Your Baby's Pee & Poo
A baby's pee and poo are said to be a barometer of his health condition. When you are changing your baby's diapers, do remember to check the diaper before disposing it. "Something is not right!" Often, it is a mother's instinct that leads to the early detection of the baby's illness. If you discover something abnormal, bring your baby's diaper along when you consult a doctor. Do not delay in seeking medical help, especially when you discover blood in your baby's poo.
When you discover something is amiss, promptly check your baby for these signs:
Is your baby's skin tone pinkish as usual?
Does your baby respond when you try to humour him? Or does he remain irritable?
How much breast milk or formula milk does your baby drink? Is your baby eating his solids as usual?
Does your baby have worrisome symptoms, such as fever, vomitting or rashes? Does your baby seem to be in pain when he pees or poos?
Concerns about Your Baby's Pee
Though your baby's pee is slightly darker than usual, there are no other symptoms. Your baby is in a good mood and he is eating normally. When the weather is hot, your baby tends to perspire more. This may decrease the volume or frequency of his pee, resulting in darker-coloured pee.
When your baby's pee is pinkish, there is a possibility of blood in the urine. Bring his diaper along when you consult the doctor.
When your baby's pee is trapped in the diaper for a prolonged period, it will naturally smell of ammonia. You will notice this odour when you change your baby's diaper in the morning because it has absorbed your baby's pee through the night. But do remember to change your baby's diapers regularly during the day.
Your baby continues to have a persistent fever of over 38 degrees Celsius but there are no other symptoms, such as a runny nose or cough. If the high fever persists for a few days and your baby's pee has an abnormal odour, there is a possibility that your baby has an urinary tract infection.*1
Although rarely seen during infancy, if your baby is a boy, there is a possibility that he has balanoposthitis.*2 Though you may not notice pus on the diapers, your baby seems to have difficulty in peeing (the tip of his penis swells up but the urine discharged is thread-thin). If your baby cries loudly when he pees, there is a strong possibility that he has balanoposthitis. You should seek medical help immediately.
When the weather is hot, your baby tends to perspire more and pee less. Though the diaper may not be as wet as usual, as long as your baby is peeing every 3 to 4 hours, there is no cause for concern.
If your baby who is in the lactational stage does not pee for more than half a day, it is a cause for concern. Your baby may be suffering from dehydration.*3
Concerns about Your Baby's Poo
When your baby discharges poo that consists mostly of blood (the poo resembles strawberry jam or tomato ketchup), there is a possibility that your baby is suffering from bowel intussusception or telescoped bowel.*4
Your baby's jaundice condition persists even one month after the birth, and the poo is whitish or cream coloured. Though the poo is not as runny as diarrhoea, there is a possibility that your baby has biliary atresia.*5
When your baby's diarrhoea worsens, and the poo becomes whitish and there is a possibility that your baby has Rotavirus Diarrhoea.*6
This may be caused by gastrointestinal tract bleeding,*7 though this condition is rarely seen in babies.
When your baby is fed solids that are buttery or oily, you may find some mucus (like that of a runny nose) in your baby's poo. There is no cause for concern.
When your baby's poo is mixed with mucus and streaks of blood, seek medical help immediately. There is a possibility that your baby is suffering from bacterial enteritis (intestinal or bowel inflammation caused by bacteria).
High-fibre food may be discharged without being digested. There is no cause for concern as this is not a sign of an illness. This will be resolved naturally when your baby's digestive system develops.
*1 Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
This is an illness caused by viral or bacterial infection that affects any part of the urinary tract (which includes the kidneys, renal pelvis, ureters, bladder, and urethra; ie the duct that connects the bladder to the genitals for the removal of fluids). There are no obvious symptoms besides fever, and the baby may be irritable from discomfort. Although UTI cannot be detected solely from the pee odour, you may notice some abnormalities from the pungent smell of your baby's pee.
An inflammation of the foreskin and the head of the penis typically caused by bacteria. When the inflammation worsens, a yellowish pus may be discharged. At times, bleeding may occur, causing the pee to become reddish. Initial symptoms include itch. For your child is 2 or 3 years old, you may notice that he seems to be overly concerned about his penis.
Refers to a condition when there is excessive loss of body fluid. One is prone to dehydration when there is prolonged fever or diarrhoea, and should exercise caution. Signs and symptoms include a decrease in pee volume, lack of tears when crying, pale complexion and extreme sleepiness or fatigue. Seek medical help when you observe these signs in your baby.
*4 Intussusception or Telescoped Bowel
Intussusception occurs when a part of the intestine has become infolded into another section of intestine. This is common among babies between 4 months and 1 year old, especially among boys. Its occurrence is sudden and one typical symptom is intermittent moderate to severe cramping abdominal pain. Sometimes, it may seem that your baby's condition has stabilised but he still cries loudly. This situation will continue to recur. Though blood may not be detected in your baby's poo, if he shows signs of poor appetite or cries intermittenly, bring your baby to the hospital for medical attention immediately.
*5 Biliary Atresia
This is an illiness where the bile duct is blocked or damaged. The bile duct is a tube where bile (an important fluid produced by the liver) flows. Because the bile duct is blocked, bile cannot flow into the intestine duodenum. One characteristic symptom is whitish poo. There are no other symptoms like diarrhoea, constipation or abdominal pain. If your baby's poo turns increasingly whitish, seek medical help.
*6 Rotavirus Diarrhoea
Refers to diarrhoea caused by Rotavirus or Caliciviridae. It is an infectious disease that is commonly spread during the winter season in temperate countries. In tropical areas like Singapore, it can occur throughout the year. Signs and symptoms usually begin with sudden vomitting, followed by severe diarrhoea. Poo becomes whitish and eventually turns watery, resembling rice water. It may be accompanied by fever. Seek early medical help as it may lead to dehydration.
*7 Gastrointestinal Tract Bleeding
When bleeding occurs in the intestine or the intestine duodenum, black tar-like poo will be discharged. If your baby's poo is normally brown or yellowish brown but turns abnormally black, seek medical help.
Maternity & Gynaecological Clinic
820 Thomson Road, Mount Alvernia Medical Centre, Block A #B1-01, Singapore 574623