Barely two months after we started working with Dr. Tom to treat Charlie's constipation and potty training phobia, Charlie is 1000% improved. I can't believe how long Charlie suffered, and how quickly he improved.

I can't recommend enough Dr. Tom's book, The Ins And Outs of Poop. One helpful tip in the book was that there are seven types of poop. You can see them on something called the Bristol Stool Chart, and finding out about this was a revelation.

WARNING: if you read any further in this post you are going to see illustrations of poop. However, they are just illustrations - not pictures of the real thing.  And I promise that it's worth it... learning about this stuff has made me much more able to manage our kids' bouts of constipation!

Here is the Bristol Stool Chart in all of its glory: 


source: Wikipedia

This chart was hugely helpful for us. It helped us not only assess Charlie's problems with functional constipation, but it is also helpful in figuring out more general problems with the occasional constipation that Olive gets as well.

Here are some rules of thumb that Dr. Tom shared regarding the 7 types of poop that we found especially helpful with our kids.

1. Type 1 poop is the infamous "rabbit pellet" poop. It is very clear watching both of our kids that Type 1 poop is the most painful type of poop! Pain can lead to a poop phobia and functional constipation, so definitely take Type 1 poops seriously!
2. Types 1 and 2 poops can be indicative of constipation. Even Type 3 poops can be a sign of constipation!
3. A Type 4 poop is very good news!
4. It can be hard to analyze a poop once it's all mushed in a diaper. One helpful tip: Type 1, 2 and even Type 3 poops don't usually get mushed in a diaper. They're hard enough (and dry enough) that they retain their shape in a diaper. So if you see a mushed poop, it's probably a Type 4 poop or beyond.

The darkness of poop is also really helpful when assessing constipation. As Dr. Tom put it in his Hellobee interview, "Dark brown stool is dark because it’s been held in the large intestine longer than it should; it’s continuing to dry. If you see black or almost black stool you should talk with your pediatrician right away."

If you're worried that your child may be suffering from occasional constipation, you may want to start keeping a stool record that includes the type of poop (according to the Bristol Stool Chart). That should be really helpful in figuring out whether or not your LO is constipated... which can help you determine if they're at risk for functional constipation. 23% of kids who suffer from occasional constipation will develop functional constipation at some point, so it's definitely worth being vigilant! Dang, wish I had known all this before Charlie suffered for so long this past year...

Definitely talk to your doctor if you're worried about your child being constipated. A word of warning: many pediatricians don't take constipation seriously, so be ready to do your own research and talk to other doctors in your practice!

Do you recognize these 7 types of poop from your little one's diaper? Have your kids ever been constipated?

ps If you haven't already, you can get a copy of the PDF of our interview with Dr. Tom about childhood constipation! Just input your email below and we will send you a PDF of the interview.

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We're also pulling together a longer free course on childhood constipation, and will send that to you when it's ready.

ed note: The information on this site is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, and is for education purposes only. Always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.