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The Poop On...

It may be tough to admit, but once you have a baby you become more interested in poop than you ever would have imagined. Typically, infants who are breast-fed will have mustard-yellow, very soft stools. Formula-fed babies, and those who are eating solids, have darker, firmer stools. But variations in appearance are bound to show up, and most are completely normal. Here's a guide:

Green Stool
"This isn't something to worry about," says Judith Sondheimer, M.D., of the Children's Hospital, in Denver. Certain foods, such as soy-based formulas, can cause green stool, as will antibiotics.

Multicolored Stool or Food Particles
Strained carrots and squash can produce orange stool. And while it's not uncommon for toddlers to pass whole raisins or pieces of corn, this doesn't mean a child's body feels discomfort or isn't absorbing nutrients.

Sandy-Looking Stool
Most common in babies who are eating solids, such stool is often due to high-fiber foods, like oats and fruit. A sandy, sticky consistency could also indicate mild constipation; if so, your pediatrician can advise you on how to ease the problem by making changes in the baby's diet.

"Seeded" Stool
In toddlers, seeds from foods such as tomatoes, raspberries, and watermelon will pass painlessly out of the body whole.

While the above variations are harmless, if you notice the following, save the stool in the diaper and call your pediatrician immediately:

  • Putty-colored or chalk-white stool, which can indicate liver trouble.

  • Blood in the stool, a possible sign of infection or internal bleeding.

  • Large amounts of mucus in the stool, which may be due to inflammation or infection.

  • Black stool, sometimes caused by upper-gastrointestinal bleeding.

  • An unusually high number of watery bowel movements in one day, which may be the result of infection and could lead to dehydration.

  • No bowel movement for three consecutive days, or tiny, hard stool, which may indicate constipation.