Recently, my daughter’s sitter approached me very concerned. J practices early elimination communication, but since this person didn’t know how to read J’s signals, she had pooped in her diaper. Her sitter had seen then the poop and was very worried that it didn’t look “normal.”
So I thought it would be a very good idea to go over what is normal in the world of poop and what isn’t, particularly for a baby that eats solid food.
For starters, if your baby is eating solid foods, it is totally, 100% normal for there to be pieces of undigested food in their feces. Often, I am reminded of what all my daughter has eaten when I change her diaper if you catch my drift. (Random aside… dragonfruit=the worst). I call being able to discern what your child has eaten as “reading” their diaper. The ability to be able to do this is true even for babies that eat a mixture of solids and purées.
So being able to read a diaper is not a sign, in and of itself, that something is wrong with your child. If any of the following signs were also present, I would be concerned:
- a large increase in the frequency of poops
- the color of the poop, particularly if it is pale and clay-colored
- watery stool
- blood in the stool
- lethargic child
- complaints or indication of stomach pain
So why is undigested food normal?
Does this mean that your baby isn’t chewing their food properly and you should give up on baby-led weaning? Or does it mean that your baby isn’t absorbing nutrients correctly?
No, neither one of these is correct. What is causing your ability to see food particles is simply your baby’s bodily process. Adults who are toilet trained poop once a day and some people poop even less than that (which is not good, FYI). So when you suppress your poop and only poop once a day, your food waste sits in your colon. The bacteria and digestive enzymes that live there then digests part of the food, making what you have eaten indistinguishable. Babies, on the other hand, poop when they need to, leaving very little time for their food to sit in their colon. This keeps the food waste from being broken down, making it easier for you to then tell what’s what in their diaper.
The same is true for toddler aged, potty-trained kids as well. In fact, it is normal to be able to “read” your child’s poop for several years. As long as they are continuing to develop and flourish in other areas, it is not a cause for alarm. And they will eventually outgrow it.
As for my daughter, and her poopy diaper? The sitter said, “Well… it looked, it looked like tomatoes!” Yes, I am sure it did look like tomatoes. Do you know why? Because J is going through a phase right now and wants to eat a pint of cherry tomatoes in a single sitting. And I am hoping that she will eventually outgrow that too.
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