toddler poop guide

Toddler Poop Chart: The Ultimate Guide

Sarah Glinski, RD 

Written by: Sarah Glinski, RD 

Updated: June 2nd, 2024

Everybody poops, yet many of us struggle to have conversations about it. But this shouldn’t be the case, and learning to talk about poop is important to our overall health. When it comes to toddlers, their poop color and consistency can provide clues regarding their diet and potential digestive and liver problems. But how do you know what’s normal and what’s not?

Enter the toddler poop chart. This chart, which details the different colours and consistencies that you can expect to see in toddler poop, can help you determine if what you’re seeing is normal or if it’s time to see a doctor.

Read on to learn about the colours and consistencies of toddler poop that are normal, how often your toddler should be pooping, plus tips for managing constipation and diarrhea in toddlers.

What is Toddler Poop, and How is it Different from Adult Poop?

Toddler poop comes in a variety of colours and consistencies, which is often influenced by what they eat. Studies show that poops become harder as children get older. While a young toddler who is still getting started with solids and is still breastfeeding may have softer poops, older toddlers who are eating all solids will have harder, more adult-like poops.

Does a Toddler’s Diet Alter Their Poop?

What your toddler eats can impact the colour and consistency of their poop. In many cases, food dyes or specific foods can cause changes in poop colour. For example, spinach can turn poop green, while beets can turn poop red.

Toddler Poop Chart

You can use this toddler poop chart to determine whether your toddler’s poop colour and consistency is cause for concern.

Toddler Poop Colours

Toddler poop comes in many different colours. On the toddler poop chart, green, brown, and yellow poop are considered normal, while red, black, and white poop usually indicate something is wrong and that it’s time to call your child’s doctor.

Brown

Browns of many different shades are normal for toddlers and should not be worried about unless accompanied by a change in poop consistency, such as diarrhea.

Yellow

Yellow poop is normal for toddlers and shouldn’t be a cause for concern unless accompanied by a change in poop consistency. An exception to this rule is pale yellow poop, which can indicate a liver blockage. If your child has pale yellow poop, you should take them to the doctor immediately.

Green

Green poop is normal for toddlers and is most often caused by bile or certain foods, such as green Jell-O, green fruit snacks, or spinach and other leafy vegetables. While dark green poop is normal, it can often be mistaken for black poop. It’s important to differentiate between green and black poop because black poop could indicate bleeding in the digestive tract, while green poop is normal.

Red

Many foods, drinks, and medications can make a toddler’s poop red. When poop is red due to a food, such as beets and artificial fruit juice, it’s not a cause for concern. However, red poop can also be a sign of gastrointestinal bleeding. Bright red poop typically indicates bleeding near the end of the digestive tract, such as the rectum. If your toddler has red poop and it’s not caused by food or medication, it should prompt a visit to the doctor.

Black

Black poop can be caused by various foods and medications, such as licorice, blueberries, iron supplements, and bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol). However, most of the time, black poop indicates bleeding earlier in the digestive tract, such as the stomach or small intestine. If your toddler has black poop and it’s not caused by food or medication, it could indicate bleeding and should be investigated by a doctor.

White

In rare cases, your child may develop white, chalky grey, or pale yellow poop. This can be caused by a blockage in the liver. It’s important to see your doctor immediately if this occurs, as early treatment is essential to prevent permanent damage to the liver.

Toddler Poop Consistency

Toddler poop consistency can be rated based on the Bristol Stool Form Scale. This scale, which ranges from one (hardest poop) to seven (softest poop), can be useful for identifying potential digestive issues. Studies show that about 10.5% of children aged 0 to 4 experience hard poop, while about 6% in this age group experience soft poop.

Hard Poop (Type 1 and 2)

Hard poop, which may resemble a bunch of grapes or rabbit droppings, is difficult to pass and could indicate that your toddler has constipation.

Formed Poop (Type 3 and 4)

Formed poop, which may resemble corn on the cob or sausage, is ideal and should be easy to pass.

Loose Poop (Type 5)

Loose poop may resemble chicken nuggets. It has clear-cut edges and is passed easily.

Diarrhea (Type 6 and 7)

Diarrhea, which may resemble porridge or gravy (liquid with no solid pieces), could be an indication of a gastrointestinal infection, a high-sugar diet, food allergies, lactose intolerance, or intestinal problems like celiac disease or inflammatory bowel disease.

How Often Should Your Toddler Poop?

According to research, kids aged 0 to 4 poop on average about 11 times per week. Ideally, children should have at least one soft bowel movement daily. A child is considered constipated if they poop fewer than three times per week.

Generally, children poop less often as they get older. This is likely due to a variety of factors, such as how often they eat, what they eat, changes in their gut microbiota, and changes in stomach emptying time.

