This is all about poo.
Poo, shit and stools. Different colours, textures and smells.
Poo and nappy changing. Clothes changing because of poo. And face wiping because of poo.
Pooing in a public place and pissing on your Wife’s face. All these things and more!
Its best to get stuck in now and get your hands dirty, because later on your baby might be literally up to their neck in shit.
First things first, I will be talking about all types of baby poop but primarily I will assume that your child is breastfed (however I will not leave out formula fed children).
For the record, I love changing nappies. I changed my sons first nappy and since then it has become quite the bonding time between us. After Oak was born, having his nappy changed was the only time he used to cry. Now that he is nine weeks old each nappy change has become one of his favourite times of the day!
The first few days…
The first poo to arrive in your infants nappy is called meconium. It is more black than green in colour, similar to tar. It has the texture of say, a mixture of paste and treacle and it is almost odourless. It is made up of what your baby digested during his time in the womb, namely mucus, amniotic fluid, bile, water, epithelial cells (the cells in which nutrients or gases in your body can pass to other areas such as oxygen in your lungs passing through to your blood stream) and Lanugo (this is thin, almost translucent hair that covers your baby’s body during gestation from about 16-18 weeks and is normally shed around a month before birth).
It is quite hard to clean up as it is so thick and sticky, but persist. I think Oak still had a couple of bits stuck to his skin by the end of the first week. you should find that within the first week your baby should have passed all the meconium and his poo has changed to a much different colour, texture and smell…
Towards the end of the first week your babies poo will get lighter from its initial colour until it becomes an almost sand-like colour. It can be slightly greenish or slightly brownish. But generally a yellow shade is normal. The consistency should be similar to a mixture of say smooth peanut butter and gravy. It has a particularly sweet smell which is an added bonus of breastfeeding.
Formula fed poop
If you choose to not allow your baby to breastfeed then expect the colour to be similar to breastfed babies but it will be thicker with a consistency much closer to peanut butter and it will generally smell much stronger (a much closer smell to normal poo). Your baby will also pass stools much quicker than breastfed as formula isn’t digested as well or as much.
How often is normal?
Formula fed babies will generally poo quite often since their bodies cannot digest cows milk as readily so it moves through their digestive system much quicker. Between three and five poos a day is quite normal.
Breastfed babies poos are a little more complicated. In the first week your baby should poo fairly frequently, perhaps three times a day. But then you may find he may only poo once a day, even once a week is normal. So if four or five days have passed, do not worry, It is on it’s way. If you go beyond a week then let your health visitor know about it as your baby may be constipated.
The first few weeks
After the first week, poos will not have any particular rhythm to them so pay attention to how much your baby is feeding. Normal feeding means normal pool but sometimes your baby will ‘cluster feed’. Cluster feeding is where baby will feed almost every hour for up to a day. Or feed for multiple hours in one sitting. This happens periodically throughout the first few months of your babies life, so when this does happen, expect a bigger poo!
Onto real food!
It is up to you when you wean your baby from breastmilk to solid milk, either beyond a year is best or just allow your baby to self wean. The can be anywhere from one year to four years or sometimes more. Once you start feeding you baby mushed up vegetables and fruits, your likely to notice a drastic change in consistency and will smell much more like adult poo.
Once your baby moves onto trying solid food such as whole foods and fruits, you may notice undigested bits of food, similar to if you ate sweetcorn. This is because their digestive system hasn’t matured enough yet, but give it time! If you see undigested food over a few days, do let your GP know just in case there is an intestinal problem.
Constipation is not uncommon and there are a number of solutions. It is not as common for a breastfed baby to be constipated as breastmilk has components that act as a laxative however it is still possible. A Stool passed while constipated with usually be harder, and will appear as a number of pebble like structures. It will almost certainly cause your baby discomfort so expect uncontrollable crying once it is passed.
Diarrhoea can be a little more serious, it will have a much more watery consistency and will likely go through your baby’s nappy. It is indicative of a bacterial infection and if left unchecked can cause dehydration so let your GP know as soon as you can to get advice.
Poo that looks like or has the consistency of slime may indicate your baby is swallowing a lot of mucus! This could be caused by infection or allergy, so if it happens for a couple of days let your GP know.
Pale poo can be a sign of jaundice which is common in newborns, however if your babies poo is consistently chalky white you should talk to a GP as soon as possible as it can be a sign of liver problems.
Blood in poo
I have included three different pictures of how blood in babies poo could look like. A normal looking poo with a small amount of redness can indicate a milk protein allergy. Constipated Poo tinged with blood can indicate a small tear in the anus or haemorrhoids. Diarrhoea mixed with blood can indicate a bacterial infection. Normal poo mixed with black blood can be indicative of blood that has been digested. It will most probably look like small poppy seeds and is usually caused when a breast fed baby has been feeding from a mother with cracked and bleeding nipples.
Regardless of the reason, seeing blood in your babies poo will likely cause distress to you and your Wife or partner. Phone your GP as soon as possible.
