As a new parent, the last thing you think about before the baby is born is poop. Afterward, it’s nearly ALL you think about! What color it is, how runny or firm, and how often you see it.
Between diaper explosions that require an entire load of laundry with everyone getting a bath, and going days without seeing a bowel movement from your little one, your baby’s poop is probably on your mind a lot these days.
Checking what’s in your baby’s diaper is a great way to keep tabs on your baby’s health, even if it is a bit gross.
It’s perhaps a bit more gross than usual lately if your baby’s stool is GREEN. If your baby has green stool, keep reading to find out if that’s normal, what causes it, and what you might need to do about it.
Is Green Baby Poop Normal?
To determine whether or not your baby’s green poop is normal, you first need to establish a few things. You may want to start a diary on a piece of paper, or just take mental note of the following:
- What is your baby eating? Breastmilk? Formula? Solids?
- How often is the stool green? Every day? Just occasionally? Is this the first time?
- What shade of green? Bright? Darker?
- What is the texture? Is it runny, frothy, thick, hard?
- Is there anything in it, such as streaks of red (like blood), curd-like pieces, etc.?
How Often Do You See Green?
The occasional green stool is normal in breastfed babies. Seeing green frequently is an indication of a bigger problem, though.
It’s especially important to notice the frequency of green stools in breastfed babies because doctors may compare them to formula-fed babies, who have green stools more frequently, so they might miss a bigger problem in a breastfed baby.
KellyMom.com is an incredible breastfeeding information website that you should check out, along with other sources that give us some of the following issues as possible reasons for your baby’s green stools.
1) Lactose Imbalance
An imbalance in the breast milk your baby is getting, usually too much low-fat, watery milk and not enough high-fat, higher-calorie milk. This is also called “lactose overload”.
This results in more watery, pea-soup-like stool that may be frothy. Your baby will most likely be very fussy and gassy if this is the case.
If you are still struggling with breastfeeding or are afraid your milk supply is too low (often confused with lactose overload), then see a certified lactation consultatn, such as an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant).
2) Too Much, Too Fast
On a related note, your baby might be chugging their milk a little too fast, creating a lot of air in their stomach, which can lead to the explosive green stools you’re seeing.
Try laying back to nurse your baby, leaning on the arm of a couch or against a pillow in bed, to prevent them from gulping at the breast. Keep your baby in an upright position, helping them to manage this fast milk flow.
Note from Michelle Roth, BA, LCCE, IBCLC: “Too much milk is referred to as oversupply, and can be managed with pumping and block feeding. Work closely with a lactation consultant to do this, however, so you don’t inadvertently downregulate your milk supply too much.”
3) Diet Sensitivity
Green stool could indicate a sensitivity or intolerance to something in the mother’s diet, such as dairy or gluten.
Other symptoms of this might include skin rash, like eczema, or a red sore rash on your baby’s bottom, gassiness, fussiness, excess spitting, and blood or mucus in baby’s stool.
Similarly, supplements taken by you or by baby can turn stool green. Iron supplements are notorious for causing dark green stools. Some breastfeeding women also take herbal supplements like fenugreek to help with supply, so it’s important to note that fenugreek can sometimes make your baby’s poop green as well.
See your baby’s pediatrician if you think they have a sensitivity to anything you are consuming.
Are you or your baby taking any medications? Green stools that are consistent may be caused by a reaction to a medication.
Many medications can be passed on to your baby through breastmilk, so be sure to check with your doctor or at the LactMed free online database before taking anything while breastfeeding.
You can also talk with your doctor about changing your medication if your baby seems sensitive to it or if you’re concerned about transferring it through your breastmilk.
Keep in mind, if your baby has recently been vaccinated or had a round of antibiotics, these might also be the cause of green poop.
If so, wait a few days and your baby’s stool should return to normal.
Believe it or not, teething can cause green watery stools because of the excess saliva your baby’s mouth produces during this time.
Some of this saliva dribbles out of your baby’s mouth, but most will be swallowed and end up in your baby’s diaper.
A cold or a stomach virus could cause green stool, though there will likely be other symptoms as well that lead you to this conclusion, such as a fever, excessive tiredness, vomiting, or a runny or stuffy nose.
As you read above, teething babies can also have green stool and often have fevers as well, and it can be hard to tell the difference.
If you’re concerned, don’t hesitate to take your baby to your pediatrician for a diagnosis, especially if their temperature is above 100.3 degrees Fahrenheit, they seem lethargic, or they’re vomiting.
7) Starting Solids
What your baby is eating should be the first thing you consider before getting concerned about the color of their poop.
If your baby is older than six months and has started eating solids, consider whether they had spinach, green beans, or another green food lately.
These foods that are naturally (or artificially) colored can change a baby’s poop color for about a day, after which it should return to normal.
If it doesn’t return to normal or the color change happens again and your baby didn’t eat a green food, consider that it might be caused by something else.
8) Not Enough Milk
If the green stool you see in your baby’s diaper is just a smear and not large in volume, it may indicate your baby isn’t getting enough milk.
Wanting to eat constantly and not seeming full or satisfied after feeding, being fussy, sleepy, or not gaining much weight over time.
A lactation consultant can help you figure out if you are producing enough milk and make a plan for increasing your supply or supplementing if need be.
Remember, pumping a small amount of breast milk is not always an indicator you have a low supply, and some babies are small and don’t gain weight at the same rate as other babies.
If you’re nursing, make sure your pediatrician is using a breastfeeding baby weight chart, not a formula feeding weight chart, as the growth rates are different depending on what baby is eating.
It’s important to note that you shouldn’t block feed with a baby who has scant stool.
9) Jaundice Treatment
If your baby had jaundice at birth and was treated under special lights to help purge it from their system, then according to “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding” (2010, p. 396), your baby’s poop may be green as spinach due to their body trying to eliminate the excess bilirubin from their body.
10) Old Stool
If your baby has been sitting in that poopy diaper for some time, the color may have oxidized, making the normal yellowish-tint appear green.
This is no cause for concern, though – simply clean your baby and you’ll both feel relieved.
Wrapping It Up
As you can see, there are many reasons why your little one’s stool might be a disconcerting green.
Most of them aren’t harmful and will not last.
Just remember to talk with your baby’s pediatrician if you continue to see green stool in your baby’s diaper over a long period of time or with frequency, and include an IBCLC on your team to help with any breastfeeding questions and concerns you might have.
Baby poop can change colors rather frequently, and during your time as a parent you may see an entire rainbow – from mustard yellow to brown to green, even black.
If you see blood or mucus in your baby’s stool, however, you may need to get that checked out.
Just remember, it’s usually normal and it’s a good indicator that your baby’s body is working the way it should.