Chicago mom shares her obsession with her kids’ poop

Shhh, I have a secret. I’m obsessed with my kids’ poop.

I had a dietician friend once tell me, “Well what goes in must come out, right?” And while there is truth to that, I never thought there would come a day that I would be a PPA (Professional Poop Analyst). I’ve even gotten to the point that I have my husband trained to report back to me the deets on my kids’ poop. It is something he’d rather not add to his parental resume but how is this for a text from your husband?

Husband: Son pooped in the potty, solid, good and healthy, now he’s sleeping.

Me: Good. Glad it is getting better, keep me posted.

Yep, he’s a professional PPA now, too. Makes me proud.

I happened to be sitting next to a friend in a conference who is a fellow PPA when this text came to me. I showed it to her, she chuckled and gave me the thumbs up. Yes, I’m not the only one out there (You know who you are!). And yes, I have trained others, in case you were wondering.

When my daughter was first born and I got the low down on what breastfed babies poop is supposed to look like, I wanted to make sure she was, well, normal. As a first time mom I looked at all her diapers knowing that by day three or four her poop would change color. Whew, what a relief when it did. I tell ya, the stresses of being a new mom. I also remember when my daughter had her first solid poop. When I was changing her diaper I thought, “Aww, she’s becoming a human.” It’s was like she was a mammal from a different species or something.

Then came my son. He had issues from the get-go. Bloody streaks in his diaper scared me because I knew that it indicated a food allergy. I showed my husband so he could keep on the lookout for those streaks. He was a little freaked out, but he listened to my commands. I took the small amount of dairy I had in my diet out and the bloody streaks went away. Then he suffered from constipation around 5 months but a little cooked organic pears did the trick. But something didn’t happen for him like it did for my daughter; his poops never changed, formed or became solid. I did not understand why, but knew it was linked to his diet and so I had to do some continuing education to keep my PPA credits up.

As gross as “What goes in must come out” sounds, what comes out really does tell a story on what is going on in our insides. The more I read around, the more I learned about the perfect poop. There are charts on what is supposed to be normal, like the Bristol Stool Chart. While it’s a good start, it only tells you the beginning of the story.

So, what is your poop story? Let’s chat:

Floating poops? Ah, don’t worry. That just means you have trapped gas in your stools, which is most likely caused from a diet low in fiber and refined sugars. Once you begin to eat more fiber from fruits and veggies, and grains from insoluble fiber, your poop will sink to the bottom, which it should.

Poop that is so stinky it makes you light a match? And it floats? That is a sign of malabsorption of nutrients in combination with a diet high in processed foods and low in fiber and good fats. This is most likely caused by imbalanced gut bacteria, trapped small intestinal bacteria overgrowth and possible food sensitivities.

Soft and smelly and leaves some skid marks? This is caused by increased fat in the stools called steatorrhea. This may also mean there’s not enough good bacteria in the gut so if this is a constant thing, then you want to talk to your doctor about it. The inability to properly digest fats can lead to a deficiency in Vitamins A, D, E and K, all of which can lead to various diseases affecting the pancreas or the gallbladder.

Pooping rabbit turds? That is easy: constipation. You should be going to the bathroom once daily. Healthy folks will sometimes even go twice per day. This means you need more water, fiber and exercise to help move things along. Adding some probiotics, chia and grounded flaxseeds will help, too. But don’t rely on laxatives. Over time it will make your colon less efficient in doing its job. Check out my Homemade Miralax Recipe: Pearberry Smoothie. Moms swear by it.

Yellow stools? Take caution. This is common with folks who suffer from acid-reflux or GERD. It means food is passing too quickly in the digestive tract. It can also mean insufficient bile output which means you are not breaking down fats properly. Poop gets its brown color from the bile made in the gallbladder and when output decreases, stools turn yellow.

Black and red stools? Head straight to the doctor. Unless you ate beets recently, this is a clear warning sign that you need to get further evaluation and something more severe is going on inside.

There you have it, now you know how and why I am a PPA. It wasn’t until recently, after I discovered sensitivity in my son’s diet, that my son’s bowels became mostly normal. If your child is not pooping normal, take a look at the possibilities. Diet, water intake and exercise all play big roles. Talk to your doctor if it doesn’t get better after that. A Pediatric Gastroenterologist (GI) may even be your best bet because most doctors don’t fully understand what it means to have a healthy poop.

Want more scoop on your poop? You can earn your PPA certificate from the University of Google, too.

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