by Meghan Kemnec, ND
There are a few causes to consider when your infant has green frothy or bubbly stool. Green frothy stools may be absolutely normal, reflecting the content of mom or baby’s diet .
Considering St. Patrick’s day is right around the corner, beware green food coloring as the cause of a change in baby’s stool.
Food coloring may be a more obvious cause, but introducing green veggies may also change the color of stool just as beets can turn stool red.
More consequential causes of green frothy stool include:
- Teething or illness
- Strong letdown
- Sensitivity to foods or formula (especially dairy)
Teething or Illness
Teething or illness may cause frothy or green stools due to excess mucus production. This is more likely to be the cause if changes to stool are accompanied by a fussy baby with a mild fever.
Letdown that is very strong is often caused by oversupply and can reflect an imbalance in foremilk and hindmilk.
If baby struggles to swallow a lot of the carbohydrate rich foremilk and swallows a lot of air at the same time, it can make baby gassy and also turn stool green.
If breasts seem very engorged every time you nurse or if baby appears to have difficulty with the volume of milk on latching, this is a sign letdown may be causing frothy stools.
What can you do about strong letdown?
Try hand expressing a little milk or some of the first letdown into a towel or cloth diaper and then letting baby latch.
If this does not help and you still suspect oversupply as a cause, contact your pediatrician or a lactation consultant (IBCLC).
If the above issues do not seem likely to be causing your baby’s green frothy stool, or if baby seems very gassy, fussy, or develops a skin rash, consider the possibility that baby has a dairy or other food intolerance or sensitivity.
Sensitivity to foods of formula (especially dairy)
Cow’s milk is one of the most common foods to irritate infants as many babies lack enzymes necessary to properly digest lactose or have sensitivity to cow’s milk protein.
Additional foods that babies may more commonly have sensitivity to include soy, egg, and wheat or gluten.
Common allergens which are less commonly linked to green frothy stools are peanuts and corn.
What can you do about sensitivity to foods?
Consider switching to lactose free milk or formula or removing dairy from your diet all together.
Try replacing cow’s milk, cheese, and yogurt with either goat, sheep, camel or a nondairy alternative.
Non dairy options I recommend are hemp milk for it’s great calorie, fat, and vitamin D content.
Almond, coconut, cashew or pea protein are other popular non-dairy alternatives that are commonly found at your local health food store.
Better tolerated formulas may be contain goats milk or a hypoallergenic formula that is hydrolyzed or lactose free.
When to seek help?
Always contact your pediatrician or a naturopathic pediatrician if you have significant concerns about baby’s digestion.
The author, Dr. Meghan Kemnec is a Naturopathic Doctor specializing in pediatrics and holistic health for the whole family.
She practices in Palo Alto at Peninsula Integrative Medicine.
Dr. Jack Newman, pediatrician and lactation specialist: One Sided Feeding or Two?