For real, let’s talk about Kid POOP. Because it doesn’t get enough press! Dr. Song talks about kids’ poop with every patient at every visit. You’re going to love this interview!
Dr. Elisa Song, MD, holistic pediatrician, joins me today with some very important instruction for parents and kids about WHY we need to be aware of our kid’s poop each day, what to look for in a healthy poop, and what “text messages” our poop is sending us.
Once we learn to interpret the language of poop, we might need her tips on:
- How gut health impacts our brains and immune system and alllll the many ailments that likely begins in the gut
- Kicking constipation naturally (she explains why Miralax is NOT a good solution)
- How to find a good probiotic
- Best exercise for good digestion
- What happens to our digestion when we literally “eat on the run”
Can’t see the video? Click to watch “What is Your Kids’ Poo Telling You” on YouTube.
No time to watch the whole video? Here are the notes!
What’s your kids’ poop telling you? Video Time Stamps
- 0:08: Dr. Elisa Song is a holistic pediatrician from California. She’s an MD, but she balances that with an integrative approach including functional medicine, herbs, acupuncture, and essential oils.
- 0:57: I don’t know that it’s totally normal that parents are watching their child’s poo, especially after they’re potty trained. Why should we care and what can we learn?
Normal Kids’ Poop
- 1:36: A lot of kids (and adults) don’t know what is normal when it comes to their poop. There are some guidelines. The Bristol Stool Chart gives 7 categories. The ideal poop is number 3 or 4. A sausage with some cracks or a smooth soft long snake/sausage/banana.
- 3:42: Number 1 or 2 on the scale are too hard. These are the pebble like lumps of poop, or a formed sausage that is made of little pebbles rather than being cohesive.
- 4:08: Numbers 5-7 are too loose. This looks like soft blobs, fluffy and formless, or runny liquid. One or two wipes is ideal. If you have to wipe again and again and again, your stool is too soft.
Just think, “Soft, brown banana.” -Dr. Elisa Song
- 5:20: Frequency varies, but ideally you want to be going 1-2 times a day. It’s ok to vary from this time frame as long as poop remains in a “soft, brown banana.”
What Kids’ Poop Communicates
- 5:47: Your poop and your gut health tells us so much about how your brain is working and how your immune system is working. Our gut has been called our “second brain” and “the heart of the immune system.”
- 6:42: We have tonsil like patches that line our entire GI tract and communicate with our immune system. Our gut houses over 70 trillion bacteria! They let our immune system know what to attack and what is ok. Abnormalities in our poop give us clues as to what is going on in our guts.
- 7:36: Most of our neurotransmitters (like serotonin and dopamine) are made in the gut by probiotics.
We want healthy gut bugs. We want healthy poop. We want healthy digestion. -Dr. Elisa Song
- 8:16: Even if a kid’s tummy doesn’t hurt and they have fairly normal poops, they can still have gut issues if they exhibit symptoms like asthma, allergies, eczema, autism, ADHD, anxiety or autoimmune illness.
- 8:38: Our poop is like an email or text message that our gut sends us every day to let us know what’s going on. Pay attention to any alarm bells before other problems pop up.
- 9:15: So many kids are constipated these days. Kids are being put on Miralax even as toddlers and take it for years and years. This has never been proven safe for use in children under age 17, and it has not been approved for long term use. We have no idea what the long term effects are.
Troubleshooting Kids’ Poop
- 10:41: Lifestyle and diet are two huge contributing factors to constipation.
- 10:48: Stress is ubiquitous in our society, even among children. Kids get stuck in the sympathetic nervous system or “fight or flight” mode. If you’re constantly on alert, you don’t have time to relax enough to poop. We need to slow down.
- 12:37: The Standard American Diet (SAD) full of additives, sugar and gluten drive constipation. Too much dairy and sugar are two big culprits.
We’ve created this problem and we know how to fix it if we really put our minds to it. -Dr. Elisa Song
- 13:25: The parasympathetic (rest and digest) and sympathetic (fight or flight) nervous systems are mutually incompatible. If you’re running, your digestion can’t be. Especially while we’re eating we need to slow down, sit down and let our systems work.
- 13:57: Eating real food, focusing on homecooked meals, eating meals as a family and eating mindfully are all ways we can improve digestion. We don’t want to be eating on the way to soccer practice or work.
- 14:59: Most kids and adults are deficient in magnesium. This mineral helps us relax and softens stools. It is in dark chocolate, dark green leafy vegetables and nuts and seeds. Epsom salt baths also allow your skin to absorb magnesium. Supplements can also be used if necessary.
- 15:41: Many people are chronically dehydrated. A good rule of thumb is to take your body weight in pounds, divide by two and that’s how many ounces you want to drink in a normal day. On a day when you’re hot and sweaty it will be more. For kids it’s helpful to have a clear visual measure for them, i.e. this water bottle filled up two times.
- 16:55: Exercise is also key. Many kids are sitting in school and then sitting on screens all day. We need our legs to be pumping and moving to move our poop along. Go on a hike or walk, ride bikes, get outdoors and exercise as a family. As long as you use a trampoline safely, they are great for moving things along.
