless its baby’s first bowel movements, which have this natural green-black color and are not a problem. Bowel movements may also appear darker green to black if your baby is on supplementary iron.
If a bowel movement appears white or very pale, that might represent some blockage in the liver, which delivers the pigment that normally colors a bowel movement brown.
So, if you do see baby’s poops appearing red, white, or black, it is a good idea to discuss this with your baby’s health care professional, who will likely want to examine your baby and make sure all is okay.
Hopefully tips like this will wipe up any concerns you have and make everything come out fine in the end when it comes to knowing more about the many colors of your baby’s bowel movements.
Lewis First, MD, is chief of Pediatrics at The University of Vermont Children’s Hospital and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the Robert Larner, M.D. College of Medicine at the University of Vermont