Stool Changes

Question

My daughter is 3 weeks old and nursing. For the last week she’s had diarrhea. Should I be worried?

Dr. Greene's Answer

Babies can experience many stool changes during the first eight weeks or so. First are the days of slow, sticky, meconium stools, but by the end of the first week, stooling speeds up and breastfed kids have a stool every time they eat–or even more often. They average 8 to 10 soft, yellow, seedy stools.

Over the next three weeks, in breastfed kids, this number usually starts to drop. By 4 weeks, the average is about four soft stools a day, though there is quite a lot of variability in this. At 8 weeks, the number drops to an average of only one a day and some breastfed babies have only one every several days–up to once every seven days or so can be normal.

If your baby is suffering from diarrhea, our biggest concern is dehydration. We want to be sure that kids are getting in plenty of fluid to replace what is lost, and then some. If you were to notice yourself becoming engorged, or if you notice that your baby is not making at least one wet diaper every eight hours or is suffering from a fever, dry mouth, or dry mucous membranes, you want her to be seen right away. It is also important that your baby continues to gain adequate amounts of weight. If she isn’t, your doctor may suggest some tests, supplementing with formula, or pumping to increase your breast milk supply. Otherwise, this type of stooling could come from developmental changes in the intestines or from a mild virus. It could also be a reaction to a food in your diet (the most common of these is to milk). Let your pediatrician know about the stools in a phone call or at your baby’s 1-month checkup.

September 27, 2008
Published on: January 23, 2003
About the Author
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Dr. Greene is a practicing physician, author, national and international TEDx speaker, and global health advocate. He is a graduate of Princeton University and University of California San Francisco.
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Recent Comments

My baby is 3 months and am really worried because he had poo three times just today alone is that diarrhoea.

My 10 week old is on amino acid based formula and is having mucusy stool, smells heavily of sulfur and is very colicky acting.

her two siblings both had milk protein sensitivity and she had shown similar problems as well which is why she’s on neocate.

Our pedi is on maternity leave and we cant get in for a few weeks and when i call they tell me to go to walk in clinic but its alway a resident

Hi Dr.Greene,

I hope you get a chance to look at this message because I am in deep need of a real consultation. So my son is 14 months old and he was switched to whole milk once he turned one. Since about mid May i started noticing that he had troubles pooping and now its worse.

My son is usually a quiet super happer baby and lately hes been extremely fussy, lack of sleep, doesnt want to sleep, gets super upset when we say no or take something away-plus right now he is always wanting to be with me. We gave taken him to the doctor twice and havent really done anything about it. We have tried the peune juice, giving pedialite, gripe water, pedia-lax liquid suppositories and nothing seems to work! He cries so much and sweats whenever he. Does poop. I just really dont know because hes lost weight and definetly has hard stool problems throughout the day. He tries pushing, turns red, and just stops. please help mr

Hi Maricela,

It sounds like a tough time for your son – and for you. The things you have tried so far (prune juice, pedia-lax, etc.) are aimed at solving the symptom of constipation. If possible, it’s great to find and address the cause. The one clue in your question is his recent switch to whole milk. In many kids, a reaction to milk can cause constipation (http://www.drgreene.com/qa-articles/milk-constipation/). If the pediatrician is not able to find and address the cause, a pediatric GI doctor can often get to the root of the problem, especially if weight loss is involved.