Why is My Kid's Poop Green?

Discolored and green poop in infants, toddlers and children

Believe it or not, normal poop is any shade of brown, tan, yellow or green.

Seeing that your child has strange or discolored stool can be disconcerting, but don’t panic. There are many possible explanations for unusual or green poop, and most of them aren’t cause for concern.

In most cases, the culprit for discolored stool will be something your child ate, such as food coloring, food additives and/or dietary changes.

If your child has diarrhea, food passes more quickly through the digestive system and doesn’t have time to be fully processed. This can cause poop to come out the same color as the food that went in. Green diarrhea is common in children and is very rarely a sign of a medical concern.

Causes: Green poop

  • Green poop in kids can be caused by green foods including Jell-O, fruit snacks, spinach and leafy vegetables.
  • Green poop in infants is more common for formula-fed than breastfed infants, but is still normal in both.
  • Some medicines, including iron, can cause green poop in kids.
  • Dark green poop or green diarrhea can also be caused by bile. Bile is common in diarrhea illnesses, and in normal breastfed stools in the first two months after birth.
  • While dark green poop or green diarrhea may look black on first glance, any color of green poop is not cause for concern.

Causes: Yellow poop

  • Yellow stool in children can be caused by certain foods. These include yellow Jell-O, yellow fruit snacks and other yellow foods.
    Yellow poop is also common among both formula-fed and breastfed infants.

Red, black or white poop

In some cases, stool that is red, black or white can be cause for concern and your child might need to see a medical professional.

Causes: Red poop

  • Red poop can be caused by many red foods including red Jell-O, red Kool-Aid, red candy, beets, cherries, cranberries, red peppers, tomato juice, tomato soup and more.
  • Red poop can also be caused by some medicines, including Amoxicillin and Omnicef.
  • In less than 10 percent of cases, red stool is caused by blood, typically from the lower intestine. If you suspect your child’s red stool is caused from blood, be sure to consult with a doctor immediately.

Causes: Black Poop

  • Black poop can be caused by black foods, including licorice, oreo cookies or grape juice.
  • Some medicines can cause black poop, including iron and Pepto-Bismol.
  • Black stool can also be caused by bleeding in the stomach or upper intestine, in which case your child should see a doctor.

Causes: White or Light Gray Poop

  • White poop can be caused by foods or restrictive diets, including an all-milk diet.
  • Some medicines, including antacids and barium sulfate, can cause white poop.
  • In very rare cases, white stool can be a sign of liver disease. In these instances, your child should see a doctor.

Medical Care and When to See a Doctor

If you think your child’s discolored poop might be cause for concern, there are several steps you can take at home before contacting a doctor.

Avoid any food or drinks that you think might be causing the discoloration. Monitor your child’s stool to make sure it returns to a normal color within 48 hours after removing any problematic food or drinks.

If your child’s stool doesn’t return to normal, save a sample for evaluation by a medical professional. If possible, the sample should be refrigerated.

Should you call a doctor?

If your child looks, acts or reports feeling ill, or if his or her poop is discolored for a period of several days and doesn’t return to normal within 48 hours of eliminating problem foods, consult a doctor.

For more information, call Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children at (720) 754-1000.