Breastfeeding, Wet Diapers, and Your Baby's Urine

Newborn Urination: What's Normal?

Newborn Urination: Wet Diapers, Urine Color, Urate Crystals, Brick Dust, and Blood.
How many wet diapers should your baby have each day?. Blend Images - JGI/Jamie Grill/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

How Many Wet (Urine) Diapers Should Your Breastfed Baby Have a Day?

The number of wet (urine) diapers a breastfed baby has each day changes during the first week of life. In the first few days, your baby will not receive that much breast milk, so there will be fewer wet diapers. As the days go on, and your supply of breast milk increases, your baby will produce more urine and have more wet diapers.

It's important to understand what is normal in your baby's diaper. By keeping track of how many wet diapers your baby has each day, you will be able to determine if your child is getting enough breast milk

How Often Should a Newborn Pass Urine?

A newborn baby will pass urine for the first time within 12 to 24 hours after birth. During the first few days of life, an exclusively breastfed baby may not have many wet (urine) diapers.  You should look for at least 2 wet diapers a day until your breast milk comes in.  After the 6th day, your baby should have at least 6 to 8 wet diapers every 24 hours, but may have more.

A baby has a little bladder that holds about one tablespoon (15ml) of urine, so he or she may empty it very often. Some newborns will pee up to 20 times in 24 hours. If your baby is sleeping, you don't have to wake him up to change a diaper. A diaper change before or after each feeding, approximately every two to three hours, will do.

If your baby is not urinating at all, call your baby's doctor immediately.

How to Tell if Your Baby's Diaper Is Wet

It can be hard to tell if your baby is producing enough urine. Disposable diapers are very absorbent, which can make it difficult to determine how wet they are. Here are a few things you can do to make sure your baby is having wet diapers:

  • Pour one ounce (two tablespoons, 30ml) of water into a clean, dry diaper. This will give you a better idea of how a wet diaper looks and feels.
  • Place a tissue into your baby's diaper to absorb the urine and make it easier to see.
  • After you change your baby, take the diaper apart to check the under layers or gel material for moisture.
  • Try cloth diapers. It's easier to tell if a cloth diaper is wet.

What Color Should Your Baby's Urine Be?

Your baby's urine should be colorless or light yellow.  However, you might notice occasional color changes in your baby's urine. Certain foods, food dyes, herbs, and vitamin supplements that you include in your daily diet could change the color of your breast milk and your baby's urine to green, pink, or orange.

What Is Concentrated Urine?

Concentrated urine is very dark yellow. After your milk comes in, a diaper with concentrated urine once in a while is okay; however, if your baby has frequent diapers with concentrated urine, call your baby's doctor.

What Is Brick Dust Urine?

Very concentrated urine during the first few days of life can contain urate crystals (uric acid crystals).

These urate crystals may cause a pink, red, or orange-colored, powdery stain in your baby's diaper called brick dust. It might be scary, but this is a normal occurrence for many newborns. Once your breast milk supply increases, by the fifth or sixth day, your baby's urine will no longer be concentrated.

Notify Your Baby's Doctor If:

  • You see brick dust stains in your baby’s diaper after the fourth day of life.
  • The baby is only a making a small amount of very dark yellow, concentrated urine after day four.
  • The baby is having fewer than six wet diapers each day after day five.
     

These are signs that your baby may be dehydrated and not getting enough breast milk. Your child's pediatrician can examine your baby’s health and discuss your breastfeeding technique. You may also want to contact a lactation consultant to help you with proper positioning and latch.

Blood in Your Baby's Diaper

Baby girls may have a blood-tinged vaginal discharge during the first few days of life. This is called pseudo-menstruation, or false menstruation. It is the result of hormonal changes in your baby and it's not a cause for concern.

Baby boys may have a small amount of blood in their diapers after a circumcision. The bleeding from a circumcision will usually last for a few hours, but you may notice small spots of blood in the diaper for up to a day. After a circumcision, your baby should have a wet diaper within 12 hours.

Blood in Your Baby's Urine

Blood in your baby's diaper that is not from a circumcision or pseudo-menstruation is not considered normal. If you see any blood in your baby's urine or your child is showing signs of painful urination, contact your baby's doctor right away.

Sources:

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

Cadwell, Karin, Turner-Maffei, Cynthia, O'Connor, Barbara, Cadwell Blair, Anna, Arnold, Lois D.W., and Blair Elyse M. Maternal and Infant Assessment for Breastfeeding and Human Lactation A Guide for the Practitioner Second Edition. Jones and Bartlett Publishers. 2006.

Lawrence, Ruth A., MD, Lawrence, Robert M., MD. Breastfeeding A Guide For The Medical Profession Seventh Edition.  Mosby. 2011.

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

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