Stool color in children

Updated April 17, 2017

Brown is the universal colour for stools. Any other variation of this hue may cause concern for parents. Before overreacting, consider your child's diet, the most common reason behind discolouration. Are there any foods or medicine that could contribute to the discolouring? Most of the time, the cause is benign. In rare cases, however, white, green, yellow or red faeces could be a sign of a medical problem.

Yellow to White Stools

Consumption of a lot of milk can turn a child's stool a yellowish to whitish hue. Certain medications for the stomach problems like Pepto-Bismol may change the colour of the stool. If the stool smells foul and appears greasy, it may be a sign of coeliac disease, a disease characterised by the intolerance for gluten, which is found in foods containing wheat and other grains.

Green Stools

Eating green items can sometimes turn stool from brown to green. This includes food colouring or green leafy vegetables like spinach. Green stool can also occur with the excretion of iron into the stool. When combined with a liquid texture, it could a sign of diarrhoea.

Black Stools

Benign reasons for dark, black-coloured stool include eating black liquorice, blueberries or grape juice. Unfortunately, it could also be a sign of internal bleeding from the stomach area like ulcers. Other reasons behind black stools include iron supplements and sometimes medicines containing bismuth subsalicylate.

Red Stools

Red food dyes typically turn stools red. Foods with food dyes can alter your child's faeces. Fruits and vegetables like beets and cranberries may also colour the stool. If you notice red streaks, this symptom of bleeding originates from the lower gastrointestinal tract. An anal fissure is the most common reason. A difficult bowel movement is often to blame. Small amounts of blood in the stool may be normal for children.


If your child acts sick, if there's no explanation for the change in stool colour or if you're simply concerned, contact your child's paediatrician. Bring a sample of your child's stool for analysis. Wearing gloves, loosely place layer of cling film over the toilet. After you've collected the faeces, place it in a sealable plastic bag. The physician will test the sample for signs of allergies, infections and digestive problems. He will also look for blood.

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About the Author

Elizabeth Streeter has been writing professionally since 2000. She specializes in subjects ranging from how to live a happier life to potentially harmful food and drug-related interactions. Streeter has written for "Family Circle," "Woman's Day," "Natural Health" and "Fitness." Streeter holds a Bachelor of Science in nutrition science from Auburn University and is currently working towards a Master of Arts in psychology.