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Baby's Bowel and Bladder Function

By: Elizabeth Grace - Updated: 26 Oct 2010 | comments*Discuss
Nappies Urine Wee Bowel Bladder

Many new parents express concern about their baby's bowel and bladder health. Typically, they have many questions covering everything from how many wet nappies their babies should have, to the expected frequency and consistency of a baby's bowel movements. While paediatricians field a host of questions, those relating to a baby's bowel and bladder functions might just be the most common.

New parents should be aware that for the first few days, babies pass meconium, which is a thick, dark green or black substance that was in the intestines before birth. After that, the baby's bowel movements will vary depending on a number of factors.

Breast Or Bottle?

Breastfed babies often have more frequent bowel movements than their formula fed peers, sometimes after every feeding, especially in the first few weeks of life. The stool of breastfed babies may also be looser than that of formula fed infants, which is again no cause for concern. The stools of babies who are fed a diet exclusively of breast milk will often be a mustard yellow or yellowish green colour, which can be a bit alarming for inexperienced parents. As babies mature and solid foods are added to their diets, their stools will become more brownish.

Formula fed babies typically do not move their bowels after each feeding, as is common in breastfed infants. Also, the stool of the formula fed baby is thicker, usually a pasty consistency. This varies a bit from baby and to baby and the range of "normal" is quite broad. As long as the baby's stool is not dry and hard, which can indicate constipation, there is no cause for worry. If you do suspect that your baby is constipated, check with your GP for guidance.

Things Change

After the first month or two, most breastfed and formula fed babies will move their bowels less frequently than they did in the beginning, and some will even go for a few days without passing a stool. This is perfectly fine. Again, as long as the baby is not truly constipated, you needn't worry.

When babies begin adding cereal and other solid foods to their diets, their bowel movements will change in colour, consistency, odor and may change in frequency. The precise changes will depend largely on the specifics of the foods eaten.

Wet Nappies

Much like bowel variances, each baby varies a bit in how often they urinate. In the beginning, you can expect at least a few wet nappies each day. As your baby grows and drinks a larger quantity of breast milk or formula, the number of wet nappies will increase too.

Older babies who are beginning to exert some bladder control may have a decrease in the number of nappies used each day, but the wet ones will typically be much wetter than in the past.

A baby's urine should be clear to very pale yellow; babies who have darker urine may not be getting sufficient fluids. If you have concerns, check with your GP for specific advice.

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