Nestlé Infant Nutrition
It’s amazing how much time new mums and dads spend discussing bowel motions– What colour should it be? Is that consistency normal? My baby feeds every 2 hours, surely there should be more coming out?!
Baby’s stools change regularly in colour, consistency and frequency and can depend on how old the baby is, how they are fed (breast or infant formula) and whether they have started on solid foods. Many other factors may also affect baby’s poo, including fluid intake, medications, illness and infections.
However, providing your baby is healthy and happy, changes in baby’s stools should not necessarily be a cause for concern.
Bowel movements for a newborn
Within the first few days after birth, newborns bowel movements are a sticky dark green to black coloured stool, referred to as meconium. Once feeding is introduced, and bacteria begin to colonise the gut, the stools will lighten in colour.
Bowel movements for breast fed babies
Once breastfeeding has commenced, the colour of your babies poo’s will change and can range from a light mustard yellow colour, to green (sometimes with milk curds). Stools are usually loose.
As your babies gut matures, you’ll notice the amount of nappies decreases. Breast fed babies may poo after each feed, and often establish a routine. Frequent wet nappies are a good indicator that your baby is getting enough fluid.
Infrequent stools are not necessarily a sign your baby is constipated. As breast milk is so nutritious, most of the milk is absorbed by the body, leaving little to pass through the digestive system. So don’t worry if your baby’s bowels aren’t as frequent as yours! Continue to monitor your baby’s weight and feeding routine, and consult with a doctor if you have concerns.
Bowel movements for formula fed babies
Stools of a formula fed baby tend to have a stronger odour and range in colour from creamy yellow to dark green. They are often more formed, less watery and a paste-like consistency.
Bowel movements for babies after solids introduction
After starting solids, you’ll also notice the colour, odour, consistency and frequency of babies’ poo changes. Bowel motions can also often take on the colour of recently eaten food.
What’s NOT normal?
The tell-tale signs of diarrhoea are frequent, watery stools which can sometimes be explosive. Watch for frequent wet nappies and consult with your doctor if you have concerns, as newborn babies can dehydrate quickly.
Tips if your baby has diarrhoea:
- If baby is being breastfed, continue breastfeeding. Breast milk contains beneficial bacteria known as probiotics, which may be important in helping support healthy bowel movements. You may want to offer extra breastfeeds.
- If you’re formula feeding, ensure you are sterilising bottles and teats, and washing hands before preparing baby’s food to help destroy any bad bacteria (germs) which may be present and can make baby ill.
- Whether breast or formula feeding, your baby may also require extra hydration between feeds. Talk to your pharmacist or doctor about suitable rehydration solutions.
- If your baby has started solids offer bland foods like bread, rice, potato or plain biscuits. You can then add other foods slowly back into your baby’s diet as they feel better.
If your baby has infrequent bowel movements, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are constipated. Constipation is the passing of hard, pebbly stools which are painful. Constipation tends to be more common in formula fed babies; can occur when transitioning between different formulas; or when introducing solids.
Tips if your baby is constipated:
- Ensure your baby has adequate fluid intake. If baby is being breastfed, continue breastfeeding. Extra breastfeeds may help as it increases babies overall fluid intake.
- If you’re formula feeding, ensure you are making up the formula according to the manufacturer’s recommendations including using the scoop provided in the tin.
- For infants over 6 months of age fresh fruit and vegetables may help with regular bowel movements, as they are a good source of fibre. At this time, your babies digestive system is not yet fully developed to handle certain foods –so be aware of legumes, high fibre cereals and cow’s milk (cow’s milk is not recommended until 12 months of age).
- Visit a healthcare professional if constipation persists, especially if there is blood in the stools; or they are maroon or black in colour.
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