A little bit after his first birthday, my son ate a mashed blueberry and decided it was the greatest thing that ever happened to him. Thoroughly charmed by how cute that was, I bought a giant thing of blueberries and let him happily eat mashed blueberries at every meal until they were gone. We were having a great time until he had a giant, black poop, and I freaked out. In hindsight, I now know this was one of those times my baby's poop told me everything I needed to know: go easy on the blueberries already. At the time, though, I totally forgot that he'd been eating blueberries, so I immediately started texting my pediatrician and scheduled an appointment. We headed in, dirty diaper in tow, only for her to take one look and say, "Oh, I see he likes blueberries?"
Great, I thought. I bagged and hauled sh*t all the way across town for nothing.
As with a lot of parenting things, when your baby's diapers are way out of the ordinary, follow your gut, and double-check any alarming things you see with your pediatrician. (Yes, do this even if it means having to bag and drive around with a dirty diaper. Who needs dignity, anyway? Not moms or pediatricians, apparently.) Chances are, if they're still feeling and acting pretty normal, have a normal temperature and all that, everything is OK. (Especially if they just really like dark-colored fruits.)
And please, please, please: unless you belong to a mom group that is explicitly about baby poop, don't post baby poop pictures on social media (or at least, post your question sans photo, then link to a photo of it in the comments or something). As someone who has gagged on her lunch while using her other hand to scroll through Facebook way more times than I can count, I'd really appreciate it.
When You Couldn't Tell If Your Older Baby Actually Swallowed Any Of Their Solid Food
When babies first start eating solids, so much of their food seems to end up on or around them (and all over the floor) that it can be hard to tell if any actually made it inside them.
Hard to tell until you start getting those thick, stanky solid poopy diapers, that is. If that's coming out, something serious must have gone in. *Spills a 40-oz in remembrance of comparatively pleasant breast milk-only poops.*
When You Start Feeling A Little Too Smug About Your Parenting Prowess
Feeling pretty well put-together with your baby? Are you strutting around in your fashionable baby sling, brushing your shoulders off and wondering to yourself why other people say this parenting thing is so hard? Cue giant poopsplosion that ruins all outfits in a ten-foot radius, and makes the stroller unusable for two straight days. That message is clear: don't go getting too proud. Big old parenting reality checks come for all of us, at some point.
When You're Worried They Haven’t Eaten Enough In General
As moms, we're basically wired to worry about whether our kids are eating enough. (Hell, I'm in my thirties and my mom still worries I'm not eating enough if I lose a little weight between visits, or randomly stop posting pictures of my food on social media.) Anytime I start wondering if my little guy is getting enough to eat, I always get reassurance in the form of a giant poopy diaper.
When You Worry About The Amount Of Their Poop
#ProTip: try not to tempt the parenting gods by questioning the amount that your baby poops. They will almost always "reassure" you that your baby is eating and digesting well with the biggest, steamiest, crappiest diaper a baby can possibly muster. Usually in public, or right before you have to go somewhere important, when you really don't have time to change all of their clothes and clean out their car seat.
When Your Baby Is On An Iron Supplement, But You Can't Remember If It Was Given To Them
Iron often leaves a trace, in the form of super dark green or even black poos. Thanks for the confirmation, diaper gods.
When You Wonder If They're Drinking Enough Fluids
For a few days after his first birthday, my son decided he was too cool for his sippy cup or something, and basically stopped drinking water during solid meals. I wasn't sure if this was a problem or not since he was still nursing, until I started seeing diapers that looked like they were left by a deer or somebody else pooping little pellets (or larger, really firm poops). We quickly switched him to a water bottle that he'd willingly drink out of, to make sure he drank his water at meal time.
When You Suspect They're A Little Sick, Or Something They Ate Didn't Quite Agree With Them
You know those moments when your baby just seems a little off? Or when they seem a little unhappy or fussy after their last meal? If that next diaper smells way worse than normal, consider your suspicions confirmed (and try not to give them that same food again, at least for a little while. Sometimes babies can't handle something when they first try it, but can handle that food better when they're a bit older).
When You Start Wondering If The People Saying You're "Too Strict" With The Baby's Diet Were Right
Even though I chose baby-led weaning (which Americans really should call baby-led solids, but whatever) with my son, I was very circumspect about the timing of introducing new foods, and very strict about what he was allowed to eat. Several months into our solids journey, we were traveling, and folks were encouraging me to let him try "just a little bit!" of their not-totally-whole-and-organic-and-unprocessed foods. "It won't kill him!" they reassured me. ('Cause that's always the selling point a mom needs to hear.)
Sure, it didn't kill him. But his next poopy diaper — which smelled like a load of burning tires — damn near killed me. Nope, nope-ity, nope, nope, nope. We were both strictly Paleo for the next three weeks.
When They Seem A Little Backed Up
Sometimes, a baby is taking a little longer than normal to poop, or is grunting or something else a little out of the ordinary for them. If the next diaper is really firm (and/or contains way more, um, content than is typical), it's probably because they were a little constipated.
When You’re Unsure If Your Breastfed Baby Is Getting Enough Hindmilk
This worry occurs to pretty much every nursing mom once she discovers there is such a thing as foremilk and hindmilk, and hears the term "foremilk/hindmilk imbalance." If an exclusively breastfed baby has lots of yellow (or greenish yellow) poops, often flecked with what look like seeds or curds), then fear not, mama — keep calm and nurse on.
If they're kinda frothy and light greenish, though, baby might not be getting enough hindmilk because of an oversupply or because they're not being allowed to nurse long enough before switching breasts. (Tip: if you were making them switch breasts after a certain amount of time, start letting the baby decide (unlatch) when they're done with one breast and then switch sides, and/or start each nursing session on the breast they finished with the last time, so they have a chance to get all the fatty milk that usually comes at the end of a nursing session.)