Keeping in mind the number of concerns that may arise in relation to looking after the baby, one such issue rarely discussed is the acidic nature of baby stool. Your baby’s poop might be acidic because of malabsorption, digestive disturbance, or the diet of the breastfeeding mom which causes acidic rash amongst babies. You can stop acidic poop in babies by keeping a track of your baby’s diet and that of the mother along with taking care of the root cause.
What is acidic poop?
We all talk about constipation and diarrhea, but rarely anyone draws light on how to stop acidic poop in babies. Do you know that your baby’s stool will have a ph in the range of 5.5 to 7.5? The lower number on the ph scale indicates acidity in comparison to the higher values that show alkalinity (Kok, C.R., et al, 2020).
What causes acidic poop?
Acidic poop in babies might occur because of a number of reasons. These are shared below:
There are certain foods that are hard on the digestive system of the baby. This as a result makes the baby poop bulky and acidic.
Acidic poop, therefore, is usually caused by the intake of foods like citrus fruits/juices, strawberries, pineapple, raisins, grapes, and tomatoes. However, if the baby is breastfeeding, then his acidic poop can also be caused by the diet of the mother which is dominated by spicy food items or even coffee.
Additionally, apart from the mother’s diet, breastfeeding babies might also have acidic poop because of lactose overload. In other words, if they are consuming the breastmilk in a great amount, the accumulation of lactose tends to draw water into the bowels (lower). It is then fermented by all sorts of bacteria which results in an acidic stool (Rowena Bennett, 2014).
The baby’s poop turns acidic due to malabsorption which occurs when the food nutrients are not well absorbed by the digestive system. This can, however, happen because of an infection, virus, or parasites which apart from acidic poop, can lead to bigger issues of diarrhea and weight loss (Montague Marzels, 1930).
Should I be concerned about my baby’s acidic poop?
Well, acidic poop is widely said to cause diaper rash and because of this, parents are advised to keep changing the baby’s diaper. It is also recommended to keep his area clean. However, as a matter of fact, the low ph stool especially as seen amongst breastfed babies, helps them stay protected again gastroenteritis and other infections. This in turn causes diarrhea and symptoms like vomiting.
In contrast, recent research (TwinStuff) also proposes that the acidic nature of the stool has great benefits as it now indicates that the acidic environment actually does not activate the enzymes in the stool that causes skin issues.
How to identify the cause of acidic poop?
Any other diaper rash is treated by keeping the area clean and using topical creams. However, the one caused by acidic poop tends to stay longer and the only long-term treatment is to find the real cause. This can thus, be achieved in the following manner:
Track the diet by keeping a journal
The best way to find the cause of any illness is by tracking the diet. For this reason, in order to identify the cause of acidic poop, maintain a journal. Keep noting what is your baby eating, the frequency of bowels, if he passes stool after eating and the consequent stool consistency, and if it is causing any rash. Soon you will be able to observe a pattern and removing that certain food will resolve the matter.
You need to eliminate acidic poop-causing foods
As mentioned earlier, there are some commonly known food items like citrus fruits, pineapples, tomatoes, and strawberries that cause acidic poop in babies. Additionally, the extensive consumption of spicy food or even coffee in the breastfeeding mom’s diet may also cause acidic poop. Consequently, try eliminating these triggers one by one and see how the presence and absence of these food items in the baby’s diet coincide with acidic poop. It is most likely that you would be able to figure out the cause behind the acidic poop of your baby!
How to deal with an acidic diaper rash
The variance in a baby’s stool ph causes an acidic diaper rash that is easily identified. In other words, if you do not see any rash on the skin folds where the acidic urine or feces do not touch the surface, there won’t be any rashes present. However, acidic diaper rash is treatable and the foremost way to stop these rashes is by watching the food being consumed by the baby and the mother (if breastfeeding).
There are many medicated rash creams that help heal diaper rash. Keeping the area clean and applying a moisturizer also turns out to be helpful. Apart from this, here are some of the home remedies that are effective in treating diaper rash among babies.
- Aloe Vera gel is said to heal skin issues and diaper rash could be one of them.
- Breast milk is gold. It is said that applying breast milk also helps in reducing acidic diaper rash.
In contrast to solutions, when a baby develops an acidic rash, it is best to avoid fragrant/scented soaps, baby powder, fabric softeners, and other such irritant.
If, however, the rash keeps on growing despite all the remedies, and you see blood or blisters, you need to visit the healthcare practitioner and seek medical advice.
What does the acidic baby poop look like?
The acidic baby poop will appear normal and at times will be bulkier or runny. You may be able to distinguish acidic poop on the basis of its vinegar-like smell. In such a case, you would be able to judge that the poop is acidic and the cause needs to be addressed.
Does milk cause acidic poop?
Yes. Lactose intolerance or overload is one of the main reasons for acidic poop in babies. You will, therefore, observe sour-smelling baby poop as a result of intolerance towards the breastmilk or the dairy consumption of the mother, or because of cow milk or any dairy intolerance. Additionally, a lactose intolerant will also show signs of bloating and other abdominal issues.
Does teething cause acidic poop?
Although research is still unclear about the relationship between teething and acidic poop but some parents have observed sour smelling poop just before their babies popped their first tooth (TwinStuff)!
Acidic poop in babies is usually caused by food sensitivities, malabsorption and lactose intolerance or overload. Keep a close watch and track the reaction to food items in order to figure out the root cause.
Baby poop has always been a challenge. Since there is loads of data with regard to constipation and diarrhea, I aimed to resolve the dilemma behind acidic poop so that you need come across sleepless nights the way I once faced. I hope many of your questions are answered. You can mention your queries in the comment box below and share the article to help other concerned parents.
Kok, C.R., Brabec, B., Chichlowski, M. et al (2020). Stool microbiome, pH and short/branched chain fatty acids in infants receiving extensively hydrolyzed formula, amino acid formula, or human milk through two months of age. BMC Microbiol 20, 337. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12866-020-01991-5
Montague Marzels, 1930. The stools in infancy. PostGrad Med Journal. https://pmj.bmj.com/content/postgradmedj/5/53/78.full.pdf
Rowena Bennett, 2014. Lactose overload. Babycare advice. https://idph.iowa.gov/Portals/1/userfiles/48/Lactose%20overload.pdf
Twinstuff, Babies’s poop smell like Vinegar; why it happens. https://www.twinstuff.com/babies-poop-smells-like-vinegar/