Making Sense of Baby's Dirty Diapers
- Tuesday, 09 August 2011
For new parents even changing a diaper can be daunting. Its not the physical act itself that is particularly challenging but rather interpreting the contents. Just how do you know that the color and consistency of what you find in your little one’s nappy is what it is supposed to be? Is that shade of brown healthy or should it be darker, lighter? Is their poop too runny or not runny enough? Who do you even ask about this?
Interpreting your baby’s bowel movements can be tricky to say the least, especially if you are trying to do so through sleep deprivation and inexperience. But it need not be once you are armed with the proper information.
What To Look For
When examining soiled diapers, parents should certainly look for certain markers such as color, consistency, frequency and quantity. Each of these qualities will tell you something about the health of your child. However it should be noted that certain of these markers should be balanced against daily or weekly habits, such as frequency and quantity. Other traits such as color and consistency can be assessed with every diaper change.
First Bowel Movements
The first bowel movements of a baby’s life are the most unusual. These movements are almost black in color and are comprised of a substance called meconium. Meconium has a tar like consistency and is just as sticky seeming. This substance will generally clear from their systems in 1-3 days after birth.
Following these first few days of black bowel movements the body will then begin excreting dark brown-dark green stools. This will last for a few days as the body adjusts itself to the digestion of breast milk or formula.
By approximately 5 days after birth a baby’s bowel movements will have changed color to reach a more yellowy-brown color. The consistency will be fairly liquidy and grainy at the same time. It can sometimes look like it contains mustard seeds.
Breastfed babies often have a more yellow tinge to their bowel movements whereas bottle fed babies have a more brown tinge to them. This color pattern should continue until they start eating solids.
Although newborn babies naturally have more liquid like excrement, it should never be too watery or too slimy. If you baby’s bowel movement has changed to match this description it is likely that they are either sick or fighting something inside their intestinal tract.
If your baby has bowel movements that are especially hard or that resemble pebbles, they are likely experiencing some level of constipation. In order to remedy the situation increased liquids and probiotics should be introduced as soon as possible.
Once solid foods are introduced, a baby’s stools will change color once again and turn somewhat darker. As well their stools will likely harden somewhat in consistency and may even contain bits of undigested food.
If your baby regularly strains to have bowel movements or their stools fall outside of this normal range of colors – especially if you see blood - consult your health care provider to ensure there isn’t an underlying problem.