Toddler Poop Consistency: A Guide To Constipation & Diarrhoea

**Disclaimer** While I am a qualified nutrition professional, I am in no way qualified to give medical advice on toddler poop consistency. Please consult your doctor if you have concerns. 

Right, that’s out of the way. Let’s talk about your baby’s poop. Specifically about toddler poop consistency. They’re learning language, they’ve got some words, but they’re not quite at the stage yet to say “mummy, i’m constipated, mummy i’ve got diarrhoea” – so you need to be watchful. I feel you. Being watchful of poop isn’t the greatest of motherhood jobs! 

But ongoing toddler poop consistency issues need to be solved before they turn into full blown health issues, so it is in your best interest to stay on top of the poo world from the beginning. 

What you’ll find here is:

So go on, jump in

Table of Contents

Toddler Poop Consistency: What is Normal

What is normal?

Poo (poo-poo, poop…you get it) is essentially your body discarding a whole bunch of waste that it does not need. All of this waste comes out the other end in (hopefully) a classic brown colour. Your toddler’s ‘perfect’ poo (is not in the bath! haha) is easy to pass, looks like a smooth. Slippery sausage (sorry), and doesn’t have any excess liquid. 

During the toddler years, it is ideal to poop at least every second day and to have good stool consistency. By the age of 18 months (early toddlerhood), poops should be soft and formed (sausage shaped!). The concept of the toilet should definitely be familiar to your toddler by now, and you may even have started toilet training (go you!).

Toddler Poop Consistency: What’s Abnormal

What's abnormal

How fun is checking your kid’s poop…you see something strange (a weird colour, consistency) – and in you go! Yuck. Although – give me a poo over a car-seat wrestle any day! All jokes aside, some familiarity with what constitutes normal and abnormal for YOUR toddler can go a long way to reassuring you if something appears strange or if there is a sign of constipation or diarrhea.

If you’re worried about consistency or colour, the other point to consider is how well your child is. Happy bouncy playful kids who are living life to the fullest, developing and behaving normally, are very unlikely to have anything serious going on – no matter what their stools look like. Toddler’s who are still breastfeeding will have different poops to those who are now consuming breast milk.

Obviously, I am not a doctor, so if you are concerned, please do go and see your GP.

How Do I Talk To My Child About Poop?

While everyone notices the scent first, we usually describe the colour and character of the excrement when we talk about it.

Yes, poo is normally a traditional shade of brown, but that doesn’t rule out the possibility of poo in other colours of the rainbow. That’s because the food we consume has a significant impact on the colour of what we eat.

Green meals, such as spinach and kale (the hardest performing vegetable), for example, will convert excrement a shade of green. Red foods, such as beets, are certain to produce a red colour (not to mention a red stain to the toilet water). There are also a plethora of food colorings that can be used to add a little sparkle here and there.

Because the poos have passed through the body more quickly, less of the black pigments are picked up to colour them. This is also typical.

How Do I Know If My Toddler Is Constipated?

About Toddler Constipation

Let me tell you a story about constipation. When Delilah was a baby (7 or 8 months of age), she got so constipated, I had to physically stick my fingers in and pull her poop out. We would both be crying and it was not fun for anybody. Further down the page, I’ve got some tips to avoid this happening in the first place. 

Despite what you might think, being constipated does not mean going a few days without pooping – as long as when your toddler does poop, it comes out looking normal. The main signs of constipation in your toddler are:

  • small, round, hard stools
  • face scrunching
  • extra grunting
  • difficulty while pushing out that hard poop.

While an occasional blockage of toddler poop is no big deal, chronic constipation can be very painful and can affect your child’s eating habits and sleep. Some kids suffering from constipation also develop anal fissures (cracks or tears in the skin near the anus) that bleed and cause poo to have streaks of blood.

When Should I Worry About Toddler Diarrhoea?

About toddler diarrhoea

Nervous about the next diaper change? Poops that are flowing a little too freely may suggest poor diet, food intolerances, or infections. Once again how ‘well’ your toddler is, is very important – sometimes kids just tend to have ‘looser stools’ and it’s very normal (another good reason to dig around in their poop every now and then – sorry!!).

If watery poop persist in a grizzly or unwell child, you’ll need to check things out with your doctor.

An occasional bit of runny poo poo is no need for concern. But if your child is also vomiting, has a fever, a bloated belly or if the diarrhea is bloody (bright red or dark red), call your doc for sure. Another reason to call the doc: in case your child becomes dehydrated — a real danger when your toddler is losing a lot of fluids and electrolytes (essential minerals) through diarrhea or vomiting. Signs of dehydration include cracked lips, tearless crying and a decrease in urination.

When treating diarrhea, medications aren’t usually necessary. Instead, try the diet based solutions further down in this article

What Color Should A Toddler’s Poop Be?

the colour of poop

Black stool? Red poop? White stool? Dark green poop? Is your toddler’s stool color freaking you out? We’ve already mentioned that the colour of poo can vary widely (did I? Anyway, it does), and it’s rarely an issue. But there are a few colours you’ll need to watch out for. And the colour sure to bring the biggest panic is RED!

Before panicking, have a think if your toddler has eaten anything strong in a red colour in the past day or 2 (even watermelon). It’s more than likely to be that passing through. 

Bleeding through the bowel, however, can also lead to changes in colour of poo. If bleeding comes from further up the intestines and it’s plentiful, then it will mix in with the stool to make it all dark and sticky. If there’s bleeding lower down you may see clots and bright blood on. If the bleeding has come from a cut, tear, or fissure at the anus (or even a haemorrhoid), then we usually see bright red blood on the poo or dripped into the bowl. Ouch – doctor time! 

