Know about your baby’s gut health through their stools
While babies do not come with any instruction manual, they still have a way of making themselves understood. As babies can’t communicate verbally, be prepared to interpret behavioral signs that may accompany gastrointestinal problems like colic, diarrhea or constipation. As a rule, changes in behavior like fussiness, irritability, refusing to feed and crying occur in conjunction with other symptoms like bowel movement issues or stomach pain.
A parent can often get a pretty good idea regarding the health of a baby by simply examining the contents of the baby’s diapers. Stool color and consistency can give you a wealth of information regarding the functioning of your baby’s digestive tract.
During the initial months, the consistency will be soft to runny and mustard yellow in color. The large quantities of liquid content in the stools are because babies get their nutrition only from breastmilk during the first six months. Meanwhile babies on formula feed may have stools of a more solid consistency. Research has pointed out that stool consistency has a strong association with the richness and diversity of gut flora. stools generally indicate a healthier gut.
With breast milk being the most well-balanced source of nutrition for an infant, it plays an important role in establishing a healthy gut and thereby building immunity. Oligosaccharides present in human milk have been found to have a prebiotic effect, which helps in fostering the growth of beneficial microorganisms in the gut. A well-established gut microbiota helps reduce incidence of sickness by boosting immunity and decreases usage of antibiotics.
There is also evidence supporting the fact that prebiotics such as GOS (galacto-oligosaccharides) and FOS (fructo-oligosaccharide) have below positive effects -
- Significantly lower gastrointestinal infections.
- Reduced instances of falling sick.
- Lower incidences of allergies like skin allergy.
- Better stool consistency and frequency.
If your baby appears happy, is feeding, doesn’t have an increasingly protruding abdomen, seems satisfied after feeding and is gaining weight, then there is nothing to be worried about. However do seek help from your health care professional if you see the following:
- Your baby is passing black, red, white, grey or green frothy stools. These may be symptoms of illness.
- If your baby is passing hard or dry stools it could indicate constipation. However if it is accompanied with vomiting, a dry mouth, irritability and refusal to feed, it requires immediate attention.
- Extremely watery and frequent stools could indicate diarrhea.
- Your baby isn’t gaining weight.
- While mucus in stools is common in the initial days, persistent mucus in stools could indicate improper digestion or be a sign of infection.
In general, it is always a good idea to keep an eye on your baby’s stools as it can be helpful in identifying any health problems which a baby can’t otherwise tell you about.