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Newborn and Infant Care

Green stools

03/28/2006

Question:

I have switched my 3 month old from soy to milkbased formula and for the last couple of days her stools are soft green. Is this normal; or could she be lactose intolerant. She has no vomiting or rashes.

Answer:

You ask an interesting question. Green stools are just a normal variation in stool color, and as you surmised, a consequence of changing the baby's formula type. You are right in thinking that the lack of any vomiting or rashes indicates that she has not had an allergic reaction to the formula. So all is well.

The color and consistency of infant stool varies widely over the first year of life as new foods are introduced and the baby consumes a greater or lesser amount of fluids each day. As your baby begins to eat solid foods, you will find that her stools look more orange with carrots and squash, green with beans and spinach, and red with beets. Stools that are a cause concern include the hard, pebble-like stools of constipation and any stools with blood or lots of mucous and large amounts of watery, fatty or greasy stools that might indicate infectious diarrhea or important digestive problems.

If you have serious concerns about your daughter's stools, it is a good idea to take a diaper with the concerning stool in a ziplock baggie with you to the doctor's office to aid in a prompt diagnosis. Thank you for an interesting question.

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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