Newborn Stool Colour – Is the Baby Health or Sick?

Newborn Stool Colour Is the Baby Health or Sick

Why You Need Know about Newborn’s Stool?

It’s diaper time. And holy crap! It is one of the worst parts of raising kids. Like the job or not, its importance cannot be underemphasized. Not only because it keeps the baby clean and adorable but also because the stool can be an indicator of the degree of a baby’s wellness. The stool morphology of your baby is something you should pay attention to. By stool morphology, we mean shape, amount, consistency, smell, and very importantly the color. Also, the frequency and the change of these aforementioned parameters as feeding, medications are taken.

What Is Baby Stool Made of?

Stool is the solid or semisolid remnants of undigested food. A baby’s stool contains a lot of metabolites. It also contains other chemicals that may or may not have been bacterially altered. These chemicals act as colorants to the baby’s stool. It also gives you an insight into the baby’s health and in some cases are revelations to an ongoing or prospective disease process.

Why Does Baby Stool Change From Time to Time?

The answer is simple: Growth and change in diet.

The first stool after birth starts by passing meconium which dark green. After 2-4 days, the stool transits to yellow-green, then yellow in breast-fed infants and yellowish-brown in formula-fed babies. The consistency morphs as well from loose stool to more well-formed stool.

Every transition shows the baby’s intestine is getting more mature and able to digest more solid food.

What Colors of Stool Is Normal for Your Baby?

Different stool colour stands for different health situation of your baby. Although they cannot talk, but you can learn from baby’s stool.

1. Black or Dark Green Baby Stool

Expect to find dark green or black sticky stool the first few times you change your baby’s nappy. This is called meconium. It’s a product of the liquor the baby swallowed while in the mom’s belly. This liquor is a mixture of amniotic fluid, shed epithelial cells, vellus hair, bile, sebum, and intestinal secretions that the fetus sheds. Unlike normal day-to-day stool, meconium doesn’t really smell bad. And like we said it’s sticky, so you might have a hard time washing it off.

 Ordinarily, the baby poos dark green meconium within 6-12 hours of birth [it may come later in premature babies]. This dark green meconium stays around for the next 2-3 days. After this time, this dark green stool changes to yellow-green and then to yellow stool, gradually. These changes reflect the introduction of breast milk or formula feed to the baby and the clearing of meconium from the baby’s intestine.

2. Yellow-green baby stool:

After 2-4 days after birth, your baby stool will gradually change from dark green to yellow-green. That’s the “transitional stool”. This stool indicates the baby’s intestines have commenced digestive activities on the ingested breast milk or formula feed. It also indicates the partial clearing of the meconium from the intestine. Hence the green in ‘yellow-green’ stool.  

3. Yellow Baby Stool

By the week’s end, most or all of the meconium should have been cleared from the baby intestine. As such if you’re exclusively breastfeeding your baby, the stool would be generally yellow. Furthermore, the baby’s stool could be filled with flecks, mushy, or granular. It could also be yellow with a touch of green, black, or gold. Your week-old breastfed baby could also have a stool that is oily, uniform and contains no foam with a yeasty aroma.

Since breast milk is rich in oligosaccharides, it can set gastrointestinal motility in full swing. As such, the stool of your breastfed infant is slightly formed, semi-solid or liquid. This makes it less formed than its formula-fed counterparts.

4. Yellow Brown Baby Stool

Formula-fed babies and babies who are mixed-fed[ takes breast and formula milk] will make earthy yellow stool by the end of week one. This yellow-brown stool is better formed than that of breastfed infants, hence firmer with a consistency like toothpaste. In addition to firmer, it is also drier and rougher. And also have a little sour aroma or yeasty one

5. Brown Baby Stool

As your baby food transits from liquid to semi-solid and solid ones, the baby’s stool gets darker. And as it gets darker it also gets firmer, increasingly adult-like.

What Colors Are Not Normal For Baby’s Stool?

