As a new parent, it can be hard to know what is normal and what is not, especially when it comes to baby poop. Many parents are alarmed to open a diaper and find white curds inside, but should they be? What is causing this odd texture?
White curds or chunks in baby poop are typically bits of undigested milk fat and they are normal for breastfeeding babies. For formula-fed babies and toddlers, white curds could be the result of illness, undigested food in the poop, or a food allergy or intolerance. Completely white poop could be a sign of a serious medical issue.
Is your baby’s poop normal? Let’s look at some of the possible causes of the white curds you are seeing.
White curds in baby poop
Your baby’s poop is likely to go through the entire color spectrum at one point or another. Breastmilk, formula, and solid foods will all contribute different colors, textures, and other features to baby poop that can sometimes look startling but are often completely normal.
White curds in baby poop are most likely normal, especially if you are breastfeeding, but they could also indicate an issue in some cases. It is common for partially the fats in undigested breastmilk (and regular milk or foods) to clump together and form white curds in baby’s stool For all babies, a new change in poop consistency could signal an illness or an allergy so you should be aware of all of the possibilities.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at what you should expect depending on what your baby is eating:
With breastfed babies, it’s normal for the poop to look like it has cottage cheese curds in it because of the way the milk proteins make their way through your baby’s developing digestive system. In this case, you are likely to see white curds or pieces mixed into a yellowish, watery stool.
White curds or chunks in formula-fed baby poop can still be normal, or they could mean your little one is reacting to an ingredient in the formula, usually a dairy allergy. In this case, monitor your baby for other signs of allergic reaction and consult a doctor if your baby has other symptoms. Your baby’s poop is also likely to change if you change formula brands or types.
Older babies and toddlers
Once babies are eating solids, white curds could be caused by undigested food, an infection, or a reaction to a new food. If there don’t seem to be any other issues happening with your baby, it’s probably normal. If they have other symptoms such as fever, diarrhea, or vomiting, seek medical attention immediately.
In all cases, it always pays to be cautious so you should never feel bad about calling your pediatrician to ask their opinion, just in case!
What does white chunks in baby poop mean?
At this point, we’ve explained what causes white chunks or curds in your baby’s poop.
But, what do you do now?
If your baby is breastfeeding, you don’t need to change anything as long as they are making wet and dirty diapers and gaining weight normally – your baby’s digestive system will continue to develop!
If your baby is formula-fed, you may want to change to a different brand of formula that does not include lactose. If you suspect a dietary intolerance or allergy, always consult with a doctor!
Now, let’s take a closer look at what is going on with babies and toddlers.
White curds in breastfed baby poop
The most common reason for white curds in poop is that your baby is breastfed.
The poop of a breastfed baby is often described as mustard-colored and seedy. Parents say it looks like cottage cheese or that it is runny and has white curds in it.
If you have an exclusively breastfed baby and this description matches what you are seeing – congratulations! Your baby’s poop is super normal. The curds you see are likely undigested milk fat, and they are to be expected. Every poop will look about the same in this case.
If you are seeing something that looks more like mucus (think snot), or flecks of red blood, it could mean that your baby has an infection or an intolerance to a food you are eating – check with your pediatrician in this case. Many newborns are intolerant to dairy milk proteins that are passed through the breastmilk. You may notice changes in baby’s poop depending on what you ate recently, which points to an intolerance or allergy.
Your pediatrician can help find the cause and plan the next steps.
Once your baby starts eating solids, or if you introduce formula, you’ll see changes in the poop again.
White curds in baby poop when formula-fed
For babies who are partially or completely formula-fed, poop will look different. You may still see white curds though.
There can still be pieces of undigested milk fat like in breastfed poop, but because formula digests differently than breast milk, this poop is usually darker in color and more formed. Because of this, you may not still be able to see those white chunks of undigested milk. But if you are seeing white curds in every poop, that’s probably what it is!
White curds in the poop of a formula-fed baby could be a sign that there is a food allergy or intolerance, especially if you are noticing other signs like diarrhea, fussiness, or mucus in the poop. A sudden change in poop can also mean your baby is fighting an illness. If this started suddenly or after starting a new formula, you should check in with your doctor.
Keep in mind though, if you are combination feeding with breastmilk and formula, those white curds are probably just a normal effect of breast milk. Some parents notice more variety in their baby’s poop depending on which kind of milk they recently had.
White curds in toddler poop
Toddlers are a whole different ball game, but if you have one you already know that!
Some possible causes of white curds in a toddler could be:
- A milk-heavy diet, which sometimes happens when a toddler is sick or teething and doesn’t eat as much solid food as usual. It’s not unusual for a toddler’s poop to revert back to a more baby-like consistency in this case. This is especially true if your toddler is still breastfeeding and increases their nursing time while ill.
- A food allergy or intolerance, especially if the curds come with diarrhea with stringy globs of mucus in it.
- A virus or an infection.
Undigested food is most likely to be the culprit if you are seeing white curds in your toddler’s poop. Another clue that this is the case is if you only notice it once or twice, or only after your toddler eats certain foods.
What does undigested food look like in baby poop?
When your baby starts solids, you will see a big change in the color, consistency, and (definitely!) smell of the poop.
As their bodies adjust to solid food, you will sometimes see entire pieces of food in the poop. This is completely normal! It takes a while for a baby’s digestive system to fully process solid foods at first. As they eat more and learn to chew more completely, this will subside and their poop will start looking a lot more like, well, poop.
If your little one just started solids and you are suddenly noticing white curds, look to diet as the first possible cause. That cottage cheese looking substance could quite literally be the cottage cheese they ate earlier! Even things like pasta, rice, potatoes, etc., could give a white-ish or chunky appearance. You might be surprised by the way food looks once it shows up partially digested in the diaper. A snack like colorful cereal or crackers could easily end up looking like white chunks after a trip through your baby.
The poop possibilities are endless!
Even in toddlerhood, undigested food in poop is not uncommon. (It’s even normal for adults!) Some fibrous foods like corn or peas are more likely to be seen again, but literally anything can show up in the poop. Babies and toddlers have fast digestion and less than great chewing skills, so it’s easy for food to pass all the way through relatively unharmed.
As long as your child doesn’t show other signs of a problem – slow growth, tiredness, persistent diarrhea – there’s no need to worry.
What if my baby’s poop is totally white?
Call your doctor!
Poop that is completely white, chalky looking, or very pale is a different story – talk to your pediatrician ASAP if you see this. It’s rare, but it can indicate an issue with the way the liver is processing bile.
A note – if your baby or toddler recently had a stomach bug, you might notice one or two pale poops in the day or two after your child starts feeling better. This can be normal, but check in with the doctor just to be on the safe side!
What does infected baby poop look like?
If you are worried that your baby might have an infection or other issue going on, don’t worry. White chunks or curds in your baby’s poop does not indicate an infection.
If your baby’s poop is infected, it will often have a green color to it and there might even be some blood mixed into the stool which could be bright red, dull red, or even black depending on how long it has been in the stomach and intestines.
What does teething poop look like?
Teething babies won’t necessarily have a change in poop color but they can experience something known as ‘teething diarrhea’ in which their stools are loose and they may experience general stomach upset, as well.
The term ‘teething diarrhea’ is a bit of a misnomer, however, because the diarrhea isn’t caused by the teething itself. Rather, teething tends to happen around the same time that babies are starting to eat solid foods. When a baby reaches this milestone, there are LOTS of poop changes happening as his or her stomach gets used to the new foods!