This might sound rather strange, but poop, stools or bowel movements are one of the most significant windows into our inner health! It is of little wonder then that poop during infancy is of much importance.
Mothers can tell that their baby is doing well by just looking at the poop – color, consistency, frequency etc. Yea sounds disgusting, doesn’t it? But hey! It’s all part and parcel of being a mommy!
The fetus does not poop in the womb. The fetus will urinate but will wait to pass the first bowel movements soon after birth. Sometimes there is an incidence of meconium being passed during labor and this is actually the fetus passing stools. Since this is not normal, it is treated as a warning sign and hence the doctor will monitor the birth more closely and at times even opt for a surgical birth.
On the first day of his/her life the baby will pass their first official poop! It will be black, sticky and will resemble a tar like substance. It is called meconium. It is made of amniotic fluid, mucus, hair and all the other things that the fetus may have taken in during its days in the womb!
Over the next few days as you feed your baby, especially feed your baby the colostrum, the stool color will change from black to greenish. We can call this transition stools! Feeding the colostrum is of great importance as it has a highly laxative effect and helps the baby clear all the meconium.
As your milk matures, between day five to seven, you will see the poop change color yet again. From green it is now yellow. It is also fairly watery and it will have a granular consistency. The baby may pass stools after every feed which could even be ten times a day and this is not considered as diarrhea. A baby who is exclusively on breast milk might not pass stools for a few days at a stretch! But as long as the baby appears comfortable and is feeding well, there is no cause for concern.
The number of times your baby has a bowel movement in 24 hours will slow down between 3 to 5 weeks and your baby will now pass bowels only a couple of times a day. This shows that the bowels are gaining control and slowly maturing.
If you find that your baby has passed bright green and frothy poop then it is possible that the baby is taking more feeds of fore milk and this can lead to a weight gain concern. Make sure that you help the baby empty your breasts and also get the hind milk, which will help the baby gain weight adequately.
For babies who are formula fed, you can expect the stools to be deep brown in color and they will also be more formed and pasty. Formula fed babies excrete smelly poop.
If you are giving any supplements to the baby it is normal to see the stools change color – for example: Iron supplements will cause stools to appear blackish. This can also be observed once you start giving your baby solids. So if you have given your baby beetroot on a particular day, expect the stools to be red in color.
As you start solids, you will notice the consistency and color of the stools change. Babies on solid diets will have more formed and smellier stools. However it is important that the stools are still easy to pass. If your baby is straining too much or passes very hard stools and if the stools are pellet like, then your baby is constipated and this should be reported to the doctor.
It is normal to see small bits of food in the stools. It is undigested food and it is fairly normal. Babies are not chewing yet and at times the food passes through the digestive tract so fast that it remains almost whole.
At any time if there is blood in the stools then do report it to the doctor as it could be an allergy, an infection or constipation that has caused an anal tear!