THE POO EXPLOSION
For all the other parents out there that have been witness and had to clear up the aftermath of a poo explosion.
For you new dads or dads to be, you may need to literally roll your sleeves up for these. they can happen at any time. You will know that its happened almost immediately. The sound that will come out of your babies arse will be a squelch mess…. but don’t be fooled, wait a few minutes, it may not be over and you will thank me you kept the nappy on for ten more minutes. The clean up isn’t actually as bad as it looks like its going to be. But there are two types of explosion. The first is a quick clean up job and it has been contained but may have crept out of one leg of the nappy. The second will be the full maelstrom, out of both legs and the back, up the back, possibly in the hair (possibly out the front). They will wave legs and arms about getting it all over their hands and then face. It might even get thrown onto your face, or the walls! It may be the most horrendous thing you have ever seen in your life. But it is your baby, you love it and you just won’t care. The job needs to be done. You will likely be standing there, a wipe in hand…….Put it down my friend. Run a bath. Those wipes have no power here!
I will also warn you, always make sure that when you are out, a couple of changes of clothes and at least half a pack of wipes is necessary. So far I have had to deal with changing Oaks nappy after a poo explosion on the floor of a church and in a library. So they really do pick the worst places to go!
So how many nappies will I need?
This all depends on the size of your baby. Oak was 6 pounds 3 ounces so his first nappies looked a little big for him but they still fit. We will use averaged weights for babies here so not to confuse. Each ‘day’ should be taken as a 24 hour period.
Over 36 months you will use approximately 6000 nappies (and pull ups) give or take a few hundred. This is obviously variable between child, if you are potty training early then it can cut up to a couple of thousand nappies out of the equation. Whilst age helps here, going by weight is preferable for nappies. For the first few weeks you will know what size to use because he will be weighed by the health visitor or midwife. after that the best measure is how easy the nappy fits around the thigh closest to his or her pelvis. If it feels at all like you are over stretching, its going to be uncomfortable for baby, and you are seriously risking poo explosions (see above).
Newborn Size (stage 1) – 4-11lbs
At birth and for the first four weeks or so you will be changing nappies quite frequently, perhaps 12 times a day. You will get through roughly 350 in the first four weeks.
Stage 2 – 6-13lbs
Around the first month you will likely need to move onto the second stage of nappies. You will notice your babies nappies are a little harder to get on and you should switch over. Make sure you have been prepared and got the nappies ready for the switch. This stage will last roughly two months and you will be changing slightly less per day so 600 is a good number to aim for.
Stage 3 – 9-20lbs
This stage follows the same example as before, but with slightly less changes per day again. It will last 3-4 months and require around 600 nappies.
Stage 4 – 15-40lbs
Beyond this point physical development is more variable between babies but the stages are much more spaced out meaning you’ll be sticking with the same nappy stage for longer. This stage will require roughly 1300 nappies and you will be changing roughly six time a day. Typically this stage lasts from 7 months until 14 months old.
Stage 4+ (or 4/5) – 20-44lbs
Designed to be a secondary nappy for the upper part of development in babies, this will be the most numerously bought nappy stage at roughly 2000 nappies. This stage is designed for babies between 14 and 24 months old.
Stage 5 – 25-55lbs and Stage 6 35+lbs (750-1000 nappies after 24 months)
After stage four, usually its whatever fits best, there are also pull-ups you can use from certain weights that may or may not work for you.
Generally speaking, there is no set age your baby will move from one nappy size to the next, its completely dependant on weight and body size. Your baby could be newborn but be straight into size 3 nappies (if your baby is born that big).
What kind of nappies should I get?
This really comes down to personal preference.
There are different types of reusable nappies that you can wash and dry at home. These are the most ecologically friendly option and cost the least to use (greater initial cost, but much cheaper once considered they may be used for over a couple of years).
There are disposable nappies. These are simple and can be bought at a low cost in bulk, however, they are not very eco friendly as they can take an incredibly long time to biodegrade.
Eco-disposables are a better option than normal disposables as they are much friendlier to the environment. They break down quicker give off less methane. However, there are a few eco nappies out there and some may not be as good as others. They are also more expensive than normal disposables.
We use Naty Eco nappies at home. So far, we have had very few leaks, they are super absorbent and Oak never complains and so far after four months, not a bit of nappy rash (yet!).
Disclaimer: The nappy size guide above from Naty nappies.
Nappy changing is demanding, and you may feel frustrated some times because they might throw up two or three times which means you have to change their outfits two or three times. they might piss on you. If your unlucky they may even shit on you (always remember to wait a good ten minutes after hearing your baby do a poo before changing their nappy!). For their first few weeks they may hate having their nappy changed, usually because they are exposed and feel the cold and their only way of expressing being even slightly uncomfortable is to cry. Eventually, after a few weeks, you are gifted with your baby getting used to the routine of a nappy change. Like Oak they may even come to enjoy the time. That is why I like it. It gives me tome to bond with Oak, making stupid sounds to make him grin and blurt noises back at me.
These faces make it all worth it for me.