If your baby has diarrhea, you can make food adjustments to bring her back toward balance. In the meantime, make sure that she stays hydrated by giving her enough liquids to drink. If diarrhea lasts more than two days, contact your health care provider.
On the other hand, if she is constipated with a stool consistency that is hard, dry, dark, or pellet-like, and her bowel movements are difficult to pass and less frequent than usual, adjustments to food can help loosen her bowels. Note that medications, supplements, and food with dyes can change the color of your baby’s stool.
The skin on your baby’s bottom is sensitive and delicate. Changing her diaper soon after a bowel movement or urination prevents the acidic residue from rubbing against her skin for a long period of time. Regular application of natural oils, such as sesame and olive, softens and nourishes your baby’s bottom. If your baby has a rash, you can leave her diaper off for a while to let her skin breathe and heal.
- Black—A newborn’s first bowel movement, called meconium, is black and sticky.
- Greenish—After the meconium is passed, stools change to a greenish color for a day or two.
- Bright mustard yellow—For the first few months, the poop of a breast-fed baby has a sweet smell, is a bright mustard yellow color, is loose (sometimes grainy) in texture, and usually is passed about three or four times a day.
- Yellowish brown—A bottle-fed baby passes stools more frequently than a breast-fed baby does, and the stools have a bulkier and firmer texture. The color is usually light brown, yellowish brown, or pale yellow. The smell is stronger, similar to the smell of an adult bowel movement.
- Brown—When your baby starts eating solids, the color and consistency of her stools will change, and the brown will become the normal daily color.
- Green—If your baby’s stools are green and slimy, foul- or putrid-smelling, and frequent, that is a sign of diarrhea, and it needs to be addressed. For a breast-fed baby, green stools could mean that she is getting mostly foremilk and not enough hindmilk. Make sure that one breast is emptied before feeding with the other.
- Odd colors—Food with strong colors, such as leafy greens, peas, carrots, beets, and blueberries, can affect the color of your baby’s stools. Medications, supplements, and foods with dyes can also change her stool color.
- Red or unexpected—If your baby’s stools are red, white, green, yellow, or black without any apparent reason, it could be signs of a medical problem, and it is time to check with your health care professional.
Diapering is a big part of your baby’s early life when you consider her comfort and health, your time, and the cost involved. You will change her diaper seven or eight times a day for two to three years. Therefore, the method of diapering you choose will impact the day-to-day life of both you and your baby.
I am partial to cloth diapers. I used cloth on both [my daughters] Emi and Mari. Cloth diapers were the first products that I sold in my business. I even started a diaper service and washed the diapers myself—that was a messy business! I chose cloth diapers for my babies because I wanted to use natural fibers on their skin, because cloth diapers were less expensive than disposables, and because cloth diapers made less of an environmental impact than disposables.
The best way to support your toddler as she moves from wearing diapers to using the potty is to allow her to set the schedule for this milestone. Toilet training is a developmental process that warrants its own timetable and requires physical and mental readiness. If you try to rush your toddler before she is ready, you both may become frustrated. Trust that your child will use the potty successfully and consistently when she is ready. Most children potty-train between two and three years of age.
Physically, your child’s bladder needs the muscle control to hold urine. You will know this has occurred when she has fewer wet diapers during the day. She must also have the fine-motor skills to undress and dress herself.
Mentally, your child needs to be able to recognize and acknowledge the feeling that she has to go. She must be able to follow and remember directions on how to use the potty. Mental readiness also includes showing an interest in using the toilet and in changing from diapers to regular underwear. Children can learn from watching their parents use the toilet.
Once your child demonstrates that she is ready and wants to use the potty, you can support her with directions and positive reinforcement. A daily routine of setting aside a time to sit on the toilet can help build a habit of healthy elimination. Let her lead the way, just as you did when she learned to sit up, talk, and walk. Potty training is a process with false attempts, failures, and progressively more successes. Try to be patient, prepared, and positive.
Share your potty training experiences in the comments below!