Are your baby’s bowel movements frequent? Rare? Loose? Firm? Yellow, brown or multi-hued? Stinky or sweet?
The scoop on poop is that it is indeed an indicator of your baby’s well-being — so you’ll find yourself becoming quite obsessed with what’s in those dirty diapers.
It also comes in a wide variety of colors, consistencies and frequencies that are all considered healthy and “normal.” Find answers to all your pressing baby poop questions here.
Baby’s first poop: meconium
Did you notice greenish black poop when you changed your newborn’s diaper for the first time? That’s meconium, a sticky, tar-like substance that gradually filled your baby’s intestines during her stay in your uterus.
Though it may look unsettling, it’s completely normal. In fact, that the meconium is in her diaper instead of in her intestines is a good sign — now you know that her bowels are doing their job.
Sometime after the first 24 hours, when all the meconium has been passed, you’ll see transitional stools, which are dark greenish yellow and loose, sometimes “seedy” in texture (particularly among breastfed infants), and may occasionally contain mucus. There may even be traces of blood in them, probably the result of your baby’s swallowing some of your blood during delivery (just to be sure, save any diaper containing blood to show to a nurse or doctor).
After three or four days of transitional stools, the type of food your baby is eating will determine the color and consistency of her poop — although this can change from day to day and from bowel movement to bowel movement, causing even experienced parents to scratch their heads.
Is my baby’s poop normal?
What’s normal for baby poop depends on whether you’re breastfeeding or formula-feeding. If your baby is breastfed, her bowel movements will often be mustard-like in color and consistency, sometimes loose, even watery, and sometimes seedy, mushy or curdy.
If she’s formula-fed, the stool will usually be soft but better formed than a breastfed baby’s, and anywhere from pale yellow to yellowish brown, light brown or brownish green.
How often should a newborn poop?
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Early on, breastfed babies usually have — on average — one poopy diaper for every day of life. In other words, on day one of her life, she’ll poop once, and on day two she’ll poop twice.
Fortunately, this pattern doesn’t usually continue past five days old or so. After day five, the average breastfed newborn will have about five dirty diapers a day, though anywhere in the range from one dirty diaper every few days to several a day is usually normal.
By 6 weeks old, breastfed babies’ poop patterns may start to change, and you may notice your baby skipping a day (or two … or even three) between bowel movements.
Or not. Some babies will continue to poop several times a day or more throughout the first year. Others will go several days between dirty diapers.
It’s not necessary to continue keeping count after 6 weeks as long as baby is happy and gaining weight. The number may vary from day to day, and that’s perfectly normal too.
Formula-fed babies typically poop three to four times a day, but some go as long as three or four days without a bowel movement. As long as your baby’s poops are soft and passed without a struggle, you don’t have to be concerned. But call your pediatrician if your little one doesn’t poop for more than five days.
How can I tell if my baby is pooping?
Don’t be alarmed if your baby grunts, groans, grimaces and strains when she poops. That’s standard pooping practice for babies, even when passing soft stool, because their little bottoms aren’t strong or coordinated enough for easy elimination.
What do different baby poop colors mean?
The color of newborn poop can change quite often, as can the texture and even the smell.
Because the contents of your baby’s diaper are clues to possible issues with your baby’s health, it’s good to pay attention and alert your pediatrician if you see anything out of the ordinary.
What does it mean if there is blood in my baby’s stool?
If your baby is breastfed, blood in her stool could be a sign of a sensitivity or allergy to something in your diet. Your pediatrician may recommend that you try eliminating a potential problem food — like dairy, soy, peanuts, wheat or tree nuts — for two to three weeks to figure out what’s causing it.
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If your baby is formula-fed, blood in her stool could indicate she’s allergic to milk in her formula (although this is a lot less common than most people believe). Talk to your doctor about switching formulas.
Occasionally, no correlation between foods and allergic symptoms is found. In that case, your baby might have small cracks or fissures in her anus that caused the bleeding. Another possibility: Baby may have swallowed your blood if your nipples are cracked — and that blood can come out in the stool. Monitoring by your baby’s pediatrician should solve the mystery.
What is melena in babies?
Melena is thick, black or tarry stools. This is different from the meconium stools that occur during the first two to five days of life. Melena often indicates bleeding in the digestive tract, which can be dangerous for your baby. Contact your pediatrician immediately.
My newborn isn’t pooping — what should I do?
For breastfed babies, constipation is rare, but fewer than one poop a day in the early weeks could mean your breastfed baby isn’t getting enough to eat. Later on, around age 6 weeks to 3 months, the rate could slow down to one a day or even one every two to three days. Call your pediatrician if your baby hasn’t pooped for more than three days in a row.
Formula-fed babies typically go a little longer between bowel movements. Check in with the doctor if she doesn’t poop for more than five days as that could be a sign of constipation.
Constipation in babies
Even little ones who eat a healthy diet can have a case of constipation. The good news is that it’s easily treatable. Check out this guide to baby constipation and how to help her feel better. Always consult with your pediatrician to confirm your suspicions.
Diarrhea in babies
Stools that are frequent, watery and greener than usual could be a sign that your baby has diarrhea. Besides being messy, diarrhea could cause dehydration, and the frequent pooping could be making her uncomfortable and cause diaper rash.
Check out this guide to diarrhea in babies and how to make her feel better, and always contact your pediatrician for an official diagnosis and get-well plan.
Just when you think you’ve got this whole diaper-changing thing down and know your baby — poop and all — inside and out, another surprise turns up. But before you panic at the sight of what’s filling your baby’s diaper, think about what’s been filling her tummy.
When to call the doctor
Once your baby’s feeding schedule has been established, her “special delivery” diapers may appear five or more times a day or once every three days. That’s perfectly normal. As long as her stools are soft, she isn’t constipated. But you should call your doctor if…
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- Your breastfed baby doesn’t poop for more than three days.
- Your formula-fed baby doesn’t poop for more than five days.
- Stools are hard and pebbly, or much thicker than peanut butter.
- Stools are thin or watery, or you see mucus in the diaper — this may be diarrhea.
- You notice baby’s stool is red or black, which could indicate bleeding.
- You notice baby’s stool is white or clay-colored, which could be a sign of a liver problem (though it could also be something less serious like a dairy allergy, a stomach bug or a specific medication she’s taking — all the more reason to contact your pediatrician right away for a proper diagnosis).
If you’re still puzzled, take a picture to show your doctor. Chances are, it’s nothing to worry about, but if it is a sign that your baby isn’t feeling well, your pediatrician will be able to diagnose what’s going on in no time.