One of the less enjoyable aspects of parenthood is being forced to deal with someone else's bodily fluids. It's one of those things that makes you long for the days of holding your friend's hair back after she took too many shots of tequila at the bar. But aside from being a bit gross, the contents of your baby's diaper can signify a bigger issue. This can be especially alarming for first-time parents who don't know what's considered normal when it comes to your little one's stool. Lucky for you there are plenty of baby poop red flags that you can (and should) keep an eye out for.
OK maybe lucky isn't the best word, as you have to loot through a dirty diaper. But it's important to have guidelines. The first time my son had baby food, I wasn't prepared for the fact that his poop would look drastically different than when he was only having formula. But whether you're new to the diaper-changing scene or you've been around the block a few times, it's still a good idea to familiarize yourself with what constitutes a warning sign when it comes to your baby's bowel movements. So, to put your mind at ease and get informed, check out these baby poop red flags.
1There's Too Little
If you haven't established what is normal for your child yet, it can be difficult to tell what's too little or too much. But, according to La Leche League International (LLLI), if your baby has infrequent stooling, this could be a sign of dehydration. If you suspect that your little one isn't consuming enough, immediately call your doctor since dehydration is quite serious in infants.
2There's Too Much
On the flip side, if you've noticed that you're going through diapers at an alarming rate, this is also a red flag. As pediatrician Dr. Tanya Remer Altmann told Parenting, if there is a sudden increase in pooping and the stool is thinner or more watery than usual, this could be a sign of an infection. Again, trust your gut. If you think something's not right, seek medical assistance.
You wouldn't think that poop could come in such a variety of colors, but it does. And although most odd hues aren't really a problem, a few are. According to What To Expect, you should call your pediatrician if, "his stool is white, which could indicate he’s not properly absorbing nutrients." Thankfully most any nutritional problem can be fixed when it's caught early.
Obviously if you see any red in your infant's stool, that's not a good thing. According to the medical review board at the Baby Center, red poop could indicate hemorrhoids, a milk allergy, or even an infection. Even if it's only slightly tinged with red, you should still call the doctor.
Though you were probably told when your baby was first born that tar-like stool is to be expected, it should be considered a red flag after that time period. As mentioned in the aforementioned Baby Center article, black poop is a sign of blood coming from the upper intestinal tract. It's rare, but still not something you should roll the dice on.
6It Contains Mucus
Just when you thought the topic couldn't get any grosser, it does. According to the site for Seattle Children's Hospital, mucus in your baby's stool could mean there's an infection. There are other, less worrisome causes for this, but you should let your child's doctor rule out major problems first.
7It Looks Like Pebbles
A good rule of thumb is to remember that babies are not rabbits. Basically, their stool shouldn't resemble pellets. Pediatrician Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson told Parents that hard, compact stool is a sign of constipation and should be considered a red flag. There are several factors which can contribute to constipation, you should check with your child's physician to be safe.