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Debunking Old Wives' Tales: Is My Child’s Poop Supposed to be Green?

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Debunking Old Wives' Tales: Is My Child’s Poop Supposed to be Green?

Sep 19, 2016

Parents, especially new ones, can become obsessed with what’s in their child’s diaper. How much is enough? How much is too little? What color is normal? Pediatrician Dr. Cindy Gellner addresses three of the most common bowel movement myths about toddlers.

Episode Transcript

Dr. Gellner: What's in your child's diaper? We'll discuss old wives' tales about baby and toddler poop today on The Scope. I'm Dr. Cindy Gellner.

Announcer: Keep your kids healthy and happy. You are now entering the Healthy Kids Zone with Dr. Cindy Gellner on The Scope.

Dr. Gellner: Parents seem to be obsessed with their child's poop from the day their babies are born. Some of the most common concerns we get as pediatricians involve young kids and their bowel habits. The top three old wives' tales that we get questioned about include:

Number one, if my child doesn't poop at least once a day, something is terribly wrong.

Probably not. Babies have to have at least one bowel movement in the first 48 hours of life or they can't get sent home from the nursery. That's when to worry.

Breastfed babies can poop as often as every time they eat, or as little as once a week with a huge blowout, and lots of laundry for you.

Formula fed babies can poop several times a day to once every four days. Number two, my baby is constipated because they scream and turn red whenever they poop.

So there's something called dyschezia that most babies have. It's apparently painful pooping, but your child isn't really in pain, They're pushing, and grunting, and crying to increase pressure in their bellies to squeeze the poop out past the rectal sphincter, that's the muscle that controls poop flow. And unless the poops are rock hard, your child doesn't have true constipation.

Number three, my child's poop is green, or blue, or purple, or orange, is there something wrong with their digestion?

Unlikely. Chances are they ate something with natural or artificial coloring. Red foods can cause reddish or orange poop, purple can cause red or blue poop, green or blue can cause blue poop, iron in the formula can cause greenish poops. Quite honestly, the only colors we really worry about are pure white with the consistency of powdered chalk, very black like tar, and very stinky, and your child is more than a few days old, or if they have actual blood on the surface or mixed into their poops. We need to know about those right away.

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