When a baby is too little to tell when something might be wrong with his digestion, his waste products can give you a pretty good clue. Therefore, new parents become well-versed in monitoring dirty diapers and are often quick to panic when something looks weird. If you've discovered green poop, chances are you're uneasy, but rest assured that it's likely nothing to worry about. However, understanding the causes can put your mind at ease.
The typical breastfed baby produces a mustard yellow color of poop most of the time, but that doesn't mean it won't look a strange green color to you from time to time. In fact, according to the experts at Similac, a dark greenish poop in the first few days of life is perfectly normal and is called meconium. It appears this color because your baby is still working bilirubin through her system properly. If your baby is older than a couple of days and has green poop, there are a few things that can cause the issue.
According to expert lactation consultant, Susan Condon on the Baby Center website, a breastfed baby's poop is most often a mustard yellow color, but it can range toward the green side of spectrum at times too. However, what you eat can also cause changes. So next time you get a colorful surprise when you open your baby's diaper, think back to what you ate prior to his last feeding. The following foods might be the culprit, Baby Body Signs: The Head to Toe Guide to Your Child's Health From Birth Through the Toddler Years, (page 209):
- Dark leafy green vegetables, such as spinach
- Lime flavored gelatin
- Artificially dyed candy and sodas
Because the foods you eat pass through your breast milk and into your baby's digestive tract, the colors can often create interesting hues in the diaper. Other culprits might be green fruit snacks and green Pedialyte, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. If you're still worried, it's perfectly appropriate to contact your baby's pediatrician for reassurance.
Formula Fed Babies
Because formula fed babies aren't getting any of the food the mother eats, green poop might not be as common. That doesn't mean it never happens though. Iron supplements can sometimes result in greenish hued feces, so if you're feeding your baby formula with added iron, it might cause changes in the color you'll see in her diaper, according to Similac. Again this perfectly normal and likely nothing to worry about.
Introducing Solid Foods
Nothing results in more diaper surprises than introducing solids to your baby. As his digestive system matures to handle his new diet, it can make poop interesting for the few days after starting a new food. In addition to new colors, including green, you might notice different textures and smells, according to the Mayo Clinic. All of this is to be expected, however alarming it might be. Much like with adults, the foods he eats influence the color of what comes back out.
When Green Poop Is a Problem
In most instances, green poop in the diaper is nothing to worry about. However, if the color is accompanied by strange new textures or appearances, there might be a problem. If that's the case, it's always a good idea to contact your little one's pediatrician. Consider the following information to help you determine if a call to the doctor is necessary.
- A gastrointestinal infection can turn a baby's poop green and very loose, which is an issue that often needs medical attention to prevent dehydration. In fact, according to Liebmann-Smith, a green stool that occurs when you haven't ingested anything that shade is a good sign of a possible infection and the color should return to normal when the infection is treated.
- A foremilk/hindmilk imbalance is another possibility for breastfed babies. When you nurse your baby, she is supposed to get a good ratio of foremilk, or the milk that comes out first, and hindmilk, which comes out at the end of a breastfeeding session. When that ratio is skewed, which can happen when you don't nurse long enough on each side, it can cause disturbances to normal digestion that often mimic food allergies, according to the nutritionists at La Leche League International. As a result, your baby's poop might appear foamy and green.
- A baby with green, loose, mucousy stools might have a dairy allergy or sensitivity, according to The Portable Pediatrician: Everything You Need to Know About Your Child's Health. Wheat and soy might also cause this problem.
Learning to Live With Green Poop
Chances are that green poop will be something you encounter often as your baby grows. Even when he stops wearing diapers, he may come to in panic because his stools are a funny color. Being aware of the reasons why it happens can make the times when it does occur much easier to handle. Look at with humor and you'll both get through it unscathed.