Parents often worry their baby's stools aren't normal. One common concern is when a baby's stools seem mucousy. By carefully observing your child and his bowel movements, you can help your paediatrician diagnose the problem. But before you call your doctor, here are a few things you ought to know.
"Normal" Baby Stools
Baby poop varies greatly from infant to infant, and there is a wide range of normalcy. Breastfed babies often have mustard-coloured stools that can look seedy or runny. However, what Mom eats greatly affects how baby's stools look, so it's not uncommon to see colours ranging from bright pea green to orange to tan and brown. Formula-fed babies usually have mustard or tan stools, but can have stools in the same variety of colours, also.
Has There Been a Change?
In general, there's little reason to worry if your infant is healthy, doesn't appear uncomfortable, and appears to have mucous in her stools. However, if your child's stools change suddenly -- and for more than one or two bowel movements -- consider calling your paediatrician. And if mucousy stools accompany changes in behaviour (like frequent crying), there is more than one symptom your doctor should know about.
If your baby's stools are green and mucousy, it's possible your child has a virus. The change in stool colour and/or texture is due to abnormal absorption of nutrients in the intestines. Not uncommonly, this type of stool is the only symptom of a virus, but it should disappear within a few days.
All the saliva your teething baby's body makes may irritate the intestines, also leading to malabsorption of nutrients. This may or may not be accompanied by a diaper rash and drooling.
Of greater concern is when mucousy stools also show signs of blood. Blood may make all or part of the stools dark brown or blackish, or it may show up as streaks of red. A small amount of red in the stool can come from a small tear in the rectal area caused by a bowel movement; this usually disappears within 24 hours or so. Dark stools may indicate bleeding in the GI tract, which is why it's always a good idea to call your paediatrician and save a sample in a Ziploc bag.
Typically, mucous in a baby's stools is nothing to worry about and does not require treatment; in most cases, it will go away with time. If your baby develops diaper rash, treat it with an over the counter diaper rash cream, Aquaphor, and possibly some baby powder cream (not baby powder). Changing your child's diapers as soon as he has a bowel movement can also greatly help.
In some persistent cases, your paediatrician might recommend switching formulas or making changes to your baby's diet (or, if you're breastfeeding, your own diet).