The Scoop on Poop
Motherhood is not for the squeamish.
That must be why prospective mothers must endure 40 weeks of bizarre physical changes culminating in a veritable riot of bodily fluids in the delivery room: Pregnancy is a crash course designed to prepare us for Nature’s most proficient and abundant producer of biological emissions … a baby.
We’re talking about poop here. And just as parents are mesmerized by every aspect of their child’s being, they are likewise fascinated with the contents of Baby’s diapers. Every mother on Earth has at some time or another noted the color, consistency, frequency, or other characteristic of her child’s stools. We can’t help it. We’re oddly compelled to do it. Poop tells us how our children are feeling, if they are eating enough fiber or too much fruit. It indicates illness and frequently explains a child’s temperament on a particular day; so if you’ve ever wondered if your running mental inventory of your child’s bowels is normal, rest assured that it certainly is.
But there are times when a particularly odd diaper change confounds us and we’re too embarrassed to ask what’s going on. Don’t be afraid to ask your mother, pediatrician, or a good friend because chances are that they’ve seen it all before and will help guide you toward the appropriate response. (And if you think asking a single question about the Ol’ Number Two is slightly uncomfortable, try writing an article about it!)
Baby’s First Bowels
New parents are sometimes surprised when their precious bundle produces a thick, gooey, black or green poop in the first few days of life. Pediatrician Dr. Kris Rehm, MD, of Old Harding Pediatric Group in Nashville, Tennessee, says, “They are made up of meconium, the substance in an infant’s intestines while he is in utero. It must be passed before normal digestion and the first regular stool can be passed.”
The term “regular stool” is a bit of an oxymoron since baby poop covers a wide range of colors and frequencies. Most breastfed babies produce a runny yellow-orange stool, often containing what appear to be tiny seeds, while bottle-fed infants have firmer, somewhat darker BMs. Young babies can make up to ten dirty diapers a day, while others have as few as two or three.
Dr. Rehm says, “By two months of age, it’s not uncommon for a breastfed baby to go a few days betweens stools—some [go] only once a week. This is because breast milk leaves very little solid waste behind.” However if a formula, bottle-fed baby goes less than once a day, it may indicate constipation.
When you recover from the shock of the consistency and frequency of your newborn’s movements, you’ll be floored all over again when your darling begins eating her first foods—strained carrots, creamed peas, and pureed blueberries—thus giving you your first experience with pumpkin orange, army green, or neon blue poo-poo. And just when you think you’ve seen it all, your older toddler will produce a violent purple poop after digesting grape Jello, grape Kool-Aid, or anything else injected with large amounts of food coloring.
Solid food means solid waste and most likely firmer, less frequent bowel movements. Since little ones aren’t the most adept chewers, it’s common to see bits of food in a dirty diaper—even entire beans or chunks of fruit. Other household items like pennies, diamond earrings, and Barbie shoes have been known to make their way into dirty diapers too!
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