Ask The Experts: Baby poop

My son has transitioned to solid foods, and his bowel movements are never consistent. Is there a “normal” when it comes to baby poop, and what points to a possible issue?

A: Parents love asking me about baby poop. It’s either too much, not enough, too hard, too soft or not the “right” color. They email me poop photos and bring me poop presents at the office. The truth is that babies poop a wide variety of consistencies, frequencies and colors.

As long as baby is happy, drinking well, eating healthy food, growing and developing on track, it’s usually all within normal range. That said, there are some signs that warrant further attention.

Too hard (pebble poop) is often a sign that your baby needs more fluids, so check with your pediatrician to ensure he is getting enough breast milk or formula (and that you are correctly mixing the formula).

Too soft (slushy poop) may mean that your baby has a touch of a virus, had too many high fiber foods or is just a little sensitive to something he ate or drank (or you ate or drank). As long as he’s eating and drinking normally and his tummy isn’t tender or bloated, there isn’t anything to worry about.

Too colorful (rainbow poop) depends on what you see. Babies can poop a wide variety of colors, and most versions of yellow, green or brown are all within normal range. Call your pediatrician if you see red or black (could be blood) or white or grey (could be a liver issue) in the stool.

Too much (all day long poop) applies if your baby is pooping more than 6-8 times a day (after the first month of life). This may be a sign of an infection (often a virus) that could lead to dehydration. Call your pediatrician.

Not enough (skipping days of poop) may mean he’s constipated. If you notice poor sleep, fussy behavior or pushing and straining really hard to go, adding a little extra water, prune juice or baby food prunes to his diet may help.

Normal poop for one baby may not be normal for another. The bottom line is that as long as your baby is happy, feeding well, growing and developing on track, it’s usually OK.

-TANYA ALTMAN, MD, FAAP, practicing pediatrician who founded Calabasas Pediatrics in Los Angeles and author of Baby and Toddler Basics: Expert Answers to Parents’ Top 150 Questions (American Academy of Pediatrics, February 2018)

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