Baby Stool 101

100-stanExpert: Dr. Stan Spinner, Texas Children’s Pediatrics and Texas Children’s Urgent Care Chief Medical Officer.

Children do not come with how-to handbooks, but from day one, they depend on their parents to understand what they need. With each passing day, parents get better at knowing which cry means what, which food is best and even which diapers to use. But what about your baby’s poop? Is your baby’s stool trying to tell you something your baby needs you to know?

A baby’s poop is actually a great tool for parents when it comes to their baby’s health. The color of newborn stool can be anywhere from light to dark brown, but other colors, including a mustard color early on, is normal. There are some colors that can be a sign your baby should visit the pediatrician. As babies grow, the color of their poop will change. Foods or liquids often affect the color, and older babies tend to have light to dark brown stools.

Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus. Photo by A. Kramer.

Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus. Photo by A. Kramer.

Q: What does red mean?

Tints of red in your baby’s poop can indicate a fresh source of blood. You should have it checked out immediately, especially if it is correlated with irritability or vomiting. These signs could represent an intestinal obstruction. A milk allergy could also cause a baby’s poop to have blood.

Q: What does black mean?

If you see black, that typically is a result of old, dried blood. Dark black stool may represent blood from the upper gastrointestinal tract, and this should also be addressed quickly.

Q: What does white mean?

White in a baby’s poop is a possible indication of an issue with their biliary system and should be reported to your pediatrician.

Although the color of your baby’s poop can mean many things, the most important part is the consistency. A baby’s poop should be soft and not cause the baby any discomfort while they are passing a stool, although many babies will have watery stools and may cry while passing a stool normally.

Who knew a baby’s poop was filled with so much information? If you ever have questions or concerns about your baby’s stool, you can always call your pediatrician for guidance.