Finding blood in your baby’s diaper can be quite stressful, and it can also be a bit difficult to identify what is causing it.
Let’s take a look at the most common reasons for blood in a baby’s diaper and what to do about it.
My daughter-in-law just called, and her daughter, 6 1/2 months old, had some blood from her vagina after she changed her diaper. Is this normal, or what could the cause be? She is quite upset right now.
Reasons For Blood In Infant’s Stool or Blood in a Baby’s Diaper
I’m not surprised your daughter-in-law is concerned. She could be imagining all sorts of things, and finding blood in a baby’s diaper can certainly be stressful. It can sometimes be difficult to know the source of the blood when it is found in the diaper.
Here are some reasons why a baby may have blood in the diaper:
A 6-month-old baby may be constipated since this is around the time that they are being introduced to solids. Although many fruits and vegetables are not likely to cause constipation, some foods, including rice cereal, are common reasons for constipation.
One thing that usually happens when they are constipated is that their poop can be very hard, and they have to strain to push their poop out. A baby’s anus is quite sensitive since the skin around it is very delicate. A hard poop may cause a break in the anus or anal fissure, causing minimal bleeding. There are several other reasons why a baby can have blood in their poop too, so if you think that’s where the bleeding comes from, read this info on blood in a baby’s poop here.
If the blood is related to constipation, the blood in the diaper will comprise reddish streaks of blood.
However, it is also possible that your baby may be eating too many tomatoes or other fibrous vegetables, which may cause reddish streaks in their poop – not related to blood at all.
2. Supplemental Iron
Babies given supplemental iron can also manifest with dark stools. The doctor may ask for supplements that are being given to the baby during consultation. This is nothing to worry about. Iron usually causes discoloration of the poop.
3. Newborn hormones
Newborn babies can have vaginal bleeding in their first few days of life. A decrease in maternal hormones commonly causes this. This usually subsides when their level of hormones stabilizes. However, this is not likely in a 6-month-old baby.
4. Blood in the urine
Blood in the urine can happen due to infections. If your baby is fussy, cries a lot without apparent reason, has a distended abdomen, febrile episodes, and has irregular urination (not peeing as usual), then you should call your doctor. Your baby may be experiencing a urinary tract infection. Usually, the doctor has a workup on her urine and will prescribe antibiotics after further investigation.
You can read more about blood in the urine here.
5. A wound or straddle injury
This is fairly common in toddlers as they are more mobile and active. A straddle injury happens when a child falls and lands on her genital area over a hard object, such as a bike frame, an armchair rest, or a side of the bathtub. But this is not common in babies at 6 months of age.
How active is your granddaughter? If she crawls around and climbs, maybe she didn’t have a nappy on and had a minor injury.
6. Diaper rash
Diaper rash happens when the baby’s diaper is constantly wet and left on for an extended period. This can also happen when babies have allergic reactions to diapers. The rash can be red and itchy, and the baby may scratch it, which may cause friction on the skin and cause it to bleed.
It can be hard to see where it has come from, it may look like it was from the vagina, but babies kick around a lot and wriggle, and it could have come from elsewhere. This is nothing serious and can be remedied with a diaper rash cream. You can read more about treating diaper rash here.
7. A vaginal infection
A vaginal infection, caused by transferring the bacteria living in the gut into the genital area, may also cause bleeding. This may be caused by poor hygiene or frequent touching of their genital area. Of course, dirty diapers can definitely also transfer bacteria from the stools to the vagina.
Washing the genital area, practicing proper hand hygiene, and frequently and immediately changing dirty diapers can eliminate the occurrence of a vaginal infection.
8. A foreign object or abuse
A foreign object, such as a toy part or a piece of toilet paper, is also known to cause vaginal bleeding in baby girls. Sexual abuse of the child could also result in bleeding. Hopefully, that’s completely irrelevant to your grandchild’s situation, but you can read about signs of sexual abuse in babies and toddlers here.
Finally, here are two quite serious reasons for blood in a baby’s diaper. These are unlikely in the situation you describe, but since quite a lot of parents read this article, I find it important to mention these reasons too.
9. Hemorrhagic Diarrhea
A baby experiencing hemorrhagic diarrhea (caused by E. coli) or necrotizing enterocolitis can present with poop with blood in their diapers. This is extremely serious as this is a sign of infection. Any baby whose poop is watery in consistency and poops more than the usual number of episodes per day, accompanied by fever, vomiting, dry mouth, or eyes when crying, will need urgent medical attention. Call your doctor as soon as possible when this happens. We don’t want your baby to dehydrate.
10. Upper Gastrointestinal Bleeding
Dark blood in a baby’s stool or poop may indicate an upper gastrointestinal bleed. This may occur after a traumatic injury to the esophagus or throat. A choking incident of a foreign object may cause this injury. This is a medical emergency that warrants a visit to the emergency room.
Takeaway: Blood In A Baby’s Diaper
As you can see, there are many different reasons for blood in a baby’s diaper.
I would get the bleeding checked by a doctor in case there is some infection or injury. A doctor will be the best person to diagnose anything in this case. And if the bleeding is apparent and non-stop, and is accompanied by other signs and symptoms, bring the baby to your doctor immediately.
Good luck; your daughter-in-law is lucky to have such great support from you,
Wishing you well,
More Babies With Blood In Their Diapers
- Blood in a baby’s stool: Color chart
- Is it normal that there’s a little blood in my baby’s diaper?
- Baby’s First Days: Bowel Movements & Urination
Have you ever found blood in your baby’s diaper or have some tips to share? Add your comments below.
Paula Dennholt founded Easy Baby Life in 2006 and has been a passionate parenting and pregnancy writer since then. Her parenting approach and writing are based on studies in cognitive-behavioral models and therapy for children and her experience as a mother and stepmother. Life as a parent has convinced her of how crucial it is to put relationships before rules. She strongly believes in positive parenting and a science-based approach.
Paula cooperates with a team of pediatricians who assist in reviewing and writing articles.