It's always a surprise to open your baby's diaper and see what he produced today. Once your baby starts eating solid food, the remnants of yesterday's dinner are usually plainly visible. Baby stools are usually not, like adult stool, perfectly formed and firm. Sticky stools can occur for a number of reasons.
The first stool produced after birth is called meconium. Hair, old skin cells, amniotic fluid and other debris go into the creation of meconium while your baby resides in the womb. This dark green, sticky stool can be incredibly difficult to clean off your baby's bottom. If your baby passed meconium before birth, as 10 to 15 percent of babies do, according to pediatrician Dr. Greene, you might not see much of this in the diaper. The average baby passes meconium for the first days after birth, before he starts eating enough to produce stool from what he eats. Passing meconium is a good sign that your baby's digestive tract works properly.
Normal Pasty Stools
Breastfed babies tend to have looser stool than bottle-fed babies, who may have pastier, stickier, brown stools that smell more like adult stool. Babies who drink iron-fortified formula may produce dark green pasty stool. If your baby's stools change suddenly in color or consistency, first consider what he might have eaten the previous day before calling the doctor. If your baby suddenly produces black stool that's firmer than before and if you recently changed formula or added iron, this may be the cause, pediatrician Jay Gordon explains. Don't hesitate to ask your baby's doctor about it, though.
Blood in the Stool
Blood in the stool is very uncommon in babies, but could occur if your baby has problems with his upper gastrointestinal tract, so that blood mixes with the stool to form a dark, tarry stool. A severe gastrointestinal infection or allergic reaction that causes gastritis or ulcers can cause GI bleeding in a baby. Normal newborns don't generally develop gastric ulcers, although babies in the neonatal intensive care unit who are extremely ill may develop gastric erosion, Dr. Ken Nagamori of the University of Hawaii explains. If you think your baby has passed a bloody stool, notify her doctor and save the stool for testing.
What goes in must come out. If your baby eats something new or unusual, expect unusual diaper results, since a baby's system doesn't break down food as efficiently as an older child's. It's simple to test stool for the presence of blood with a guaiac test, which can put your fears to rest. Your doctor will smear a small amount of stool on a small card and place several drops of testing solution on the stool. If the spot changes color, blood is present.
- DrGreene.com; The Marvels of Meconium; Alan Greene, M.D.; January 1999
- University of Hawaii; Gastrointestinal Bleeding and Peptic Ulcer Disease; Ken Nagamori, M.D.; March 2003
- Jay Gordon, M.D., F.A.A.P.; Color of the Day: Solving Bowel Movement Mysteries; Jay Gordon, M.D.; February 2010
- MedlinePlus: Stool guaiac test