Your baby’s stool is one of the most important indicators of their health. It’s no wonder why parents are so engrossed in monitoring their baby’s diapers!
But since babies typically differ in the color, frequency and consistency of their stools, being keen on observing what’s beyond the normal can be a challenging task – particularly if something seems abnormal.
If you’ve found this article, you may have found yourself saying “My baby’s poop has black strings in it! What should I do?”
Before you begin to panic, try to sit back, breathe and relax. This isn’t necessarily a cause for concern. Let’s examine the possible reasons why baby poop may have black strings, which among these causes are considered normal and when will it already be something to be concerned about.
The possible causes of black strings in baby poop are:
- Traces of meconium
- Fiber from fruits and vegetables
- Digested blood from bleeding nipples
- Ingested strings, thread or hair
- Iron supplements and iron-rich foods
We’ll discuss each possible cause in more detail, but before that, let’s get to know more of the normal baby poop appearance to help you identify the warning signs that may require an urgent call to your pediatrician later on.
What Does Normal Baby Poop Look Like?
Newborns will all begin to pass out black, tarry stools during the first few days of their lives. This black stringy baby poop is called meconium and it is comprised of what your baby has eaten while inside the womb.
After around a day or two of feeding, this will gradually transition to greenish poop, which is a combination of the meconium and the yellowish stools that is about to emerge. Though breastfed and bottle-fed babies may slightly differ in what comes out of their diaper, all earth tone colors such as yellow, green, tan and brown, are typically normal for baby poop.
Newborn baby poop widely differs in its color, texture, and frequency. As babies grow older, their stool characteristics may continue to change as it is highly influenced by their individual diet and activity.
What Causes Black Strings in Baby Poop?
Traces of meconium
Newborn babies go through a transition phase between meconium and the yellowish stools that will come in once they begin feeding. This is why sometimes, you might see greenish or yellowish baby poop with little black strings during the first few days of their life. You don’t have to worry about this, as the black areas may simply be traces of meconium that your newly born baby needs to expel out of his or her digestive tract.
Fiber from fruits and vegetables
For babies who are older than 6 months and have already been introduced to solid foods, the fiber from what they ate is often the culprit. Parents often notice the brown or black strings in poop after consuming a fibrous fruit such as banana or apple, and also some vegetables that are rich in fiber.
The black strings in stool are even described as worm-like by some concerned parents. However, don’t worry too much as these so-called worms in baby poop from bananas are just undigested fiber that your baby has consumed. They usually come from the center part of the banana which is kind of difficult for a baby’s developing tummy to digest.
If your baby is happy and well, just continue feeding them as usual. These black or brown strings will eventually disappear in a day or so.
Digested blood from bleeding nipples
If you have cracked nipples, it is possible for your baby to ingest small amounts of blood while breastfeeding. Once digested, these small traces of blood will turn dark and may appear as small, black strings in infant poop.
Ingesting some traces of blood right there won’t be a cause of a problem, unless the mom has a bloodborne disease such as HIV or Hepatitis. However, the pain from cracked and bleeding nipples can interrupt breastfeeding and is a problem that should be resolved. You may talk this out with your doctor or breastfeeding consultant in your next appointment or try some of these breastfeeding pain remedies for a while.
Ingested strings, thread or hair
This may sound gross but yes, that long black string in poop may be actually be threads, fine strings or hair. Babies tend to explore everything through their mouth, so be extra keen on watching over them as they play.
Since thread or hair can’t be digested, they will come out with your baby’s stools. If you suspect that the black string like things in baby stool are indeed, ingested foreign objects, just let them pass out with the poop.
Some instances wherein a thread or hair strand partially comes out in the stool is also common. You may try to gently pull the strand, but if there is resistance, just leave it there. It will usually come out in a day or two. Pulling with too much force is not recommended since it may already injure your baby’s bottom.
Iron supplements and iron-rich foods
If your baby recently took an iron supplement, chances are you will also see black strings in baby poop as a side effect. Iron supplements may also totally darken and harden your baby’s stool over time.
Iron-rich foods, like beans, red meat and raisins, may also produce black specks in your baby’s poop. If your baby recently consumed any food rich in iron, they may also produce black spots, strings, or black chunks in baby poop.
In rare cases, the seemingly black worms in baby poop may be indicative of a parasitic infection. Some parasites may release eggs or waste materials that may appear as black specks or strings in baby’s poop. Babies who are exposed to unsanitary environments are particularly at risk.
When to Seek Help for Black Strings in Baby Poop
As you can see, these little black strings in baby poop are usually harmless, and resolve on their own most of the time. However, some conditions may require you to give your pediatrician a call or visit so as to ensure that your baby is safe and healthy. Here are some instances when you may need to seek medical help upon seeing those black strings in your baby’s diaper:
Stuck strings or clumps of hair
If you see that the strings are stuck in your baby’s anal area for several days or you see larger clumps of hair strands in your baby’s stools, then something might be wrong. Your pediatrician may advise some ways to make sure that everything will come out, without causing too much discomfort for your little one.
Babies taking iron supplements are also at risk of constipation. Babies are most likely constipated if they pass out hard, pebble-like stools and they’re frequently straining to defecate. If you feel that your baby has difficulty while passing out stools, then you may give your doctor a call. Your pediatrician may prescribe an alternative supplement and offer additional ways on how to soften baby poop.
Upper GI bleeding
Upper gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding refers to bleeding on the mouth, esophagus, stomach and the upper portion of small intestines. In babies and young children, the common symptoms of upper GI bleeding are vomiting with blood (hematemesis) and black stools (melena).
So if your baby is vomiting with blood, or the black stools aren’t subsiding after a couple of days, bring her to your pediatrician immediately. Upper GI bleeding is a medical emergency that needs prompt evaluation and treatment.
Parasites like pinworms, hookworms, and ascaris can infect babies and young children through contaminated soil and water. The symptoms of parasitic infections include pale skin, stomach pain, loss of appetite, and significant weight loss. Your pediatrician may request a stool test to confirm the presence of parasitic eggs and provide appropriate treatment.
So overall, the black strings in baby poop may be due to a newborn’s transitional stools, the foods that your baby eats, or supplements that they take. In some cases, it could also be a foreign object that your child has put into his or her mouth. Though these reasons are often not that concerning, you may still wish to follow-up with your pediatrician for for further advice. This will provide insurance reassurance that everything is fine and most importantly, to make sure that your baby is safe and healthy.