Why is My Child’s Poop Black (or Red, Green, Yellow…)?

Let’s talk about kid poop. 💩 Green poop, yellow poop orange poop, purple poop. Everybody poops. When should we worry about poop? Have you ever seen a poop that looks wormy? 🐛 It was probably from last night’s banana 🍌 that you fed your baby.  Think banana bread. There. Now stop googling worm poop!

Let’s talk worrisome poop. I don’t care about green poop, or the rainbow 🌈 poop 💩 your kid will have the day after his first birthday 🎂 (frosting anyone?)  We don’t need to see a sample of last night’s brown poop or squishy yellow poop. We know corn 🌽 comes out whole, and so do seeds and berries.

In kids, we really care about white poop, red poop or black poop.

Black Stools in Children

Now black poop has to be black. Think black crayon🖍 . If it looks like coffee ☕️ grounds, we should talk. Dark poop means that there can be bleeding in your digestive tract.. The darker it is, the higher up the in the GI tract the bleeding was likely to occur.

If you noticed poop looking like black tar, like coffee grounds, or black spots or specs then it’s time to discuss this with the medical provider. If you ate blueberries as a snack or black beans for dinner, then take a deep breath and look again. If you still think the poop is black, and isn’t particles of food, then bring that babe 👶🏼 in and we can test the poop… this time save the sample!

Kids and Constipation

Kids love milk 🥛 and cheese 🧀 .  This makes kids constipated. Lots of hard large poops can cause kids to get little tears around their bum, called anal fissures. These are common in preschool and toddler aged children.  When a child has an anal fissure we can sometimes see little streaks of blood in their poop. Blood in the poop can be very scary. Take a deep breath and take a look around. If you see a little crack (on their bum hole) and you know their poops have been hard, this is likely the source of blood. Changing their diet by introducing more fruits and fiber, while giving them less dairy, can help immensely to soften up poops.
To soften stools in children, think “P” fruits– 🍑 , pears, plums, prunes. A little Aquaphor or Vaseline applied topically can help soften up the skin too.  If you do these things and still see blood after a day or two, have someone check this out at your doctor’s office. If it’s chunks of tomato 🍅 skin, no worries. We won’t judge. 😳If you see a lot of blood, blood filling the toilet bowl, the diaper, or dripping blood, you should head right in to be seen by your medical provider.  🚑

Red Stools in Children

Red jelly poop and a cranky baby can be serious. Did you drop a glob of raspberry jelly on the diaper? Yes? Phew. Then relax! 🤣 Does your baby cry off and on all day, seem uncomfortable, not herself, or did you notice a jelly-like reddish poop? Then it’s time to head on over to see your doctor or head to the emergency room.

Poop that looks like jelly can Indicate that your baby has intussusception, which is basically one part of your intestine telescoping into another causing a blockage. It’s very rare and is most common between the ages of six-months and three-years.  The pain usually comes and goes. If this is what you are seeing. Get that cranky kid looked at 😫

Speaking of cranky babies…

Have you noticed red specks or blood in your newborn baby’s poop? She isn’t that happy little bundle you once imagined? Your sweet smelling little human is spitting up and now smells like Swiss cheese? First remember that “all babies cry”. You can always put that babe down in his crib while you take a few deep cleansing breaths or take a quick break, even if she is crying.  Never shake a baby. Call a friend! Friends love holding babies! OK back to poop!!!

Your newborn baby has red specks in her poop. Newborns don’t eat skittles so I think it’s time for a visit with your primary care provider, your baby might have a milk protein allergy or sensitivity to whatever they are drinking. If you are breastfeeding, it’s possible you will need to change your diet. Formula or breastmilk should be the only drinks you give your newborn. Fed is best. Feed that baby but let’s get that pooped checked. Bring a poop sample, or wait 5 min, you know that newborn is about to poop again! Your provider can test the poop for blood and figure out what’s making your baby such a sad mess.

White Stools in Children– Why It’s a Problem

Last let’s talk white poop. The liver makes a dark-colored digestive aid called bile which helps gives poop 💩 its brownish color.  White poop can indicate that this bile isn’t being made, or isn’t reaching the poop. Problems with the liver, small intestine and gallbladder can cause the poop to look white and needs to be addressed by a medical provider right away.  But first, let’s take a closer look at the poop.

Is the poop really white? Or just light brown or yellow?  Did your child drink massive amounts of milk 🥛 yesterday? Could it be the new antibiotic she is on or the antacid he just started?  Don’t panic, worrisome white poop isn’t common. If it really looks white (think white crayon) call your provider and save that poop.

Whatever you do, don’t search on Google for poop.

Heck, just snap a pic and show us!  Nurse-1-1- can help answer your questions about kids’ stool colors, and a range of other health issues as well.  

You know your child best. If you are worried that something is wrong, it’s ok to get checked out! You are the parent after all.  You’ve got this! You are doing a great job. One day you will miss talking about their poop💩!

Nurse-1-1 Health Center is written by nurses in a straight to the point type of way to provide basic health information. We get a lot of people like you searching online for answers to health concerns or looking for a hotline to ask a nurse a few questions. We can help. We put some info here for you to find while searching through all that other dry, scary medical information online. Stop that. Read our posts, or chat with us. Not medical advice or a replacement for medical care but see what we have to say and hopefully it will stop you from scaring yourself any more than you already have. We can help.