Watery Poop in Newborn Babies: Causes & Treatment

Watery Stool in Newborn Babies – Is It Normal?

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Arti Sharma (Paediatrician)
View more Paediatrician Our Panel of Experts

New mothers can often be nervous about things that discomfort their little one. For example, often mothers worry about the colour and consistency of their infant’s stool. A change in colour and consistency can cause them to feel burdened and stressed. Here we discuss what it means when an infant has watery stool and whether it is normal.

Is It Normal for A Newborn’s Poop to Be Watery?

Newborn babies do not have a fully developed intestine, and hence they do not absorb food very well. As a result, most of it is passed through the stool. Once absorption improves, the stool becomes thicker and reduces in frequency. Therefore, it is normal for infants to pass frequent and watery stool. A healthy yet watery stool is yellowish-brown coloured and similar to the consistency of mustard. Sometimes the stool has seed-like particles that are generally white. There is, however, a need to be watchful so that parents do not miss any signs of diarrhoea or other concerning symptoms.

What are the Causes of Watery Stool in A Newborn Baby?

There are multiple reasons why a breastfed baby has watery poop. The primary cause is that their developing intestine does not absorb too much and most of it is passed through the stool. Some of the other reasons are:

  • Consumption of dairy products by the breastfeeding mother
  • Sugary foods included in the diet of a breastfeeding mother
  • Children who swallow excess saliva while they are teething
  • An infection accompanied by fever or other symptoms

When Is a Newborn’s Watery Poop Not Normal?

Watery poop in an infant is a cause for worry when you notice symptoms of diarrhoea. Diarrhoea will cause the stool to be very runny and also bowel movements will become more frequent than what is expected during a 24 hour period.

When Is a Newborn’s Watery Poop Not Normal?

How to Know If the Watery Poop Is Diarrhoea?

The following signs are indicative of an infant having diarrhoea:

  • The stool is unusually runny.
  • Bowel movement intervals have reduced and the number of times motion is passed spikes up.
  • The stool gushes out in propulsive spurts akin to an explosion.

How to Treat Newborn Baby’s Watery Stool?

The treatment for watery stool would depend on what is causing it to be watery. Dietary modifications and prescription medication should help alleviate the condition. Certain helpful tips that can be followed are:

  • Do not stop breastfeeding. Continue feeding at intervals as suggested by your baby’s paediatrician.
  • To prevent dehydration, give the infant an Oral Rehydration solution or electrolyte.
  • Feed more often but in smaller quantities if diarrhoea is accompanied by vomiting.
  • A combination of diarrhoea and vomiting can be a sign of infection which can take a foul turn rapidly if dehydration is unchecked.
  • Formula or bottle-fed babies with a consistently watery stool for a period beyond two weeks should be taken for a consultation.

When to Call A Doctor?

Diarrhoea and watery stool in infants usually resolve on their own within a day or two or a couple of weeks at best. It is necessary to be vigilant and take your infant to the doctor should they display any of these signs:

  • Mucus in the stool: The stool will look very runny, and the excess fluid would form a mucus-like-ring around the stool.
  • Change in colour and odour: The stool may turn a shade of green and be accompanied by a foul smell. It could also look frothy at times. Such green watery poop in a newborn requires a consultation with a doctor.
  • Blood in stool: The stool may contain spots or streaks of blood and could be accompanied by fever, indicating an infection.
  • Dehydration: Signs of dehydration include less wet diapers, dry mouth, sunken eyes, lethargy, or dry eyes when crying.
  • Fever: A temperature above 102˚F in infants aged 3 to 12 months and above 100.4˚F in infants below three months of age is considered a fever that warrants a consultation.

Watery Stool in Babies - When to Worry

Expert recommendations suggest that a newborn’s poop is more watery for a formula-fed baby as compared with one that is breastfed because the mother’s milk prevents harmful bacteria from multiplying. Implement thorough sterilisation techniques and proper hand-washing habits when using a bottle to feed your infant. Ultimately, remember to stay calm through your infant’s storm so that you both can come out wearing that precious smile!

Also Read: Baby Poop: What’s Normal & What’s Not

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