What is normal stool for babies and young children?
The first stool passed by your baby within the first 24-48 hours is called meconium, which is normally green and very sticky (Griffin & Beattie 2001). Breastfed infants pass a softer and greater number of stools than formula-fed(Fontana et al). The stool consistency should be soft until weaning when it becomes firmer.
Why are stools of breast-fed infants different?
Breast milk contains lactose as carbohydrate and oligosaccharide, the food of good bacteria that stimulate their growth. Good bacteria, also called probiotics namely,lactobacilli and bifidobacteria, are necessary to promote a healthy digestive tract. A healthy digestive tract means healthy stooling in terms of frequency and consistency. As the baby matures, normal changes occur within the digestive system that result to a decreased number of stools.
The tell-tale signs that your child may be constipated
Signs that your baby may be constipated can be observed in the bowel frequency and consistency. For example, if your baby is between 0-3 months old, 2 bowel movements per day is considered normal, if formula fed. If it differs from this normal range, you may see a health care professional for proper diagnosis and advise.
Does your toddler suppress stooling or “hold on”?
It may only take one episode of uncomfortable or painful experience of stooling for a toddler to develop a behavior to suppress defecation in order to avoid the further passage of anticipated uncomfortable or painful stools.
Suppressing defecation may lead to pushing the stool higher up in the rectum that reduces the urge to defecate. If the behavior of “holding on” or suppressing defecation continues, the rectum eventually stretches to accommodate the retained stools, then the child will very quickly become constipated.
It is important that any change in stool consistency or frequency that may indicate the potential development of constipation is addressed quickly to prevent the cycle of ‘holding on’ or suppressing stooling.