Stool Color in Children

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You never know what you’re going to find in your child’s diaper. Most of the time, you’ll get a normal-colored stool, but occasionally, you’ll be surprised with something a bit more technicolor. While you usually don’t have to worry about what you find, it’s smart to know the signs of a more serious problem.


What’s Normal

When your baby is born, his first stool will be black and sticky, a shock to parents who may think that a black stool indicates blood in the stool. This is called meconium and is normal. After that, a breastfed baby will have stool that is runny and yellowish in color, similar to mustard. You may also notice small “seeds” in it. Formula-fed babies may have yellow, brown or green stools. They will be somewhat more firm.

Shocking, But Nothing to Worry About

Occasionally, your child may surprise you with a stool that’s bright green, blue or even rainbow colored. Before you pick up the phone to call the doctor — or the nightly news — think about the foods that your child has recently ate. Often, the dye in a food like frosting or ice cream can cause these oddly colored stools. If your child’s stool is red, it could also be a result of food dye, but you should take care that it isn’t blood. Black stool is common if your baby has a diet that’s high in iron, such as if she’s receiving iron supplementation.

Signs of a Problem

A stool that has streaks of blood in it is probably related to anal fissures. Keep an eye on the situation and contact your doctor if it persists. Occasional diarrhea is also normal, but take care to increase your child’s fluids to prevent dehydration. Call your doctor if it lasts more than a few days or is accompanied by a fever. Black stool could also signify a problem if your child doesn’t take iron supplements. Whenever you think there might be a serious problem, it’s always best to call your doctor, just to be on the safe side.

Bringing a Sample

If possible, hang on to the diaper or stool in question in case your doctor wants to perform tests. In most cases, this is unnecessary, but your doctor may request tests if he suspects blood in the stool. If you don’t have a sample, you may need to collect one over the next few days.

Time Frame

Most abnormal stools should resolve themselves in a few days. If they don’t, you can call your doctor for advice.

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