What Your Baby's Poop Tells You About Their Health

Date: Tuesday, Nov 20,2019

Can probiotics and prebiotics improve your child's gut health? Standfirst: Parents should boost their child's gut health as soon as they start on solids

As they grow, children's nutritional needs cannot be met by milk alone and, therefore, they need solid food too, for their healthy development.

The importance of good gut health through probiotics and prebiotics has been discussed a lot more in recent years, as more research makes the link between our gut and our overall well-being. We’ve learned that the gut is important for a healthy immune system, determines what allergies you will have, and even affects your brain health.

The gut helps with digestion and waste removal. It's also where we absorb the nutrients that we consume; keeping your child’s gut healthy ensures that they are getting the most out of the food that they're consuming.

Why is gut health important?

Children with an unhealthy gut won't be able to digest food well (thus being more prone to stomach aches or constipation) and will have a weak immune system, which means they'll be ill more often.

More than 70 per cent of our immune system is located in our gut, and good gut health also regulates the immune system in terms of allergies and intolerances.1 Our gut also produces brain chemicals – neurotransmitters – and a healthy gut produces more of these good chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine.2

An unhealthy gut reduces the production of these chemicals; low levels can lead to depression, anxiety and behavioural issues. A poorly-functioning gut may also lead to mood fluctuations, sleep issues and feelings of tiredness.3

Can we boost our children's gut health?

Your baby's poop says a lot more about them than you think. Their health, for starters – some issues can be discovered by analysing what you find in their nappy.

Baby poop varies, changing according to their age or their diet. For starters, breastfed baby poop and formula-fed baby poop look different. The poop can also tell parents if something isn’t right. Parents should always monitor their baby's poop and pay attention to any changes in things like baby poop colour and baby poop frequency.

Here's a guide as to what is normal and when you should see your baby's doctor.

Colour

In their first few years, a baby’s poop will look nothing like an adult’s. Immediately after birth, a newborn's poop looks greenish-black and tar-like. This is called ‘meconium’: the end result of shedding mucus, amniotic fluid, skin cells and other things ingested in utero. See a pediatrician if this stage lasts more than a few days.1

Baby poop should then transition to a green or yellow colour. Breastfed baby poop is usually more yellowish, while formula-fed baby poop looks more greenish. Also, if your baby is on formula, their poop will be more consistent over time, but breastfed babies' poop are more likely to change in colour, depending on what food mum has been eating.2

Once your baby is introduced to solids, their poop will turn more green. This is because most solid foods that babies eat are pureed forms of green veggies such as peas, spinach or beans. Your baby's poop will also be green if they are given iron supplements or is drinking formula that's fortified with iron.3

And if your baby has been given dark-red foods such as beetroot or has been drinking tomato juice, their poop might be red. This shouldn't last long and baby's poop should turn to its regular colour the next time he fills his nappy.

If it's still red over the long term, check with your doctor: red stools might be a sign of an intestinal infection or milk allergies.

If your baby's stool is white or grey, this isn't normal; give your paediatrician a call. It could mean that the baby may have a liver issue and isn't able to digest food properly.4

As your baby gets older, their poop will turn more brown and resemble grown-up poop.

Frequency

There is no set frequency for how often babies poop. Some poop after every meal; others might only do so every few days. How often your baby poops depends on a lot of factors, such as whether they are breastfed or formula-fed, whether they are onto solids already and, of course, their age too. But once they’re on solids, your baby will have a more consistent (usually daily) bowel movement.

Choosing a formula milk with A2 β-casein will make your baby less prone to diarrhoea and a fussy tummy.5 This ingredient helps to support your baby's gastrointestinal well-being as it reduces gastrointestinal discomfort and flatulence.6

Texture

Baby poop generally has a pasty texture, but breastfed baby poop is more runny, although still considered pasty. Sometimes, not all food will be digested properly so it's normal to notice chunks of food in your baby's poop from time to time.

If your baby's poop is watery – whether yellow, green or brown – and if they have a bowel movement more than once after a feed, this could be a case of diarrhoea and you should take your baby to the doctor. Don't let your baby have diarrhoea for too long without getting any treatment as they may suffer from dehydration.

And if your baby's stool is hard and resembles pebbles, or if they’re straining every time they have a bowel movement, this could mean that your baby has constipation. This is a common reaction when they're introduced to solid foods, but it could also be a result of food sensitivity so see a doctor if it happens often. One solution: feed your baby formula that’s rich in Sn-2 palmitate, which has been found to lead to softer stool in babies.7

You should also see a doctor if there's mucus in your baby's poop as this could be a sign of a bacterial infection.

Illuma Stage 3 Growing-Up Formula Milk Powder is suitable for children from one year and above. This advanced growing-up formula contains a unique combination of sn-2 palmitate and A2 β-casein, offering a range of nutritional and gastrointestinal benefits for your little one.

For more tips, Contact Us to chat with our friendly Club Illume consultants.

References

  • 1. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/diapers-clothing/Pages/Babys-First-Bowel-Movements.aspx
  • 2. https://www.unitypoint.org/blankchildrens/article.aspx?id=40567710-74c7-4ef2-a040-847be9fbd35a
  • 3. http://www.nancymohrbacher.com/articles/2014/5/21/green-poop-when-should-you-worry.html
  • 4. https://www.hellomotherhood.com/article/549552-gray-stool-in-babies/
  • 5. https://nutritionj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12937-016-0147-z
  • 6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4818854/
  • 7. http://www.melaniemcgrice.com.au/sn-2-palmitate-why-you-should-know-about-this-important-compound/

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