Green Frothy Stools in Breastfed Babies

Typically, breastfed babies have frequent bowel movements.  They may need a diaper change after every feeding.  Their stools should be mustard yellow colored, seedy, and runny.  They may look like diarrhea but you have to remember a breastfed baby’s diet is made up entirely of liquids.  Their stools will be thin and runny until they start taking solids.  After their first month or so, they may have fewer bowel movements, but the consistency and color of their stools should stay the same.

Sometimes a baby will have green colored stools.  This doesn’t always indicate a problem.  It’s normal for breastfed babies to have curdled looking poo that ranges in color from yellow to green.  However, if your baby has persistent frothy or foamy green stools, this may be caused by a foremilk hindmilk imbalance.  Foremilk is high in lactose and low in fat.  If a baby is taking in a lot of foremilk, he won’t be able to digest all of the lactose in it.  The lactose will sit in his gut and ferment, causing acidic green stools and gas to form.

What is a foremilk hindmilk imbalance?

During a feeding, when your baby first starts nursing he gets mostly foremilk.  After he nurses for a while and empties the foremilk from your breast, he will start to get the richer, fattier hindmilk.  If you have an oversupply or switch breasts frequently when you nurse, your baby may end up getting too much foremilk.

Green foamy stools are a sign of foremilk hindmilk imbalance, but having green stools alone, doesn’t indicate an imbalance.  If your baby is happy, nursing well, and gaining weight, there is probably nothing to worry about.  Some babies just have greener stools than others.  If he has other symptoms such as constantly wanting to nurse, spitting up a lot, fussing, gassiness, or has a diaper rash that won’t go away, this might be due to a foremilk hindmilk imbalance.  To correct an imbalance mom may want to try block nursing or limit nursing to just one breast per feeding.

Other causes of green stools

Babies with food sensitivities can also have green stools.  The symptoms of a food sensitivity are similar to the symptoms a baby has when consuming too much foremilk.  With food sensitivities though, the stools are often green and mucusy.  Babies with food sensitivities may have colic like symptoms, rash, eczema, wheezing, or stools with blood and mucus in them.

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