Baby's Stool Changes

Dr. Alan Greene answers the question, My breastfed baby has diarrhea. Should I be worried?


My daughter is 3 weeks old and nursing. For the last week she's had diarrhea. Should I be worried?


A baby's stools go through many changes during the first eight weeks or so. First are the days of slow, sticky, meconium stools, but by the end of the first week, stooling speeds up and breastfed kids have a stool every time they eat -- or even more often. They average eight to 10 soft, yellow, seedy stools.

Over the next three weeks, in breastfed kids, this number usually starts to drop. By 4 weeks of age, the average is about four soft stools a day, though there is quite a lot of variability in this. At 8 weeks, the number drops to an average of only one a day and some breastfed babies have only one every several days -- up to once every seven days or so can be normal.

If your baby is suffering from diarrhea, our biggest concern is dehydration. We want to be sure that kids are getting in plenty of fluid to replace what is lost, and then some. If you were to notice yourself becoming engorged, or if you notice that your baby is not making at least one wet diaper every eight hours or is suffering from a fever, dry mouth, or dry mucous membranes, you want her to be seen right away. Otherwise, this type of stooling could come from developmental changes in the intestines or from a mild virus. It could also be a reaction to a food in your diet (the most common of these is to milk). Let your pediatrician know about the stools in a phone call or at your baby's one-month checkup.


The information on this Web site is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your or your child's condition.

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