When new moms get together, their conversation inevitably turns to poop — how often their baby is going, the colour and the consistency. In fact, a baby’s bowel movements is one of the top inquiries heard by Dr. Bob Issenman, chief of pediatric gastroenterology at McMaster Children’s Hospital in Hamilton, Ont. So what is normal?
During the first few days of life, a newborn will pass a dark-green or black sticky substance called meconium. Once feeding is established, the baby’s bowel movements become more frequent. Breastfed newborns may pass up to five seedy, loose yellow-green bowel movements a day. Formula-fed infants will go less often, and it will appear pale brown or pasty and more firm.
At this age, babies should be stooling at least once every few days. Some may go more often. The colour and consistency of the poop can change with the introduction of formula or a change in a breastfeeding mother’s diet.
Babies eating solids will produce darker stools that may have bits of undigested food. As foods are added to the diet, you may notice a stronger odour and different colours.
Passing only one stool every few days does not necessarily mean constipation. But if your child has not stooled in more than three days or if the stool is pellet-like, contains blood or seems to cause pain, you should consult your doctor.
Defined by frequent runny stools, diarrhea is common in babies and is generally mild and brief. It can be accompanied by fever, loss of appetite and blood or mucus in the stool. Dehydration caused by diarrhea and vomiting can be dangerous, so continue to formula-feed or breastfeed. Contact your doctor if your baby has diarrhea and is less than six months old, has diarrhea and a fever of 38.5Â°C (101.5Â°F); or appears dehydrated (dry diapers, sunken eyes).