1. Green Stool After the First Week

Most often than not, it doesn’t mean well if your baby still has green stool after the first week of life. The same thing goes if green stool resurfaces after a baby has moved on to the other stages of still formation. Below we have highlighted some of the common causes

  • Food allergy
  • Baby medications like antibiotics or the mother’s medications
  • Intestinal infection [also known as a stomach bug or stomach flu]
  • Change in the baby’s and/or mother’s diet

There are chances that the green stool is also watery and loosely formed. It means your baby could be losing water and electrolytes. You don’t want that, because not only can it make your baby more irritable, but can also lead to more serious issues. In some cases, you may find mucus in the stool and it may be accompanied by fever, vomiting. Note these changes as they may indicate a bacterial infection.

In very few cases, green stool could be perfectly normal for your baby. And is evidenced by no other worrisome symptoms by the infant. But whether the green stool is normal or not, let the pediatrician be the judge of that.

2. Red or Pink Baby Stool

The baby stool that has bright red streaks is not healthy.  It could as a result of  

  • Fissures or cracks around the baby’s anus
  • Bleeding along the lower part of the baby’s colon
  • Severe reaction to allergies in the baby’s meal
  • Serious cases of stomach bugs.
  • Baby swallowing blood via fissures on the mother’s nipple.

Such a child should be rushed to a pediatrician immediately after this is noticed.

3. White Baby Stool

Also an unhealthy color for baby stool. It may reflect an underlying liver and/or gall bladder pathology. This pathology prevents the proper handling and clearance of bilirubin. It in turn changes the skin and the white of the eye [called the sclera] to yellow, a medical condition termed ‘Jaundice’.

Note: Jaundice is natural in newborns around days two and three to about the 3rd week. So don’t go panicking when you notice your baby’s skin is becoming a bit yellow at first. There is no illness going on.

Besides liver pathology, the baby’s meds and allergy have also been implicated as causes.

4. Thick, Hard Black Stool

 Beyond the first week of life, black-colored stool is not healthy. It indicates bleeding anywhere along the digestive tract, chiefly the stomach or upper intestine. By being black, it means the blood in the stool has been digested and altered by enzymes and bacteria within the intestines of the baby.

This situation may also occur if the child takes iron drugs and iron-fortified formula for the treatment of anemia.

5. Dark Red Baby Stool

Baby stool that is red bean soup might indicate intestinal inflammation, chiefly hemorrhagic enteritis. It is commonplace in premature infants.

6. Light Yellow Baby Stool

Bright yellow baby stool that is bulky, mushy, frequent, contains fat droplets, milk flaps, hard to flush is highly suggestive of fat indigestion. This sort of stool also usually has a very offensive odor.

7. Yellowish-Brown, Watery Stool

This type of stool color and consistency alongside the stool having milk flaps, pungent rotten egg smell characterizes protein indigestion.

8. Mucus-Baby Stool

This is highly suggestive of dysentery.

When You Need to Take Your Baby to A Doctor?

We want to start this section by saying, ‘Call the pediatrician!’

Whenever you start noticing any worrisome baby stool color, call the doctor just to be safe. But apart from calling the doctor, below are few tricks you can employ in mild cases

  • 1. If the baby stool is too hard, give the baby more water to drink. But not too much of it.
  • 2. You could also reduce the solid food content of your baby’s meal if you notice your baby’s stool is still loose. Replace it with liquid ones.
  • 3. If the baby has mild diarrhea, you can rehydrate orally by administering prescribed electrolyte drinks and breastfeeding.
  • 4. You could change the meal if you’re uncomfortable with the baby’s stool color reflecting recent meals.

But if the problems are not fairly simple like those just discussed, call the doctor. Any color not yellow in breastfed infants, yellow-brown in formula-fed infants, and brown in the older babies, call the pediatrician. Other cases that still warrant reaching out to the doctor include:

  • If the baby does not produce any stool after the first 36 hours of life. This might mean the baby has congenital malformations of his/her intestine.
  • When the baby’s urine is yellow but the stool is grayish-white. It may herald permanent liver damage.

Final Thoughts

Baby stool comes in all shades and colors and these colors can indicate something sinister going on in the baby. That said, you must take note, first, of which stool color is age-appropriate for your baby. Secondly of the changes in your baby’s stool. Anytime you notice after any nappy change that the color of the stool is off, make sure you contact your baby’s doctor immediately.

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