Advice Column, Pregnancy & Baby

Spit, snot and poo. Overcoming your fears

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Let’s be honest. All babies do it and we knew for a fact that as dads we would have to deal with it sooner or later. And if you were anything like me, the mere thought of having to deal with any of these would have sent me running for the nearest hazmat suit to keep me protected.

But once you actually hold the little bundle of joy in your hands, you come to the realisation that there is not a thing in this world that you would not do for your baby. And that’s when you man up and handle anything that gets thrown at you. Or leaks out. Or maybe even projectile vomited at you.

So why is it that the things that some of us fear the most from babies are the things that are natural for them? Maybe if we knew a more, we would fear less.

The never ending fountain of spit.

This wondrous wonder comes in two different forms and from two different places. Clear saliva (drool) comes from the mouth while spit (whitish in colour and usually happens during or after feeding) comes from the tummy. Excessive drool usually is a sign of teething i.e. teeth pushing up through the gum. Drool also helps babies develop and grow. The drool they swallow helps neutralise stomach acid, lines and soothes the oesophageal lining and helps digest solid food. Spitting up (or vomit) is usually a result of GER or gastroesophageal reflux. This happens because the muscles at the bottom of oesophagus which lets food into the stomach is weak and allows food to escape back up.

Whichever one it is, always have spare sets of clothing nearby, a burp cloth and about a million bibs because you are going to be changing these all the time.

Is it clear or green? The snot question.

If your toddler has clear stuff coming out of their nose, everything should be fine and this could point to newborn congestion (all the gunk is just working its way out), allergies, exposed to the cold or smoke. If the discharge is greenish or yellowish, your little one could have a cold or the flu. Bleeding from the nose, unpleasant smelling gunk (no idea why I said “unpleasant” because that would imply you get “pleasant” smelling gunk) and pain could mean that your baby has managed to find something small and stashed it in a secret hiding place for later. It may be tricky to stop the flow, but knowing what’s causing it may help you in treating it. Various items such as nasal aspirators, rubber bulb syringes and saline solution may ease the congestion. I even read of one mum who placed her mouth over the baby’s nose and just sucked it out! And like everything else, if you are not sure or concerned, seek professional advice.

The truth about baby poop.

“Where’s does it all come from? She just pooped a minute ago! She pooped again WHILE I was changing her nappy! I don’t remember him eating that!”

These are questions that all parents go through. Each baby is different and therefore all bodily functions will be different. While most babies poo everyday, it is also acceptable for babies to poo every three days. Babies who are fed on formula, poo less often than breast fed babies. The first few poos after baby is born are always almost black and sticky (called the meconium and sometimes require an entire packet of wet wipes to clean). The poo than becomes greenish brown and turns to bright mustard colour afterwards. Examining your babies nappy, and trust me you eventually will with a fine tooth comb, provides a wealth of information about their state of health. Overly runny stools may indicate diarrhoea and pellet like stools may indicate constipation. Red, black and white stools require an immediate consultation with you doctor as red poo usually contains blood in it, black poo usually contains digested blood and white poo indicates a problem with bile production. My suggestions for handling poo is DO NOT take a deep breath and just deal with it. Within a few weeks you will be an expert on diaper changing and even have a routine you will follow. I was a bit OCD about diaper changes and would lay out everything beforehand (wet wipes, cotton swabs, nappies, bum cream and plastic bag for the dirty nappy) like I was preparing an operating theatre. The last thing you would want is a case of explosive diarrhoea (oh yes, that is a real thing!) and only to find it is the last wet wipe in the packet.

So… spit, snot and poo. Every parent eventually gets over their fears and deals with it. The person who may have once started off armed with a gas mask and a pair of braai thongs for a diaper change now finds themselves scarily comfortable discussing the colour and consistency of their baby’s poo. Your fears are overcome and anything that leaks, is projectile vomited or has the radioactive smell of a nuclear explosion will be caught with a wet wipe, tissue and in extreme cases even your bare hands. That is the strength of unconditional love and joy.

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