Your baby’s feelings of discomfort might depend on whether her digestive system is okay.

That said, infant stool varies from baby to baby, day to day. Stool can be yellow, green, or brown, with consistency from applesauce to play dough, and still be considered normal.

We can help you recognize the symptoms of diarrhea and constipation, and learn how you can help her feel better.

Baby diarrhea

When your baby’s stool suddenly becomes softer and more frequent, she might have diarrhea caused by an infection, or an inability to properly digest certain nutrients in her food.

When should you sound the alarm?

If the diarrhea becomes excessive in frequency or volume, or if you notice any of the following symptoms, call your pediatrician or healthcare professional:

  • Blood or mucus in stools
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Irritability
  • Refusal to eat
  • Decreased or dark-colored urine
  • Decreased activity

What treatment should you try?

If her diarrhea continues or worsens, talk to your healthcare professional. Switching baby formulas might help.

Baby constipation

Several factors can lead to your baby becoming constipated, having difficulty passing stool, passing stool that is hard and dry, or having bowel movements less frequently than usual:

Eating solid foods for the first time. It’s possible that some of the foods you feed your baby for the first time — such as rice cereal and oatmeal — don’t provide enough fiber to promote regular poops.

Dehydration. Her body, when not properly hydrated, absorbs fluids from whatever she eats and drinks, including fluid from waste.

Baby formulas containing palm olein oil. Breast milk contains a balanced amount of fat and protein to ensure good digestive health and development. Substitutes in baby formula, such as palm olein oil, can harden stools in some babies.

Illness or other medical conditions. Some babies develop diseases or have underlying medical conditions that result in chronic constipation. Check with your doctor if your baby has difficulty passing stools.

What can you do to ease your baby's constipation?

Exercise her legs to break up the hardened stools in her bowels, or gently massage her stomach if symptoms continue.

Do not give your baby over-the-counter stool softeners unless advised by your pediatrician or healthcare professional. Ask about switching to a formula such as Similac® Advance®, which does not contain palm olein oil.

More questions about formula feeding? See our Frequently Asked Questions.