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The Scoop on Baby Poop

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-Bowel movements are part of every baby's normal development and parents are always concerned about what's normal and what's not. I'm Dr. Jennifer Trachtenberg, author of Goods Kids, Bad Habits: The RealAge Guide to Raising Healthy Children. And I'm going to ease parents' fears and concerns about babies. Babies start having bowel movements within the 1st 24 hours and it's called meconium, thick, black waste material that's already in their intestines prior to birth. And then, after the 1st 24 hours, their stool go to more normal color, yellow green consistency. Well, some of you can tell how a lot about a baby from their poop. And so, that's why parents are also concerned in looking into the baby's poop. Certainly, if it's hard, you can see if the baby's constipated or maybe not getting enough fluid or fiber. The stool is gonna help us tell if the baby's having issues with malnutrition or mal-absorption, if there's any type of allergy or infection. So, you can get really a lot of information from baby poop. There is a big difference between stools, between a breastfed baby and a baby that's fed formula. Breastfed babies, typically, have what we call seedy-yellow, mustardy-looking stool. So, it's very soft, the consistency of watery scrambled eggs for breastfed babies. For babies that are fed formula, their stools are usually darker in color, greenish brown. And it can be even a thicker consistency, more like a peanut butter consistency. The amount of times that newborn poops or has bowel movements varies from infant to infant, but, in general, newborn babies that are breastfed, they may even have a bowel movement with each feed. And that's actually from something called a gastrocolic reflex that, as they eat, it makes their intestines move forward and they have a bowel movement. So, breastfed babies, typically, at the beginning, may have a bowel movement with every feed. Formula-fed babies usually have bowel movements or poop less often against- a few times a day, 2 or 3 times a day but, as they get older, it maybe only 1 time a day. Certainly, a baby can get constipated if they're now taking in a formula or breastfed. They're not getting enough fluid in their system. They're not getting enough fiber. A baby can get constipated. And what constipated is, is also not just- not having a bowel movement for a day or 2 because, as breastfed babies get older, they may not even actually pass a stool for up to a week and that's normal. What constipation is, is when the stool comes out and it's hard and it's small and it looks like pellets and it can be painful. So, it's more what it looks like as supposed to the frequency. And sometimes, we do need to get baby laxatives and that can either be orally or, sometimes, it's a suppository, depending on what the baby needs. But first, it's always important to speak with your pediatrician before giving any type of laxative to your baby. It's certainly very important to look out for diarrhea in your baby and that's usually watery, explosive stools that happen frequently throughout the day. And, yes, this is very dangerous because the baby, certainly, can get dehydrated. They're so small they can get dehydrated quickly. So, if your baby's stool patterns change, and it's very frequent and they're not feeding well, it's certainly important to speak with your pediatrician. In summary, it's really important to know that there is a wide range of normal when it comes to baby poop. But if you really do see a significant difference in your baby's bowel habits, it's really important to contact your physician.