Yes, drinking too much milk can make a toddler’s poop turn white. Everything that we eat and drink can affect the color of our poop, and sometimes completely changes the color.
For example, if a child eats a lot of peas, it can turn their poop a pea-green color. This also applies to adults. However, there are a lot of things that can turn poop a different color. White poop in toddlers can signal a problem with major organs too.
Because of this, it’s important to know what can cause a change in stool color, when to call the pediatrician, and other signs or symptoms to watch out for.
In this article
- When To Call The Pediatrician
- Non-Serious Medical Issues That Can Cause White Poop In Toddlers
- Serious Medical Issues That Cause White Poop In Toddlers
- So, Is White Poop In Toddlers Normal?
When To Call The Pediatrician
It’s important to call your pediatrician any time that you are concerned. Granted, white poop does happen when you drink too much milk, but this is also not as common as you would think.
It can be hard to determine whether white poop in a toddler is from drinking too much milk, or another serious problem. A pediatrician can verify that there are no other underlying medical causes behind the white stool.
It’s always a good idea to give your pediatrician a call if you notice white stool to make sure that there is nothing seriously wrong with your toddler.
While it’s true that there are plenty of things that can cause white poop in toddlers, such as a side effect from medicine, there are also plenty of concerning things that can cause pale stool. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Non-Serious Medical Issues That Can Cause White Poop In Toddlers
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If there is a medical reason, it’s important not to ignore it. However, every toddler that has white poop is most likely not in the midst of organ failure or a serious medical emergency.
These issues are still medical issues that may need to be addressed, but they are nothing to lose sleepover. Common reasons for white poop are:
- Milk protein allergy
- Lactose intolerance
- A side effect of antacids
- Having contrast X-rays done
- Gastrointestinal infection
Milk Protein Allergy Can Cause Paler Than Normal Stools
Sometimes, children are allergic to a protein in milk. This is seen in babies that have a hard time digesting milk-based formula. It’s also seen in toddlers.
It causes the poop to be white because it is digested so quickly, and the stool is formed almost immediately after the milk is ingested. Other common symptoms of a milk protein allergy include:
- Upset stomach
- Stomach cramps
- Change in stool color
Typically, most of the symptoms that your toddler will have will be related to their digestion system and located in the tummy area. You can pick up soy milk, coconut milk, almond milk, or rice milk as a substitute.
All Milk Diet Will Turn Toddler Poop White
An all milk diet can cause some disruptions in the digestive system. Because nothing is going through the digestive system except for milk, it can result in the poop turning white in a toddler.
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Most parents don’t intentionally put their little one on an all-milk diet without being told to by a pediatrician. However, there are a lot of parents that do this unintentionally.
If your child is a picky eater, they might not be eating enough but be drinking plenty of milk. Another common reason this happens is simply that your baby loves milk and it’s not a good idea to get into power struggles over food.
The end result is your little one will eat significantly less, but still drink plenty of milk. If this is a problem, consider cutting back on the amount of milk that they drink. Instead, offer other drinks.
Water is best for babies. If your child refuses to drink water throughout the day, consider picking them up a variety of drinks. For example, toddlers can drink:
- A few ounces of fruit juice a day
- V8 splash (this provides the vitamins that are in vegetables but tastes like fruit juice)
- Flavored water
- Water enhancements (they make water enhancers that are sugar-free)
Offering them different choices can help entice them to drink something aside from milk, which can save you from those temper tantrums that go hand in hand with toddlers.
Lactose Intolerance Can Make Some Poop White
Lactose intolerance is almost the same as your little one not being able to digest a protein in milk. This just means that they specifically cannot digest lactose, which is in all cow’s milk.
The symptoms are also similar. If your little one is lactose intolerant, they may have had to be on soy formula or had symptoms of lactose intolerance as a baby. Symptoms of a toddler being lactose intolerant include:
- Change in poop color, such as white poop
- Stomach upset
- Stomach cramps
- Having to poop soon after drinking milk or milk products, such as a milkshake
Some little ones will experience one of these symptoms, and others will experience all of them. Everyone is different when it comes to the symptoms of lactose intolerance that they experience.
If your little one is lactose intolerant, switching out their milk for a substitute is usually the best idea. Soy milk is recommended, but some little ones don’t care for the taste.
Most people that are lactose intolerant can still eat cheese, eggs, and yogurt that is Lactaid free. There is also soy-based ice cream that doesn’t taste too bad. (Source: I’m slightly lactose intolerant.)
Speaking of being lactose intolerant, it’s important to note that there seems to be a spectrum. For example, some children are so sensitive that they cannot have any milk or foods made with milk.
Other little ones might be able to have mashed potatoes made with milk but be unable to drink a cup of milk. There may be a bit of trial and error to see where your toddler falls on the spectrum.
