Should you worry if your child’s poop is the size of a baseball? Sometimes the huge size of a child’s bowel movements has their parents worrying that something is wrong.
The color of a child’s stools can indicate a health problem, but what about size, as in…gigantic?
“In general, large stools are nothing to worry about,” says Joel Gator Warsh, MD, of Integrative Pediatrics and Medicine, Studio City, CA, and part of the pediatric staff of Cedars-Sinai Hospital.
“Stool size and consistency vary considerably in children, and there is a wide range of what is considered normal in pediatrics,” explains Dr. Warsh.
“I frequently have lengthy discussions with my families about what a ‘normal’ stool is.
“You are looking for a stool that has the consistency of soft-serve ice cream.
“Size of stool is not commonly discussed in medical training and we usually don’t focus on size.”
Child’s Poops As Big as a Baseball
“Extremely large stools can be a marker of constipation,” says Dr. Warsh. “If your child is constipated, stool will build up in the colon and rectum. When they eventually do go to the bathroom, the stool can be surprisingly massive.
“A standard American diet filled with sugar, wheat, dairy, dyes and preservatives can lead to constipation.”
An abbreviation for the standard American diet is, by no coincidence, SAD.
It is a sad diet that so many parents think is healthy, thanks to marketing sleight of hand by the manufacturers of foods targeted at kids.
For example, a TV ad campaign for Hidden Valley salad dressing creates the illusion that this liquid sugary candy is healthy for children.
And what kind of candy do you add milk to? CEREAL! Many cereals that are targeted at kids as being good for them have a lot of added sugar and are flour-based, plus have artificial colorings.
It’s literally candy you pour into a bowl and add milk to. The milk doesn’t undo the unhealthfulness of the cereal.
If your child with the giant poops eats pop tarts for breakfast, chocolate milk with his lunch of highly processed deli meats on Wonder Bread…gee – it’s no wonder his or her bowel movements come out huge and hard.
And don’t get me started on the myth that Pepperidge Farm’s gold fish are a healthy snack. These crackers come from a manufacturing plant, not a plant that grows from the ground.
See what happens to the size of your child’s stools when you replace snacks that come in a box, bag or package with snacks that are picked off a tree or vine or pulled from the ground.
If a child is hungry enough for an ice cream bar or Cheetos, she’s hungry enough for some grapes, cherries or an apple. Nuts and seeds also make healthy snacks.
SAD “has become the leading cause of abdominal pain in children, and one of the most common reasons for pediatric office visits,” says Dr. Warsh.
“It is becoming less common for children to have a regular stool pattern than be constipated.
“If you alter your normal gut flora and bacteria through a poor diet or infections, stool will be improperly digested and the belly will be inflamed. This leads to large, smelly, mucousy stools.”
Medical Cause of Huge Stools in Kids
Dr. Warsh explains, “Hirschsprung disease is an uncommon cause of massive stools. It is a condition where children are born with a small section of bowel missing the appropriate innervation [nerve cell firing].
“This is often identified in the first few months of life with chronic, severe constipation, but can be missed and identified at a later age.
“Because there is an area that does not have proper nerves, constipation is a major issue and ‘blowout stools’ are a common description for these children.”