Now once again we have to look at the bigger picture. A little streak of blood once or twice isn’t of concern, especially if there’s a bit of constipation kicking about.. And sometimes, like for Delilah, if they’re trying to toilet train and there’s lots of trips to the loo, all the extra straining also causes a little tear – entirely normal.

Important to know (we are yet to experience this) poo can become really pale – a possible sign of liver disease blocking the flow of bile into the bowel. Really greasy and yellow stool may mean there’s loads of undigested fat in the poop – a possible sign there’s a malabsorption issue, even cystic fibrosis. Thankfully all conditions leading to these changes are rare in our kids – but please go and see your doctor if you are at all concerned!! 

The When, Why & How of Toddler Poop

how often should my toddler poop?

What is normal, anyway? Every child, every toddler, every person will have their own ‘normal’ – particularly when it comes to their poop. 

Any child who eats lots (particularly fruits, veggies and cereals) – will poo lots, and vice versa. Any child that eats lots of one type of food – say peanut butter, or jam, or strawberries – will tend towards having a poop tinged with different colors.

If you are concerned, first have a think about how well they are. If they are fighting fit, an average ‘normal’ looks like brown coloured, sausage type poops 0-2 times/day. At least twice a week is ideal but again, keep an eye on your child’s normal and check in with the doc if it is anything but. 

At the end of the day, we don’t need to watch every poo our kids make. Be aware of the extremes, and if you pick up a concern, have a friendly doctor at hand who loves to talk poo!

A Toddler Poop Guide: The Ultimate Chart

toddler poop chart guide

What To Do About My Toddler’s Diarrhoea + Constipation?

The most simple of methods to get your toddlers poop consistency back to ‘normal’ is through their diet. It’s the easiest, the cheapest and the most effective – and can be individualised to high-fibre foods that your toddler enjoys. 

If the majority of poos are tending towards constipation, then it’s time to act – get your kids more active, drinking water, and eating more fibre. We can soften most kids’ stools into the ‘ideal’ range by adding fruits such as apples, pears, and especially prunes to their diet. Any struggles beyond that warrants a discussion with your doctor.

Here are some suggestions for a constipated toddler:

  • If your child does not like a food, give small portions and praise your child for trying one or two bites.
  • Give your child lots of water and juices.
  • Limit dairy products if they are constipating.
  • Offer fresh fruits for desserts and snacks.
  • Serve high-fiber foods such as fresh fruits, dried fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  • Offer 4 ounces a day of prune juice or pear juice until the problem clears up.
  • Encourage your child to drink water to help soften stools.
  • Go easy on high-fat foods as well as those that are high in sugar; they can be binding.
  • Make sure your child is exercising regularly, even if it’s just a quick romp in the backyard or an after-dinner walk up the street. This will help get his digestive system to move things along.
  • If all else fails, ask your pediatrician about giving your toddler a stool softener designed especially for young children. And never give your child any kind of laxative unless your doctor says it’s okay.

And if trending toward diarrhoea:

  • Feed your child bland foods like those in the BRAT diet — bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast.
  • Make sure she gets plenty to drink, to avoid dehydration.
  • Skip high-fat and high-sugar foods, which can aggravate the digestive tract.
  • If your child is vomiting, skip solid foods for a while. In fact, you may want to avoid giving her anything to eat or drink for the first 10 to 15 minutes after she throws up, especially if it’s the first bout of vomiting. (It’s fine to give her small sips of water to get rid of the yucky taste in her mouth.)
  • Consider giving your toddler a rehydration fluid like Pedialyte. Start off slowly with small sips. If she’s able to keep that down, you can slowly move on to other liquids. When her bowel movements improve, you can gradually resume her usual diet.

Toddler Poop Consistency: FAQs

  • Why is my toddler’s poop so mushy?
    Mushy stool is made up of very soft chunks that break apart when they come into contact with water. This could be caused to a change in lifestyle or food, more stress than the body is used to, or an intestinal ailment. It might also happen if your exercise programme changes.
  • How can I firm up my toddler’s poop?
    More fibre may actually aid in the firming of stools. Whole-grain cereals and breads, legumes, and fresh fruits and vegetables are all good choices. Increasing the amount of fat in your diet may also assist. This may come as a surprise given how much emphasis is placed on controlling fat consumption.
  • Is my toddler’s iron supplement making them constipated? Heartburn, nauseousness, diarrhoea, constipation, and cramps are just a few of the stomach issues that iron supplements may bring on. Make sure your child consumes a sufficient amount of water each day, along with fruits, vegetables, and fibre. Iron supplements may cause your child’s poop to turn green or greyish black in colour. This is typical.

Recommended Toddler Poop Resources

Big Kids Go Potty – Personalised Books

These stories makes the potty training experience easier to handle and less intimidating for your toddler. This personalized story will take your child to the next level in the training process while rewarding them for their accomplishments. Show your little one how proud you are of them by adding their name, photo, and a message to this book, and you will soon say good-bye to diapers for good!

BabyBjorn Potty Training Kit

A potty chair, a step stool and a toilet training seat – everything you need for potty and toilet training your child.

Good Luck!

And here we are, at the end – thanks for sticking with me this far! I hope that at least one of these tips, charts & images resonates with you & your toddler. We’ve had a look at what’s ‘normal’ vs ‘abnormal’ (from reputable, evidence-based sources) – and also how often your toddler should be pooping. I’ve used my nutrition and public health background to help you understand how your toddlers diet is affecting their poop colour & cycle. We also had a good look at the 2 extremes of ‘abnormal’ toddler poops – constipation and diarrhoea. I hope it’s all been helpful – please comment below with any tips I may have forgotten! Be sure to check out my other helpful posts around toddler sleep & toddler food while you’re here!


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