Understanding Stool Color in Babies

Babies can exhibit different

stool colors

at different stages of their early life. The color, consistency and contents are of primary importance as far as stools in babies are concerned. Babies have a relatively simple digestive process. Any sudden change in color can indicate a problem in the digestive process.

When the baby ingests the milk, it reaches the stomach and is acted upon by enzymes and gastric juices. It then moves on to the small intestine where the nutrients are absorbed and assimilated and the larger undigested elements like the fiber moves on to the large intestine to be discharged as stools. Whether the consistency of the stools will be hard or soft depends on the passage time of the undigested components through the intestine. If the passage takes longer, then the water is absorbed more and stool comes out hard and pellet like as in constipation. Alternately, if the intestinal passage is faster then the stools are watery and runny as in constipation.

As the stools passes through the intestine, it gets acted on by enzymes, gastric juices like bile, chemicals and microbes. This is what gives stool its color.

Baby Stools

What are the different stool color in babies?

Babies have different colored stools depending on the following factors:

  • Meconium

    : The bowel movements during the first couple of days after being born is referred to as meconium. It is dark black in color and has a sticky consistency. It is the substance that has been formed in the baby intestine while in the mother’s womb. It is mainly aminiotic fluid and shed skin particles.

  • Breast Fed Babies

    : Breast fed babies have frequent bowel movements which tend be between pale yellow to dark yellow in color. The stool tend to be mushy and soft in texture.

  • Formula Fed Babies

    : Formula fed babies have more bulk in their stools and tend to be harder than breast fed babies. The consistency is thicker and denser and the color varies between yellow to light brown.

Apart from the above, babies may have the following color of stools:

  • Red Stools

    : Stools can have a tinge of red color in case there is any bleeding involved. Constipated hard stools can cause tears in the anal lining and can cause it to bleed. This may cause red stools.

  • Green Stools

    : Viral or bacterial infection or teething may result in intestinal irritation and result in green stools with mucus.

  • Black Stools

    : Intestinal bleeding can result in tarry black stools known as melena. This happens when there is internal bleeding and the blood changes color as it passes down the intestine.

  • White Chalky Stools

    : This happens when there is a bile dysfunction and there is no bile to act on the food. It is bile which gives stool its yellow color. So, babies with white , chalky stool color may indicate a serious digestive problem.


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