Regardless of the feeding pattern (breast-fed or formula-fed), your baby’s feces will be black and tarry for the first two to three days. This is the first feces called meconium that the baby has been accumulating nine months in the womb. Later, their bowel movement will be transited to a dark brown color. However, the color of the feces will take on a different color which depends very much on whether they’re breastfeeding or formula-feeding and whether solid foods have been introduced. A breast-fed baby will normally have runny yellow feces, while a formula-fed baby will have pasty, mustard-colored feces. As a result, the color of your baby’s feces can be varied from day-to-day basis, ranging from yellow to green, which is regarded as normal. When they get older, the frequency of their bowel movement changes accordingly. They may have up to 10 times of bowel movements during their first year of life or as a newborn, but an older baby will have much fewer bowel movements depending on what they’ve been eaten and drunk.
When you start introducing solid food into your baby’s diet, at about 4 to 6 months, you’ll observe a significant color change of feces in their diaper. That means the feces may pick up green, brown, orange, or yellow color from foods and the texture of the feces will depend very much on the amount of fiber that is present in the diet. The introduction of new foods not only can change the content of your baby’s feces, but also it can sometimes lead to a diaper rash. Furthermore, switching diet either to formula or new foods can undeniably change the amount of feces being excreted and how often your baby will poop.
When you feed your 4-month-old baby or your child with green foods such as beans, spinach, and pureed peas, the feces will be green, and when you feed them with orange foods such as squash and carrots, the content of their next diaper will be orange, bright orange to yellow. That means once on solids, what goes in their body will give a change to the feces. When they’re fed with a variety of foods, their feces will later become darker, thicker and smelly.
From 9 months to 1 year old, your child will gradually progress to more textured foods and a variety of complex table foods; you shouldn’t be surprise to find that baked beans, peas, corns or raisins pass straight through their feces. This is because your child doesn’t always chew the food well, and thus it’s not unusual to find pieces of undigested food appearing in their feces. This condition normally improves when their digestive tract develops maturely as it’s populated by normal and new bacteria to cope with these textured foods more efficiently. From a year and above, your child’s feces begin to take on the familiar “classic” form and rather more consistent brown color of adult’s or an older child’s feces. It’s rarely a case that color changes signify a digestive problem.
As parents, you shouldn’t be alarmed when you observe green, yellow, orange or brown feces of your child or baby. Similarly, it’s completely normal to have a regular change in their feces color and consistency, that is to say, from soft and mustard-yellow to yellow with green specks, and later back again the following day.
When you introduce solid foods, for example, rice cereal and foods (such as applesauce, bananas), your baby’s feces tend to firm up. This is because the undigested parts (particularly fiber) continue moving down the intestines at a leisurely pace, the water has more time enough to be absorbed and thus what poops out may be quite firm. You may observe the changes in odor, color or texture of their feces. This is due to that when the feces move thorough the intestines, they’ll pick up various digestive bile, juices, bacteria and other chemical substances, which define the characteristic odor and color of the feces.
Excessive amounts of rice cereal, applesauce, cheese and bananas are typical culprits for less frequent feces (or constipation). This is due to that these foods can slow down the digestive process, and thus causing constipation. To solve this problem, I may recommend you to switch to oatmeal cereal or barley, or you may add foods such as green vegetables, prunes (even diluted prune juice in a cup will do) or pears to move foods down through the system. Before making this dietary changes, however, please seek for your doctor’s or paediatrician’s advice first.
Usually color changes simply means that there is less or more of the green/brown/orange/yellow pigments being picked when the feces move along the way before eliminating via anus. This condition generally poses no potential risk for your baby, but unfortunately, they may sometimes end up with constipation. To soften the feces, you’re advised to balance your baby’s diet by introducing foods such as apricots, peas, prunes, pears, plums and peaches. When you notice mucous, loose or watery feces for several diaper changes, severe diarrhea with blood in it, or dark red jelly-looking feces accompanying with abdominal pain, please consult your doctor right away.
Note: If your baby has a family record of allergies (either from their parents, siblings or any family members with food allergies), please consult your doctor on the issue when to introduce allergenic foods and which types of foods are suitable for them.
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