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Likewise, there seems to be a spectrum when a person becomes lactose intolerant. This can show up in babies, or not until children are toddlers.
Some toddlers will be fine, but teenagers might not be able to drink milk. It does vary, so it’s possible for your little one to become lactose intolerant even if they weren’t before.
White Poop In Toddlers Is A Side Effect Of Antacids
Antacids, which are frequently used to treat heartburn and occasionally indigestion that is caused by too much acid in the stomach.
Many of these come with the side effect of white stool. If your toddler is on antacids daily, double-check the side effects that the particular antacid they are taking can cause.
Contrast X-Rays Can Result In White Stool
There is a white, chalky substance that you have to drink before a contrast X-ray. Typically, a doctor will order this to get a better view of the organs and things inside the body.
Contrast CAT scans are also common, and you do occasionally have to drink this substance for them as well. One of the most common side effects of this is having a white stool. It should pass soon, but it doesn’t hurt to call the doctor and double-check.
Gastrointestinal Infection Is Less Common But Possible
If your little one just had a stomach bug or infection in their stomach that included plenty of diarrhea, you might see some white or pale yellow stool after they are sick.
This is because there isn’t enough bacteria and bile in their gut yet to make their poop brown. It should return back to a normal color shortly.
Serious Medical Issues That Cause White Poop In Toddlers
Sometimes, there are serious medical problems that cause white stool. These call for a phone call to your pediatrician, and maybe a trip to the emergency room. This is because there are several things that contribute to the color of your little one’s stool.
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Gallstones Prevent Bile Flow, Which Causes White Poop
Your gallbladder is designed to release bile into your intestines to aid with digestion. This bile can also help give poop it’s color. If there are gallstones in the gallbladder, they can get stuck, preventing bile from being released.
This often requires removal of the gallbladder and should be taken very seriously. If the gallstones make their way out of the gallbladder, they can get stuck along the way to the intestines.
Several other organs use the same tube to send things to the intestines and the rest of the body. When a gallstone gets stuck, other organs might not be able to function properly, resulting in organ failure that can be fatal.
Other symptoms of gallstones include:
- Back pain in between your shoulder blades
- Sudden pain in the upper right part of your abdomen
- Sudden pain in the central area of your abdomen
Sometimes, gallstones can occur with little or no symptoms at all. When I had gallstones, the only symptom I had was nausea. I was sick to my stomach for an entire month. My doctor finally ordered a full-body CAT scan with contrast dye and found the gallstones.
If gallstones are not treated, it can cause a wealth of problems. Infected bile ducts or blocked ducts are the most common complications and may be life-threatening.
Those with untreated gallstones are also more likely to get cancer in their gallbladder. Because this can show almost no symptoms, it’s important that you rule this out with your pediatrician.
Biliary Atresia Is A Rare Liver Disease In Infants That Causes White Poop
The bile in the gallbladder is originally produced in the liver. Then, it is released through ducts to make it’s way to the gallbladder. In some babies, the ducts do not develop or function properly. This results in a condition known as biliary atresia.
When an infant has biliary atresia, the bile that is produced in the liver cannot be released. Instead, it is stuck in the liver. Eventually, the liver becomes too full of bile, which damages the liver. It can cause significant damage to other organs too.
Most babies that have biliary atresia will show symptoms when they are 2-6 weeks old, with jaundice being the most common symptom seen.
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Biliary atresia is a disease of the liver, which may require a liver transplant. If it is not treated properly, it can be fatal. This condition is not typically seen in older children and is rare in babies. Symptoms of Biliary Atresia include:
- Dark-colored urine
- Weight loss
- Swollen stomach
- Pale or white poop
This is a very serious condition that can be fatal if left untreated. If you notice these symptoms in your infant, contact your pediatrician immediately.
Tumors That Block The Flow Of Bile Cause White Poop
When the flow of bile is blocked to the intestines, it can result in white poop in toddlers. Tumors are one of the things that can cause this. If they are in a particular location, they will block the bile from reaching its destination.
Unfortunately, tumors don’t always have symptoms. Benign tumors may present no symptoms at all.
Cancerous tumors might make a person feel more tired, but also might not present any other symptoms aside from those that indicate that the bile is not getting to the stomach.
Scans such as X-rays or CAT scans are often needed for a diagnosis. This is why it’s important to contact your pediatrician.
So, Is White Poop In Toddlers Normal?
No, it’s not. It may be normal if a child has experienced this before due to being lactose intolerant and someone else gave them a milkshake.
However, if you have not already had this problem and determined the cause, it is far from normal. Because of this, you should always consult a pediatrician to make sure that your little one is okay.
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