Newborn Diarrhea & Green Poop
~ in the Breastfed Baby
Article updated: 11 April, 2019
Table of contents
Why Is Breast Milk so Important?
Breast milk is the best remedy for a baby during diarrhea because it provides immune protection as well as gut protection. Continued breastfeeding will not only help a baby recover quickly, but breast milk is significantly easier to digest than any formula. (1)
How to Know If Its Diarrhea
Is your breast milk the same as dairy?
No, your breast milk is not a dairy product. It is nothing like cow's milk and is specially designed to be perfect for all your baby's needs.
Most breastfed babies tend to have loose stools, these are sometimes mistaken for diarrhea. To tell the difference between a normal stool and diarrhea, you need to take state-of-being and a few other things into account.
Newborn babies often have a stool after every feeding, but after about a month a decrease in output is common (usually about three stools per day). At eight weeks a breastfed infant may have one bowel movement every 10 days or may have a few every day - all babies are different. It is clear that frequency is not always a good way to judge whether your baby has diarrhea or not unless you notice a definite increase in stools (up to 16 stools per day).
Diarrhea stools will typically smell bad, and they will be watery compared to regular bowel movements.
It might take a few weeks before the stools go back to normal after a stomach bug; this is because diarrhea causes gut irritation and inflammation, which takes a while to heal.
If your baby has a stomach bug, it has to be given time to pass on its own. The real concern is dehydration, as dehydration can occur quickly in infants.
What Does a Normal Breast-Milk-Stool Look Like?
It is usually soft, yellow and sometimes runny. It may contain small seed-like structures; these are often said to look like scrambled eggs or mustard.
Normal Breast Milk Stools, although they may be runnier.
Normal stools and urine output for breastfed babies.
What to Do If Your Baby Has Diarrhea
- If your baby is capable of drinking anything, it should be breast milk. Breast milk is absorbed so remarkably quickly, that even if your baby vomits after breastfeeding, some of the milk will still have been absorbed, including valuable immune boosting factors as well as gut protecting agents. Breast milk should be your number one choice as no other supplements will contain precisely what your baby needs to get better.
- Small, yet frequent feedings are best to keep the volume of feeds to as little as possible; this will help your baby keep the milk down. Although, if your baby wants to feed more, that's okay too; some babies use breastfeeding as a source of comfort when they are feeling ill. In this case, to limit the amount of milk taken in at once, you can pump milk beforehand to drain the breast. Breastfeeding your baby on demand will ensure that he/she does not become dehydrated.
- Take your baby's temperature regularly, so that if he/she develops a fever, you will know immediately.
- To avoid diaper rash, keep your baby as clean and as dry as possible. Use a diaper ointment after each change.
- Always wash your hands before and after changing your baby's diaper to prevent the spread of germs to and from your baby.
The Cause of Diarrhea in Newborns & Older Children
Breast milk helps to protect the gut, find out how.
Studies show that breastfed babies get diarrhea much less than their formula-fed counterparts.
- Viruses, bacteria, parasites, and fungi organisms can cause diarrhea. Babies who are at daycare are at higher risk, as these germs spread easily.
- When solids are started, sensitivities to certain foods can cause diarrhea. In older babies, some fruit juices can also cause runny stools.
- The introduction of solids too early, or too abruptly can also cause issues.
- When your baby is teething, he/she ingests a lot of salivae. This excessive saliva can cause looser than usual, mucousy stools. Also, teethers are germ magnets.
- The foods in a breastfeeding mother's diet can cause a reaction if her baby is allergic to something. Get your baby tested before changing your diet. The most common allergen is cow's milk. Many formulas are derived from cow's milk, and so if you are combination feeding, you need to check your formula.
- Laxatives can sometimes be passed to the baby, via the breast milk and cause diarrhea.
- If your baby is irritable, has green, explosive stools filled with mucus, and you have an oversupply of milk, your baby may be drinking too much of the watery foremilk that contains too much lactose for him/her to handle. See foremilk/hindmilk imbalance.
Should I Give My Breastfed Baby Pedialyte?
Avoid giving over the counter remedies for diarrhea and dehydration for newborn diarrhea. Find out why giving a breastfed baby Pedialyte instead of breastmilk may actually delay healing!
The more your baby breastfeeds, the more your baby is protected, and dehydration is less likely to occur. Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended!
What About Green Diarrhea?
An occasional greenish hue to the stools is normal, as well as a certain amount of mucus, however, constant green, explosive stools are a sign of a sensitivity to something in the mother's diet. As mentioned above, it could also indicate a foremilk-hindmilk imbalance, which is only prevalent if the mother has an oversupply of breast milk. If you are struggling with hyperlactation and you think your baby may have a lactose overload, visit our foremilk-hindmilk page for help.
When to Go to a Doctor?
- A baby with diarrhea, who develops a fever and a temperature of more than 38.3 degrees, calls for immediate attention.
- Any newborn diarrhea accompanied by repeated vomiting needs professional medical attention.
- A dehydrated baby, who has a dry mouth and who has not wet a diaper in over six hours, requires help.
- Your baby is sleeping more than usual and seems weak
- There is blood in your baby's stool
- Your baby cries without the appearance of tears.
- Skin that is pinched should not stay pinched when you let go.
- Your baby is clammy, particularly his/her digits.
- Your baby seems to be breathing faster than usual.
- A sunken fontanel (the soft spot on the top of your baby's head)
End of green breastfed baby poop page