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Let’s talk about poo

Let’s talk seriously now about poo. Yes, poo! I am sure if you have had a baby, then you are pretty comfortable discussing the ins and outs of poo. And by ins and outs I mean, the colour, the smell, the consistency, the frequency, yes, all those lovely details. So, here we go…

Newborns

A newborn baby should poo quite frequently during the day. I know some people say that breastfed babies can’t poo frequently and may only poo every few days, however in my experience how often a newborn is pooing is generally a good indication of how much milk they are getting. If your baby is feeding well, then they should poo every time they feed or every couple of feeds. If your baby is breastfed and they are not pooing regularly, but they are happy and settled, then there should be no problem here either. If they are not pooing every day AND they are unhappy and unsettled then perhaps they are could be hungry. It might be a good idea to get some advice about this from your GP or Maternal Health nurse.

Newborn poo is generally yellowish in colour and generally has the consistency of mustard. You may also find that sometimes, or all the time, the poo looks like it has little mustard seeds in it. This is totally normal.

Unusual things to look out for are:

  • Green poo
  • Frothy poo
  • Mucous or blood stained poo
  • Hard, pebbly poo
  • No poo

If your baby is experiencing any of the above then I would get them checked out by your GP or Maternal Health nurse. Generally green or frothy poo can be an indication of a lactose problem. If you are breastfeeding, you can try to rectify this yourself by removing dairy from your diet and see if that helps.

Babies on solids

Once a baby starts eating solid food their poo will change and unfortunately for you as a parent this will often not be for the better! The consistency will get denser and the smell will get worse! Introducing solids can also cause constipation in some babies. Constipation is generally defined when the baby’s poo is hard, rock like or pebbles, and the baby really struggles to get them out. They may even cry. If your baby is experiencing this then it is a good idea to cut back on the solids. Try offering one food at a time.  Pear, I find, is a great ‘first food’. Offering your child lots of water will also help with the pooing process. Try to avoid foods that may contribute to constipation such as banana and cereals. If your baby is still having troubles try offering small amounts of prune juice (diluted with water) to aid digestion.

Older babies/toddlers

If your baby has ongoing issues with constipation, then it is always a good idea to get them checked over by your GP. This will help rule out any underlying issues. When looking at older babies’ poo just remember what they have eaten will affect the colour and consistency, so no need to immediately panic. If they have been playing with playdough and eaten a large amount of the blue playdough expect to see some blue poo that night!

Toddlers can have constipation too so treat it the same way you would for a baby:

  • Offer lots of water
  • Eat lots more fruit including prunes and pears.
  • If toilet trained, encourage them to sit on the toilet a few times a day.
  • Avoid cereals and constipating foods like fast/junk foods.
  • Offer at least 3 fresh vegetables every day

Looking at their poo is the best way to track how they are going given your baby cannot talk to you. So keep a look to ensure you baby’s health is on track!

Article by Wattle Health resident expert, Paediatric Nurse, Jo Ryan.