A small amount of mucus may be due to gastric irritation if the baby is colicky and is not a sign of disease. Blood in the stools can either show up bright red if it is fresh blood or black if it has been through the digestive system. Black stools caused by bleeding are tarry and should be reported to your doctor. They should not be confused with normal dark stools caused by iron or other substances in the diet. In the first few days after birth babies stools are black because they consist of meconium which has collected before birth. They gradually change to a normal yellow colour. Bright red blood in the stools can also be caused by bleeding from a fissure at the anus or a small polyp in the gut. In more serious cases the bleeding may be caused by a disease or deformity of the digestive tract and prompt medical attention must be sought in all cases to establish the cause. Whatever the case, blood in the stool must be reported to your doctor immediately-

Certain diseases produce distinctive stools which are often foul smelling or bulky. You will have to have these examined by a doctor who will order tests to establish the exact nature of the problem.

Constipation. Bottle fed babies are prone to become constipated particularly if sugar is not added to their feeds, if they do not drink water, or iron has been added to their feeds. The constipated baby has hard, dry stools and may cry when passing them. Occasionally a small split may form at the anus and this can make it more difficult and painful for her to pass a stool. Lubricate the anal area with petroleum or K-Y jelly, and increase her fluid intake in the form of water or fruit juice. Prune juice works well but can cause cramps in some babies. If it does not affect your baby badly, give between feeds or when your baby is restless before a feed is due.

If your baby does not have sugar added to her feeds you can add a teaspoon of brown sugar or honey to each feed. If she already has sugar added to her feeds try using brown sugar or honey instead of white sugar and increase the quantity by half to a full teaspoon with every feed.

Milk of magnesia should only be added to her feeds as a last resort, when the dosage will depend on the size of the child. For example, under six months, half a teaspoon before one of the daytime feeds. Rooibos tea with honey is an excellent way to loosen your babys stools. Make a fairly strong brew using two teaspoons rooibos tea to three cups water. Mix 60 ml tea with a teaspoon of honey, cool, and give it to your baby. Do not use ordinary tea. When she is older, mabella porridge or all bran cereals are also good for adding bulk and relieving constipation. (See also p. 125.) Cook and serve her fruit and vegetables without peeling. A psyllium seed preparation is useful when dietary changes do not have the desired effect.


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