Foods to Help Your Toddler Poop

Constipation is often caused by not eating enough fibre and not drinking enough fluids. Ensure your child drinks plenty of water and load up on high-fibre foods to keep things moving. Here are some high-fibre foods that may help your toddler poop:

When increasing your child’s fibre intake, do so slowly to avoid unwanted side effects like gas and bloating.

Exercise can also help prevent constipation. Ensure your toddler is getting at least two hours of playtime daily.

What You Feed a Toddler with Diarrhea

In many cases of diarrhea, your toddler can continue eating normally, and the diarrhea will usually go away on its own. They may do better eating smaller, frequent meals throughout the day than three larger ones.

If the diarrhea persists, bland foods may help. Here are some foods to feed your toddler with diarrhea:

If your toddler has diarrhea, water won’t be enough to rehydrate them because it doesn’t have the correct balance of electrolytes like sodium and potassium. If your child shows signs of dehydration, they should be given oral rehydration solutions, which are available over-the-counter at most grocery stores and pharmacies.

Diarrhea can be caused by many things, such as a gastrointestinal infection, a high-sugar diet, or antibiotics. To prevent antibiotic-associated diarrhea, consider giving your toddler a probiotic designed to prevent it, such as Culturelle® Kids Daily Probiotic Chewables. These chewables contain Lactobacillus rhamnosusGG (LGG®), a probiotic strain shown in research to effectively prevent antibiotic-associated diarrhea in children.

When a Parent Should Seek Guidance from a Healthcare Provider

While a variety of different poop colours and consistencies are normal for toddlers, certain situations should warrant medical attention. They include:

In the above cases, seeking medical attention is important, as these symptoms can indicate an infection, digestive disorder, or liver problem.

In Summary

Toddler poop comes in a variety of colours and consistencies. By using a toddler poop chart, you can determine what’s normal and what’s not. If your toddler’s poop is red, black, or white and is not due to food they’ve eaten or medications they’ve taken, it should prompt a visit to the doctor, as these colours can indicate gastrointestinal bleeding or liver problems.

toddler poop chart infographic 1
toddler poop chart infographic with consistency
toddler poop chart infographic tips

References

  1. Baaleman DF, Wegh CAM, de Leeuw TJM, van Etten-Jamaludin FS, Vaughan EE, Schoterman MHC, Belzer C, Smidt H, Tabbers MM, Benninga MA, Koppen IJN. (2023). What are Normal Defecation Patterns in Healthy Children up to Four Years of Age? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. J Pediatr. 261:113559. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2023.113559.
  1. Johns Hopkins Medicine (n.d.). Stool Color Guide. Retrieved April 25, 2023, from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/stool-color-guide
  1. Seattle Children’s Hospital Research Foundation (2023, March 17). It’s a Messy Topic, but Let’s Talk About Poop. Retrieved April 25, 2023, from https://pulse.seattlechildrens.org/its-a-messy-topic-but-lets-talk-about-poop/
  1. Johns Hopkins Medicine (n.d.). What Can Your Child’s Poop Color Tell You? Johns Hopkins Children’s Center. Retrieved April 24, 2024, from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/johns-hopkins-childrens-center/what-we-treat/specialties/gastroenterology-hepatology-nutrition/stool-color-overview
  1. Seattle Children’s Hospital Research Foundation (2022, December 30). Stools – Unusual Color. Retrieved April 24, 2024, from https://www.seattlechildrens.org/conditions/a-z/stools-unusual-color/
  1. Stanford Medicine (2022, December 30). Bristol Stool Form Scale. Stanford Medicine Pediatric General Surgery. Retrieved April 24, 2024, from https://pediatricsurgery.stanford.edu/Conditions/BowelManagement/bristol-stool-form-scale.html
  1. CHOC (2021, December 7). Your child’s poop: An ultimate guide. Retrieved April 24, 2024, from https://health.choc.org/your-childs-poop-an-ultimate-guide/
  1. Mount Sinai (n.d.). When your child has diarrhea. Retrieved April 25, 2023, from https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/selfcare-instructions/when-your-child-has-diarrhea
  1. Vanderhoof JA, Whitney DB, Antonson DL, Hanner TL, Lupo JV, Young RJ. (1999). Lactobacillus GG in the prevention of antibiotic-associated diarrhea in children. J Pediatr. 135(5):564-8. doi: 10.1016/s0022-3476(99)70053-3.
  1. Culturelle Probiotics (n.d.). Culturelle® Kids Daily Probiotic Chewables. Retrieved April 25, 2024, from https://www.culturelleprobiotic.ca/products/kids-health/probiotic-chewables

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