There are many ways to get outdoors and enjoy exercise together as a family. -Dr. Elisa Song
- 18:04: Getting enough fiber through fruits and vegetables is important. 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day is ideal. The easiest way to achieve this is to incorporate vegetables at every meal and snack.
- 19:02: Dairy is one of the number one culprits for constipation. Do a trial for 2 weeks and get rid of all forms of dairy and see what happens. Usually cow’s milk is worse than other types of milk.
- 20:03: Brain fog and behavioral issues are linked to constipation. Your poop is your body’s way of getting rid of garbage. If you don’t take out the garbage for a week bad things happen. When we don’t poop, we don’t feel well because we’re holding onto all the garbage in our bodies.
Kids’ Poop and Reflux
- 21:16: Reflux is an increasing problem in children. Infants are being put on medications for it. This is a sign that your baby’s gut may be dysregulated. A study came out in April 2018 that showed that children given antibiotics or antacids within the first 6 months of life had a hugely increased rate of every allergic disease by the time they were 4!
We can heal your child’s gut and we can reverse a lot of what’s happened. -Dr. Elisa Song
Meal Planning Struggles?
Need a little help getting healthy food on the table every day?
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- 23:05: If you have a baby with reflux, try some other things before pharmaceuticals. Baby probiotics, chamomile tea for the nursing mom, and acupressure can get digestion flowing in the right direction. Find Dr. Song’s baby reflux video here. (She shows the acupressure points referenced at the 29 minute mark.)
- 23:58: Many times kids don’t even realize they have poop or digestive issues. There might not be super obvious digestive symptoms even when there is a gut imbalance. We know symptoms like eczema, autoimmune illness, sensory processing issues, behavioral concerns, autism, ADHD, anxiety, and sleep concerns are all linked to gut health.
- 25:26: If kids are having any gut problems they should be taking probiotics. There are specific infant probiotics made for children under 2. Once they’re 3 they can take the same probiotic as an adult. Sauerkraut, kefir, cultured yogurts, and fermented pickles are all sources of probiotics as well.
- 26:38: We do a lot in our culture to hurt our guts, but there is hope! There are so many things we can do through diet, supplements and lifestyle. Start where you are and begin creating new habits that move you towards health.
Our bodies know how to move in the right direction if we give them the chance. -Dr. Elisa Song
- 27:50: Our bodies are designed to move towards health, but we have to know what is blocking health so we can intervene.
- 29:11: We leave you with the challenge of figuring out one baby step you can take this week.
Kids’ Poop Resources We Mention
- Bristol Stool Chart
- Poo Keeper App
- Dr. Song’s blog post Oh, Crap
- My post on natural alternatives to beat constipation
- An alternative to Miralax
- FREE probiotic guide for kids from Dr. Song
- Great choice for an infant probiotic: WellBelly on Amazon
- Dr. Song talks more about infant reflux relief here.
- 3 part Facebook series on healthy gut in kids: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.
- My post about how to ferment vegetables
- Buddies in my Belly is a book to teach kids about probiotics
She is a Stanford-, NYU-, UCSF-trained holistic pediatrician. After attending the Institute for Functional Medicine, she integrates conventional pediatrics with functional medicine, holistic nutrition, homeopathy, acupuncture, herbal medicine, and essential oils. She’s also a lecturer for the Center for Education and Development in Clinical Homeopathy (CEDH), Academy for Pain Research, Institute for Functional Medicine, and Holistic Pediatric Association.
If you don’t live near Dr. Song in California, find a functional medicine practitioner here.
OR better yet, work with her online through her course! The Facebook group for members if one of the most active I’ve seen, with dozens of moms getting solid health advice every week. If you love asking questions rather than sifting through the Internet’s worth of info when your kids are sick, this is definitely for you!
Disclosure: I am an affiliate for Dr. Song’s course, but that doesn’t change your price nor the valuable info she shared with our community!
What You Should Do Next:
1. Subscribe to The Healthy Parenting Connector
2. Try a Free Preview of my Cooking Class for Kids
Our members’ favorite lesson is always our 10-minute knife skills and safety class, teaching techniques with unique & memorable phrases from butter knives to chef’s knives (ages 2-teen). Take a peek here and try it out with your kids.
3. Enroll in the Online Cooking Course for Kids:
About Katie Kimball
Katie Kimball, CSME, creator of Kids Cook Real Food and CEO of Kitchen Stewardship, LLC, is passionate about connecting families around healthy food. As a trusted educator and author of 8 real food cookbooks, she’s been featured on media outlets like ABC, NBC and First for Women magazine and contributes periodically on the FOX Network.
Since 2009, busy moms have looked to Katie as a trusted authority and advocate for children’s health, and she often partners with health experts and medical practitioners to stay on the cutting edge. In 2016 she created the Wall Street Journal recommended best online kids cooking course, Kids Cook Real Food, helping thousands of families around the world learn to cook. She is actively masterminding the Kids’ Meal Revolution, with a goal of every child learning to cook.
A mom of 4 kids from Michigan, she is also a Certified Stress Mastery Educator, member of the American Institute of Stress and trained speaker through Bo Eason’s Personal Story Power.