Poop is poop, right? Well, when it comes to baby poop, there’s actually a whole spectrum of normal colors and textures.
So if you happen to spot white curds in your baby’s poop, the first thing to know is this: Don’t panic.
White curds are usually just bits of undigested milk fat from your breast milk or your baby’s formula. There may also be other relatively harmless causes, such as introducing solids. (Occasionally white chunks can be a sign of a problem — like an infection — but we’ll get to that later.)
Here’s everything you need to know about why your baby’s poop might have white curds, when to worry about it, and other ways your baby’s poop might look in the first year or two.
One of the most common reasons why your baby may have white chunks or curds in their poop is because they’re breastfed. It’s thought that the white stuff is actually undigested bits of milk fat from breast milk. Another theory is that the white chunks may be excess breast milk proteins that have curdled — hence, the curds.
You may already know that exclusively breastfed babies can have strange poops. Breastfed newborn poop commonly looks like yellow mustard seeds, but it can also look like white curds when baby gets larger.
Not breastfeeding? Here’s the thing: Formula-fed babies can sometimes have white chunks in their poop, too — and for some of the same reasons. Let’s take a look at the specifics.
1. Undigested milk fat
Like we said, milk fat doesn’t always break down fully in your baby’s stomach, which can make for a cottage cheese-like appearance in your baby’s stool.
This is more common in breastfed babies because breast milk has a high content of fat. (Formula has less milk fat than breast milk, but it can happen — more rarely — in formula-fed babies as well.)
If your baby drinks breast milk and is having otherwise normal poops — and isn’t showing any signs of discomfort or illness — undigested fat may be the culprit.
2. Undigested food
If your baby has started on solid foods, the white chunks could be undigested bits of food.
Your baby isn’t a pro at chewing yet, and their stomach is trying to figure out how to tolerate all kinds of new cuisine. So it comes as no surprise that some food may not get fully digested before being pushed through the digestive tract.
3. Infection or other illness
An infection is a less common reason for white curds in your baby’s poop. However, viral, bacterial, and parasitic infections could change the appearance of poop’s color and texture.
Another clue that an infection might be the cause? Your baby may have other symptoms, such as:
- fever in the form of a rectal temp over 100.4°F (38°C)
- runny nose
If your baby’s poop changes color and texture suddenly and they develop any other symptoms, call your pediatrician.
There’s no association between white chunks in your baby’s poop and food allergies. If your baby has a milk allergy, they’ll most likely have other symptoms, such as:
A food allergy is an immune system response to a particular food, and it can be life-threatening for some people. Always consult with a doctor or seek immediate care if your baby displays any symptoms of an allergic reaction.
As with food allergies, some people might think that white chunks in a baby’s poop is related to food intolerances. But there’s no evidence that food intolerances or sensitivities cause white chunks in your baby’s poop.
A food intolerance means your baby has trouble digesting a particular food — but not a life-threatening reaction. Lactose intolerance is a great example that many people think of, though it’s actually pretty rare in babies.
If you recently changed your diet (for breastfed babies) or brand of formula, your baby could be showing an intolerance to something.
Signs of a food intolerance in babies could include:
- increased fussiness or irritability
- increased gas
- mucus or blood in the stool
- diarrhea (watery stools or increased frequency of stools)
Again, though, you shouldn’t see white curds with an intolerance. If you notice any of the symptoms listed above, contact your baby’s doctor right away.
As your child gets older, their stool will start to look more familiar. Toddler poop still has range of colors and textures, but in general, a toddler’s stool should be brown, soft, and formed. Green and yellow can also be normal (as can neon green if your kid was eating anything with food coloring!).
Like babies, toddlers who are still consuming high amounts of breast milk, formula, or cow’s milk may have poop with white curds. White curds could also be attributed to the foods your toddler is eating — or even how they’re eating.
For example, if your child is eating light-colored foods — like cheese, pasta, yogurt, or crackers — too quickly, it could be appear in their stool as partially digested white stuff.
If the changes to your toddler’s poop are new andaccompanied by other symptoms, it could be a sign of allergy or intolerance. But in general, new colors or textures are more likely a reflection of what your child is eating.
Remember how we said normal baby poop exists on a wide spectrum of color? Let’s take a closer look at that rainbow, along with not-so-normal colors, so you know when to call the doc and when to change the diaper and move on.
|Poop color||Possible meaning(s)||Should you worry?|
|Yellow||Healthy digestion. Very normal with breastfed infants.||No.|
|Green||Your baby is transitioning from meconium (newborn poop).|
Your diet, if breastfeeding, is full of green foods.
Your baby eats a lot of green foods, like spinach.
Your baby has a viral illness.
|Usually not. It’s almost always normal or temporary.|
|Red||Your child ate something with food coloring or dye in it|
Your child has an infection or food allergy.
Your child has rectal irritation from diarrhea or constipation.
|Any amount of blood in your baby’s poop means you should check in with a doctor.|
|White (or pale/grey)||There’s a blockage in the liver preventing the passage of bile.||Yes, this is one time you need to get your child medical attention ASAP.|
|Black||Your baby is new to the world and passing meconium.|
Your baby ate something or took medication that caused black stool (like iron supplements or blueberries).
Your baby is bleeding in the digestive system. Other symptoms of a gastrointestinal bleed include abdominal cramping, red vomit, fatigue, and paleness. See your pediatrician right away if you suspect this might be the case.
|If your baby isn’t a newborn, it’s best to consult a doctor. If your baby has other symptoms, see your pediatrician right away.|
|Bright green, blue, or purple||Your child ate something with food coloring or dye in it, like frosted cupcakes or gummy snacks.||No. But you’ll probably do a double take when you first see it, and we don’t blame you!|
You have our permission to call your child’s doctor pretty much any time you’re worried about anything, including poop. That’s what doctors are there for!
But for the most part, white curds in your child’s poop aren’t a cause for concern. But do call the pediatrician right away if your baby has:
- other GI symptoms like diarrhea, constipation, or blood or mucus in the stool
- allergy symptoms like hives or wheezing
- illness symptoms like a fever
One important note: We’re talking about how to handle white curds in your baby’s poop, not poop that appears completely white or grey. If your baby is having fully white, pale, or chalky stools, it could be a sign of liver malfunction and needs to be addressed right away.
In most cases, white curds in your baby’s poop are just undigested bits of milk fat. This is pretty typical for babies who drink breast milk, but can it happen with formula-fed babies, too. It’s not a cause for concern and you don’t have to do anything differently.
If the white curds are a new thing in your baby’s poop or you’re noticing other symptoms of discomfort, illness, or signs of an allergic reaction, call your pediatrician.