Is it Normal for Babies to Eat Their Poop?
It’s totally natural for babies to accidentally ingest their own poop. Some babies — such as those transitioning to solid foods — might explore and eat their poop out of curiosity. Eating poop, medically referred to as coprophagia, is rarely cause for concern.
Babies will sometimes eat meconium, the first type of stool passed by a newborn. Meconium is thick and sticky, and composed of everything a baby ingested while in the womb, including:
- Amniotic fluid
- Lanugo (fine hair)
- Skin cells
- Digested milk and other fluids
When a baby ingests meconium, it’s not the same as consuming poop. Most babies are unbothered by meconium and do not develop any digestive problems.
Feces are a completely different matter than meconium, as they contain bacteria and other waste products. Eating feces can put babies at risk for certain diseases such as salmonella and shigella. It’s not common, but there is also a potential risk of infection or disease if a baby consumes another animal’s stool.
Keeping Babies Safe
To prevent your baby from eating their own or another animal’s poop, it’s important to:
- Change diapers promptly
- Wash hands often
- Thoroughly clean all diaper changing materials
- Wash off all surfaces that may have come in contact with feces
It’s best to keep a close eye on your baby if they’re curious about their poop and playing with their diaper. Remove any toys, such as rattles and stuffed animals, from the diaper changing area if you suspect your baby may have put them in their mouth.
When to Call Your Pediatrician
Even if your baby does eat their poop occasionally, it’s usually not a cause for concern. However, if your baby is exhibiting any signs of illness, you should contact your pediatrician. Be sure to inform your doctor of your baby’s health history and any potential exposures to feces.
It’s important to remember that while eating poop is generally a cause for concern, it can happen in healthy babies. If this is happening to your child, there’s no need to panic. Contact your pediatrician if you have any questions or concerns.