Some kids love talking about poop. Some kids are embarrassed talking about poop. Some kids make poop jokes. The reality is, everybody poops. And in the doctor’s office, it is a safe poop talk zone. In fact, we want you to talk about poop. So let’s get to know poop. We’ll talk the ins and outs of poop with the help of a cute poop chart. Then we’ll talk about how to keep a poop diary and finish with a discussion about fiber.
Get to Know Poop
Poop comes in all different shapes and colors. The way it is shaped and the texture of the poop gives us a window into what is happening in the gut. Most colors of poop are ok. Sometimes it can turn funny colors if you eat something with a lot color such as beets or artificial dyes. If it is chalk white, tarry black or has bright red blood – those would all be reasons to call the doctor.
Now when it comes to texture, if it is dry or hard it is called constipation. You can still be constipated even if you are going everyday or more than once a day. If it is watery, it’s called diarrhea.
There is a way to rate poop called the Bristol Stool Chart. This chart gives each poop a rating on how hard or soft it is. It makes it easier for us doctors to understand what’s going on without you having to take a picture of your poop or describe it in great embarrassing detail.
The Cute Poop Chart
The trouble with entering “ Bristol Stool Chart” into Google is the drawings look so realistic that they scare kids away. In fact, they almost scare ME away! So for years I have tried to find a cute Bristol Stool Chart online and there was not one to be found…until now.
I present to you the first CUTE Bristol Stool Chart, AKA the Cute Poop Chart where the poop look like cartoon characters and teach kids about their poop. They show kids how to give their poop a rating so they don’t have to call, “MO-O-OM! Come look at my poop!”
OK, well they still might do that.
The goal is to have at least one poop everyday. A number four is ideal. You can tell because he is happy and ready to party. Did you see his party hat?
There are a few things you can do to have happy poops. Eat plenty of fruit, veggies, beans, whole grains, nuts and seeds. Milk and other dairy products are constipating. So is a diet high in processed food, low in plant based foods and refined grains with little fiber. It is also very important to drink plenty of water, stay active, get enough sleep, and stay relaxed.
Start a Poop Diary
For kids who suffer from poop troubles, I often ask them to keep a poop diary so I can tell how often they are going. Because, really, do you actually remember if you went poop last Monday? This diary is easy to understand, and you can keep it on a clipboard in the bathroom so kids can discreetly mark what their poop looks like each day of the week.
High Fiber Foods
Remember my talk about the gut microbiome and the importance of fiber? I use this talk to convince kids to eat fruits and veggies. If you haven’t seen it, check it out here. If you are a pediatrician, try it with your patients and see if it works. Parents, you too!
So the last piece of information I have to share with you is a list of high fiber food. Because, remember, the bacteria that make up our gut microbiome like fiber. And ultimately their happiness is what leads to a happy poop. So eating enough fiber will lead to those daily happy number fours.
There is not a specific fiber intake guideline for kids but a general guideline that can be used for kids older than two years of age is:
Age (years) + 5 to 10 grams per day (maximum 30 g/day)I.e., a 10 year old would get 10 + 5 To 10+10 = 15-20 grams a day
To get more specific information about what serving size of each type food would equal how many grams of fiber, please look at this page from Health.gov Dietary Guidelines.
*A note on fiber supplements. I recommend getting a variety of plant foods to get enough fiber as the optimal way to get fiber. If getting it in real food is still a challenge for your child, have a conversation with your doctor about fiber supplements.
How to Get the Cute Poop Kit
I have to admit, I had fun making these graphics. Not only are they cute, but they are so practical to both parents and pediatricians. I know how much I need them in my office and if you are a healthcare professional that treats kids in primary care or GI, you need these too.
Guess what? The full size printable PDF versions are free for you to use and print as a handout for your patients or kids, post on your bulletin board, or laminate for reuse every week.
All you have to do is click on this link, enter your email and it’s yours.
Now go forth, and let’s get these kids to have a happy poop!