Your child's poop can tell you a lot about what's going on with their overall health. These are the 7 top facts about poop you should know.
When you’re a parent, talking about poop is a totally normal conversational piece. After all, parents should know everything about their kids, right down to the dirty topics. It is important to be educated and well informed about your kid’s poop and what it tells you about their bowel movement and gut health.
It can reveal signs of digestive problems, lack of nutrients and a whole string of other things. You don’t necessarily have to run to the doctor immediately with a sample if you think there might be something wrong with your toddler’s poop.
Referring to these seven simple facts about what your toddler’s poop says about their health might help you decide whether a trip to the doctor’s may be necessary:
Fact #1: Poop is mostly made out of water!
Parents, you always tell your children to eat more fibrous foods like vegetables, beans and nuts. Even still, the poop that comes out is mostly made out of water.
Dietary fibre is known for relieving constipation but does not make up much of the contents of poop. Fibre is typically not digested by the body so it passes somewhat intact through your intestines and colon and out of your body. There are two types of fibre – soluble and insoluble fibre. Insoluble fibre promotes movement of material through the digestive system and that is why parents always feed their kids more fibrous food!1
Fact #2: Poop colours: Yellow, green or brown are totally normal.
Colour, consistency and smell of your kid’s poop may vary. Brownish and yellowish stools are normal, and may vary between the two shades depending on what they eat2.
Interestingly enough, green stools could be the result of your child’s diet being high in greens like spinach, and so the poop could also come out a little greenish3. But if your child is passing stools that are bloody or pale white, do consult a doctor as it is a sign of a more serious issue2.
Fact #3: Not pooping for more than a day at a time doesn’t always mean your child is constipated
Just because your kids don’t pass stools every day does not mean that there is something wrong. New parents might be concerned that this could pose a health threat. But in fact, it may be perfectly normal for kids to not pass stools every day. They are growing and as such, their abdominal muscles and digestive functions are still developing4.
If your child is acting normal and happy, chances are, they are not constipated. If they seem like they are in pain while passing hard stools and their bowel movements are irregular, it could be a sign of constipation4.
Just monitor them closely, especially for the consistency of their stools as this is a good indicator of whether or not they are actually constipated.
Fact #4: When your child’s poop is hard and the stools are broken up, they could be suffering from constipation
According to the Bristol Stool Chart, if your child’s stools look like the example under Type 1, there is a possibility that he or she is suffering from constipation. The stools are described as hard and abrasive. The scratchy consistency of the poop is what makes passing it extremely uncomfortable, or even painful, for your toddler. In severe cases, your precious one could even experience bleeding from it.
Prolonged cases of constipation could lead to a large mass of poop being held in the gut and later on could lead to soiling (when a child is toilet trained but still uncontrollably soils themselves while awake and active). Long term wise, this may reduce their self-confidence in social settings.
Don’t let it get to this point and ensure that your child’s diet is always well-balanced.
Fact #5: Constipation is common among children.
It is sad but it is true. Constipation among toddlers is a common issue6. It can arise from a series of issues, which includes lack of fibre in their diets, not drinking enough liquids, reluctance to be potty trained and anxiety over changes in their routine (e.g. starting nursery school, arrival of a sibling, change of nanny, etc). You can help overcome this by making sure to incorporate fibre in their diet.
Fact #6: Diarrhoea can cause dehydration
When your child has diarrhoea, be sure to keep him or her properly hydrated, whether it is with milk or water to prevent dehydration. But do avoid fruit juices as this will actually make the condition worse. Medical experts recommend taking probiotics when your child has diarrhoea and to make sure he or she is always hydrated7. That being said, diarrhoea is uncomfortable for a child, so proper treatment and management are important.
Fact #7: Potty training toddlers for pooping is easier than peeing
The good thing about quick growing toddlers is that they will eventually start potty training. When the time comes for them to be potty trained, going to the potty for number two is far easier than number one! You can start training them gradually but if they seem put off, don’t force it. They may not be ready and it may cause them to lose confidence in using the potty in the future8. It would help if your child’s bowel movements are regular and their stools look healthy too!
Now that you are armed with all of these facts, you should be able to ensure your child’s bowel movements are as smooth as their bottoms.
1Dietary fiber: Essential for a healthy diet. [Internet]. 22.09.2015. Retrieved from www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/fiber/art-20043983 [06.06.2017]
2What can your child’s poop color tell you [Internet] Retrieved from www.hopkinsmedicine.org/johns-hopkins-childrens-center/what-we-treat/specialties/gastroenterology-hepatology-nutrition/stool-color-overview.html [16.06.2017]
PLoSPathog. Nov 2013; 9(11): e100372. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1003726 (accessed May 5, 2017)
3Green stool. [Internet]. 19.09.2015. Retrieved from www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/green-stool/basics/causes/sym-20050708 [15.06.2017]
4Constipation in children: what to do. [Internet]. 01.09.2013. Retrieved from www.pamfblog.org/2013/09/child-constipation [16.06.2017]
5Gellner, C., Dr. The poop on poop: kids constipation. [Internet]. 08.01.2014. Retrieved from healthcare.utah.edu/the-scope/shows.php?shows=0_v590hptx [14.06.2017]
6Constipation in children. [Internet]. 18.08.2016. Retrieved from www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/constipation-in-children/home/ovc-20235976 [16.06.2017]
7Schmitt, B. D. Diarrhea: toddler (age 1 to 3 years). [Internet] Retrieved from www.summitmedicalgroup.com/library/ pediatric_health/hhg_diarrhea_toddler/ [06.06.2017]
8Toilet teaching your child. [Internet] 01.10.2014. Retrieved from kidshealth.org/en/parents/toilet-teaching.html# [16.06.2017]