Your Guide to Baby Poop

Newborn and Infant Bowel Movements

Baby wearing yellow cloth nappy or diaper
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Baby poop can cause stress and anxiety for parents. From the color and consistency to the amount of poop your child produces, it can be hard to tell what's normal. Whether you're breastfeeding, formula feeding, or doing a combination of both, here's a guide to what's normal and what isn't when it comes to your baby's poop.

Meconium 

Meconium is the name of the first baby poop or stool that your newborn will have.

Meconium is black or dark green, and it's often described as tar-like. It is thick, sticky, and difficult to clean off of your baby's bottom. Meconium stools will last for 24 to 48 hours. Breastfeeding can help with the passage of meconium out of your baby’s body, since your first breast milk, colostrum, is a natural laxative.

Transitional Stool

Between the third and sixth day of life, the thick black meconium will begin to change into a thinner, looser greenish-brown or greenish-yellow transitional stool. The transitional stool is a combination of the meconium and the next phase of poop, milk stool. 

Breast Milk Stools 

After the sixth day, your child should no longer have meconium in his body, and he will begin having milk stools. If you are exclusively breastfeeding, your baby's poop will often be a golden, mustard yellow color, but the color can be a variety of shades from orange to green.

These bowel movements tend to be loose and unformed with a mild odor. They may or may not contain curds of milk, called seeds. 

In the first week of life, a breastfed baby may have a bowel movement with almost every feeding. However, this is not true for all newborns. The number of times your child poops will vary, but she should have at least one or two bowel movements a day in the first month.

After the first month, it's normal for a baby to have poop in every diaper that you change, but it's also normal for a baby to have a bowel movement once every few days, once a week, or even longer.

Formula Poop

If you are using infant formula, your child's poop will be firmer and have a stronger odor. The color of formula poop appears in shades of tan to brown. 

Baby Poop When You're Breastfeeding with Formula Supplementation

If you are combining breastfeeding and formula feeding, you will get a combination of breast milk stools and formula stools.

Baby Poop After the Start of Solid Foods

The color, frequency, and consistency of your baby's poop will change again once you introduce solid foods into his diet at approximately six months of age. At this point, the bowel movements will be thicker and more formed. The foods that you feed your baby will change the color of the stool, too. For example, carrots and sweet potatoes can turn the poop orange while green beans and peas may turn it green.

Then there are the foods that will not get digested at all and end up in the diaper in their original form. The introduction of solid foods can also increase the chances of constipation.

Is it Constipation and Diarrhea in the Breastfed Baby?

After the first month, some breastfed infants will not have a bowel movement for many days. The lack of poop is not constipation. Since newborns can digest breast milk easily, it produces very little waste in some babies. Less waste means fewer bowel movements. It's not something you have to worry about as it is a normal occurrence in breastfed babies. 

Sometimes breastfed babies have frequent loose stools, and you may be concerned about diarrhea. The good news is that breastfed babies rarely get diarrhea. Breastfeeding actually helps prevent diarrhea and the infections that can cause it.

Constipation

Actual constipation is when a baby has trouble passing the poop from his body or when the stool is hard and dry. If your little one is constipated, he will show signs of difficulty or pain while trying to move his bowels. Since it is not a normal poop pattern for babies, call your child's pediatrician if you notice the signs of constipation. 

Diarrhea

True diarrhea will usually appear as a frequent watery stool, often green or brown in color, with a foul odor. Diarrhea in babies can be very dangerous. If your child has diarrhea for longer than 24 hours, notify the pediatrician. If you're breastfeeding, continue to breastfeed as often as possible to help prevent dehydration.

When to Call Your Baby’s Doctor:

  • If your newborn is still having blackish green tar-like meconium poop after the fifth day of life.
     
  • If your baby has white or colorless poop. Although rare, it could be a sign of a problem with your baby’s liver or gallbladder.
     
  • If you see blood in your child's bowel movements. Blood could be a sign of a fissure, or small tear, in the baby’s anus from straining with constipation.
     
  • If your baby's poop is black (after the meconium period is over). Black poop could indicate bleeding from inside your baby’s digestive tract.

 

Sources:

American Academy of Pediatrics. New Mother’s Guide To Breastfeeding. Bantam Books. New York. 2011.

Lawrence, Ruth A., MD, Lawrence, Robert M., MD. Breastfeeding A Guide For The Medical Profession Eighth Edition. Elsevier Health Sciences. 2015.

Riordan, J., and Wambach, K. Breastfeeding and Human Lactation Fourth Edition. Jones and Bartlett Learning. 2014.

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