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4 baby poo myths debunked

If your newborn is straining, does it mean she's constipated? Are epic blowouts normal? Read on for answers to your stinkiest questions.

By Today's Parent
4 baby poo myths debunked

Photo: iStockphoto

There's a wide range of "normal" in the wild world of baby poo. We've tackled your most common concerns.

1. Your newborn is pushing, turning red and fussing a bit during her bowel movement—she must be constipated.

FALSE Newborns strain with bowel movements because they have extremely small anal canals, not necessarily because they’re constipated.

2. Sweetened drinks such as juice can cause loose stools.

TRUE Sugar can exacerbate loose poops, so avoid juice when your little one has diarrhea.

3. Your baby finally pooed after three days, and even though it’s soft, she’s got to be constipated.

FALSE Babies don’t always keep to a schedule, and it’s normal for them to go days without pooing. Looking at the texture of stool is a far better indicator: If it’s firm and compact like pebbles, it might be a sign of constipation.

4. It’s totally normal for your baby to have explosive poo that defies the diaper’s boundaries and spreads right up her back and down her legs. And somehow this always seems to happen on the one day you leave home without a spare onesie.

TRUE Every. Single. Time.

Is green poop normal? Here's a guide to your baby's poop colour.

Mustard yellow

Why: Mustard yellow is a very standard colour for breastfed babies. The "seed" texture is from partially digested fat and calcium (entirely common).

What to do: Keep doing what you're doing!

4 baby poo myths debunked Illustration by Dave Quiggle

Yellow-brown

Why: Formula-fed babies commonly have pasty yellow-brown poos. "Seed" texture is common here, too.

What to do: Keep doing what you're doing!

4 baby poo myths debunked Illustration by Dave Quiggle

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Black

Why: Sticky, tar-like newborn poops are meconium. Though alarming, black stool could also be dried or digested blood from mom's cracked nipples.

What to do: Meconium will pass. For new breastfeeders, heal your nipples (check your latch, use your own milk to soothe and give the ladies plenty of air time). If you're concerned, your doctor can perform a quick test to see who the dried blood belongs to.

4 baby poo myths debunked Illustration by Dave Quiggle

White

Why: Poo gets its colour from bile, so an absence of colour—chalky white poo—means there isn't enough bile. This may signal a problem with the liver or gallbladder.

What to do: If it's a one-off, don't worry. But if it's more than one bowel movement in a row, chalky poo should send you to the doctor.

4 baby poo myths debunked Illustration by Dave Quiggle

Red

Why: Unless your baby has been gorging on beets, the red in your baby's poo may be blood. Red specks or streaks may be a sign of a reaction or allergy, which affects both breastfed and formula-fed babies. It may also indicate an intestinal problem. If your baby is constipated–passing hard, pellet-like stools–blood could be coming from small anal tears.

What to do: See your doctor if you've ruled out constipation as a source of blood in your baby's stool.

4 baby poo myths debunked Illustration by Dave Quiggle

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Green

Why: A very common colour, green means stool is passing through the gut more quickly than usual.

What to do: If your baby is feeding well and happy, and shows no signs of discomfort, don't sweat the green stuff.

4 baby poo myths debunked Illustration by Dave Quiggle

And in general, keep these handy poo helpers within reach:

  • Wipes: If your baby has extremely sensitive skin, we like WaterWipes. If not, we think the textured patterning of these Pampers Sensitive wipes makes tough, icky messes a breeze to clean up.
  • Changing pad: Big diaper blowouts call for serious changing pads that secure baby and rear-related explosions. We love this contoured pad with machine-washable cover.
This article was originally published on Feb 23, 2016

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