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Children's Health

Mushy, unformed stool



My daughter is 26 months old and still has very mushy, unformed (oatmeal consistency) brownish stools. She has only had 1-2 formed stools in her life. She moves her bowels once a day, and although very mushy, they are never watery. She is otherwise healthy and is in the 95 percentile in both weight and height. She is not gassy and she doesn`t have abdominal pain. Is this normal?


Normal stooling patterns are quite varied. Daily mushy stools are very normal in toddlers. They tend to be mushier in children with a high intake of fruit juice, milk or both. I don't know if this is the case with your daughter. Current recommendations for daily milk intake for normal weight children 24 months of age until puberty are no more than 16 ounces (2 cups) of low fat or preferably non-fat milk per day and no more than 6 ounces of 100% fruit juice. Fruit drinks (mixtures of some juice with corn syrup and water) are not recommended at all . If your daughter loves juice, dilute it with a like amount of water to stretch her intake.

Stools should be brownish in color. Frankly bloody, tarry black, white, mucous-laden, or explosive stools are not normal. It would not be normal to consistently see bits of undigested food in the stool. If none of these are the case, your daughter is growing well, and has no symptoms of abdominal discomfort, you can feel reassured that all is well. Your observations of your vigorous, healthy child clearly confirm that her stools are just a normal variant.



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Response by:

Mary M Gottesman, PhD, RN, CPNP, FAAN Mary M Gottesman, PhD, RN, CPNP, FAAN
Professor of Clinical Nursing
College of Nursing
The Ohio State University