If there’s one thing that’s universal when it comes to parenting, it’s the fact that you’re going to be talking about kid’s poop a lot. And while it may not be a typical topic of conversation for the dinner table, it’s essential to talk about it. Younger children may have limited conversational skills so their poop—the color, consistency and amount—can provide important clues into the health of your child.
What should their poop look like?
Most new parents find children poop quite surprising! It has so many shades and consistencies that even experienced parents may not have seen them all. Below is a brief summary of the different poop colors for children:
This dark, tarry poop is called meconium. It consists of amniotic fluid, secretions of the intestinal glands, bile pigments, fatty acids, and intrauterine debris. As intimidating as it looks, this is actually normal for young kids especially newborn. Meconium usually happens to newborn kids on their first bowel movement and lasted averagely 24 hours. If your child produces dark poop after this period, call your pediatrician immediately.
Dark green or green
If your baby has dark green stools, it could be the product of iron supplementation in your child’s diet. In some children, the bacteria in the intestines react to the iron sulfate in a supplement or iron-fortified formula. The reaction turns the child’s poop dark green or sometimes even greenish-black.
Dark green color poop is also common for post-meconium poop. Children a few days old could have dark green poop which is normal and their poop color should return to brown or mustard yellow after a week or so.
Brown, dark brown or mustard yellow
Brown and dark yellow colored stool are common stool color for children. Children that drink formula milk tend to have light brown or orange poop. It may be slightly darker and firmer than stool from breastfed children. If the child is breastfed, their stool color tend to lean towards dark brown.
Orange colored stool might seem a bit like a unicorn: rare and unusual. But in and of itself, orange poop is normal, especially if unaccompanied by any other symptoms. That’s because there is a range of “normal” poop colors that vary from person to person. Poop color depends on the digestive process as well as bile and bacteria. Diet, including food and drink, can also affect poop color, as can vitamins, supplements, and medications.
Most likely, for children who’ve begun eating solid foods, orange colored stool is the result of eating a lot of orange foods like carrots or apricots. At the same time, if orange stool is accompanied by other symptoms, then this may worth checking as it be a sign of digestive troubles.
Dark red or red
Red poop can be a sign of blood in the stool. Red blood found in normal poop could be a sign of a milk protein allergy, while red blood in diarrhea could mean your child has a bacterial infection. Dark red and black poop could be due to dried up blood and parents should seek pediatric consultation if they spot red color poop from their child.
Chalky white or grey
Among all the aforementioned stool color, pale stools suggest that there may be a life-threatening blockage in the liver preventing bile, the green fluid stored in the gallbladder that gives stool the yellow/brown color, from getting out of the liver. If you suspect that your child has white, chalky grey or pale yellow stools, you must contact your child’s pediatrician right away.
If a blockage is suspected, the doctor can perform tests to make a diagnosis. These tests could include blood tests, ultrasound scanning, X-rays or a liver biopsy. While there’s no medication to cure a liver blockage, doctors can perform surgery to get the bile flowing again. This surgery has a good success rate, and the younger the child is when it’s performed, the more successful it’s likely to be.
Consistency is key
The fact is, poop color, consistency, and odor can all change, depending on what your child consumes. And although there is a wide range of normal poop types (any poop that is a variation of yellow, brown, and green, with a soft consistency), there are some BMs that may indicate health problems (bloody, black, or white poop, for example).