Breastfed baby poop that is watery and runny… is this really normal?
Let’s take a look at normal runny poop for breastfed babies vs diarrhea and what may cause the watery, runny poop.
Is it really normal with runny poop in a breastfed baby? My baby is 8 weeks old and fully breastfed. Ever since she was born, her poop stays watery. Is this normal breastfed baby poop? There is no consistency in her stool. Once in a great while, there is.
Breastfed Baby Poop Watery and Runny- When is it Normal and Not?
Normal Runny Poop in a Breastfed Baby
What you describe is probably normal runny poop in a breastfed baby. The above picture shows typical normal breastfed baby poop.
However, breastfed baby poop can actually have quite varying colors and consistencies and still be completely normal.
The pooping frequency can vary a lot too – from many times per day to not at all for one or two weeks!
Here is what normal breastmilk poop usually looks like:
A breastfed baby’s poop can vary in color. It is usually yellow, but it can also have a greenish color, and this is normal too.
Breast milk is composed of small particles and most often, the baby’s gut absorbs every nutrient that comes from breast milk; hence, it is normal for breastmilk poop to be runny in consistency, sometimes bordering to watery. It may resemble diarrhea, but this is quite normal for exclusively breastfed babies.
Sometimes, the poop may have some texture in it, be curdled or seedy. It varies from child to child and over time.
At around 2 months, many breastfed babies have enough runny poop to shoot up all the way to the back of their neck if you are unlucky!
If your daughter is happy and follows her growth curves, everything is likely to be fine. But if your baby seems to be in pain, if there is mucus in the poop, or she is not gaining weight, you might want to discuss it with a pediatrician.
So to conclude – watery, runny poop in a breastfed baby is most often completely normal!
Runny Poop in Breastfed Babies – Not Normal
But then, when is runny breastfed baby poop a sign that something is not right?
Well, even if runny poop in breastfed babies is considered normal, there are, of course, situations when it is not:
1. Diarrhea due to a stomach bug or a cold
It can be a bit tricky to know the difference between normal runny breastfed poop and diarrhea.
If a baby’s stools suddenly increase sharply or become much more watery, it may be that the baby has diarrhea due to some stomach bug or a cold.
Other signs, in such a case, would be that the baby has a fever, poor appetite, or simply appears to be ill.
2. Diarrhea due to Milk Protein Allergy
Even though you breastfeed, it is possible that your baby is having watery stools due to milk protein allergy. This is because the milk protein is be passed over to the baby through breastmilk.
Some of the signs that your baby has milk protein allergy are:
- Crying a lot, colicky
- Discomfort after feeding
- Restless sleep
- Diarrhea, or constipation
- Cold-like symptoms, wheezing
- Itchy, red eyes
- Dry skin or a diaper rash
- Not gaining weight despite feeding
- Increase in pooping frequency
As you see above, milk protein allergy can also manifest with respiratory symptoms (shortness of breath, cough, wheezes that can be heard on auscultation), which may not be the first thing you consider in such a case. Call your doctor if any of these symptoms are manifested by your baby.
Read more about milk protein allergy in babies and toddler here.
3. Diarrhea in Breastfed Babies – Rare Reasons
There are other, often more severe, but rare reasons, why a baby may have diarrhea for a long period of time. This is not something to be particularly worried about, but to be aware of, if your baby isn’t growing, appears ill, or is not hitting her milestones.
Chronic diarrhea can have many causes, including some of these:
Bacterial or parasitic infection
Bacterial or parasitic infections are rare in developed countries. Where do you live? These also occur when there is a breach in the sterility of the feeding bottles (for pumped breastmilk), but again, when parents are careful, this is rare.
Chronic inflammation of the digestive tract
Chronic inflammation of the digestive tract, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease – these are extremely rare in infancy. When an infant presents with abdominal cramps and bloody stools, ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease are less likely to be considered for their age.
Chronic, nonspecific diarrhea of childhood
This is a condition that usually occurs in children ages 1 to 3, so your daughter is most likely too young for this.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Irritable bowel syndrome – this commonly occurs in older children. Signs and symptoms include bloating, chronic or intermittent diarrhea, among others. In children younger than 4 months of age, the symptoms are usually that of a colicky baby, but then again, this is rare for infants.
Tumors in the digestive tract
Tumors in the digestive tract – the most common abdominal mass in this age group is usually benign and originates from the kidney. The most common presentation is blood in urine, abdominal enlargement, and fever. For digestive tract tumors, common causes include mesenteric cysts. Management of these includes imaging and will usually depend on the organ from which it originated from.
Again, extremely rare.
Hirschsprung’s disease is a condition that results from missing nerve cells in the muscles of part or all of the baby’s colon. This is considered once a newborn failed to have any bowel movement for the first 48 hours. The belly becomes swollen, and the baby is constipated for days. Treatment includes the removal of the diseased part of the colon.
Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease. The very first sign is when the baby fails to pass out meconium (the baby’s very first poop) as it becomes too thick to pass through his colon. Later on, the infant fails to gain weight and is commonly fussy.
Zinc deficiency can also lead to diarrhea. Zinc deficiency can be inherited, acquired, or maybe due to a comorbidity causing malabsorption (i.e., cystic fibrosis). In some cases, the transfer of zinc through the breastmilk is impaired.
One of the symptoms is diarrhea.
If you recognize any of the above symptoms of diarrhea, talk to your baby’s healthcare provider immediately.
Now, this was a long list of possible concerns, but again, if your baby is happy, thriving, and is reaching her milestones at par with age, then her runny poop is just normal.
Hope this helps,
- My Baby’s Poop Is Not Seedy, Should I worry?
- Can A 7 Week Baby Have Diarrhea?
- Newborn Baby With Slimy Poop
- Zinc Transfer to the Breastfed Infant
- Cystic Fibrosis Symptoms and Treatment
- Hirschsprung’s disease
- Abdominal Mass in an Infant
- Pediatric Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Does Inflammatory Bowel Disease Develop in Infants?
- Pediatric Crohn’s Disease
- Diarrhea (Baby on Breastmilk)