The Scoop on Baby Poop: What's Normal, What's Not (2024)

It can be hard to tell what's normal when it comes to baby poop, especially in the early months of life. If you're a newborn novice, the colors, textures, and frequency of baby poop can really throw you for a loop and it can be difficult to tell what's normal and what's not. The short answer is baby poop that has a green, mustard yellow, or brown color and is soft and grainy is completely normal, but poop that has a white, red, or black color is not.

"Babies produce weird poop sometimes, just like adults can," says Adam Hart, PhD, professor at the University of Gloucestershire and author of The Life of Poo. Ahead we share expert advice on all things baby poop, from your newborn's first poop to baby poop colors, and how to get your baby to poop.

The Scoop on Baby Poop: What's Normal, What's Not (1)

What Happens When Babies Poop in the Womb

Newborn's First Poop (Meconium)

When you peel off those first newborn-sized diapers, you'll be confronted with something that looks like sticky, greenish-black tar. This is your newborn's first bowel movement, known as meconium, which is a mixture of amniotic fluid, bile, mucus, lanugo, skin cells, and more.

Most babies wait until after they're born to pass meconium (though it can happen before). Meconium stools last for 24 to 48 hours.

Breastfeeding can help the meconium pass out of your baby’s body, since the first breast milk,colostrum, is a natural laxative. But formula-fed babies should have no trouble passing meconium either. If your baby does not have a bowel movement in the first 24 hours after birth, however, let your health care provider know.

Transitional poop

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 ofmeconium and the next phase of poop called milk stools.

What Does Breastfed Baby Poop Look Like?

Milk stools in newborns

After the sixth day, your newborn should no longer have meconium in their body, and they will begin having milk stools. If you are exclusively breastfeeding, the poopwill often be a golden, mustard yellow color, but the color can be a variety of shades from orange togreen. This baby poop tends to be loose and unformed with a mild odor. They may or may not contain curds of milk, called seeds.

If you are using infant formula, your baby's poop will be firmer and have a stronger odor.The color of the formula poop appears in shades of tan to brown.If you are combining breastfeeding and formula feeding, you will get a combination of breast milk stools and formula stools.

Baby Poop Colors

Don't expect infant poop to look anything like yours, explains Ari Brown, MD, a pediatrician and co-author of Baby 411: Clear Answers & Smart Advice for Your Baby's First Year. "If you breastfeed, it will probably look seedy and mustard-like," she says. If your baby drinks formula, on the other hand, expect something more yellow-tan with the consistency of toothpaste.

Any variation of yellow, green, or brown is normal when it comes to baby poop. "The only colors that warrant a call to the doctor are red and black, which could indicate gastrointestinal bleeding, and white, which could represent liver disease and/or nutrient malabsorption," says Nanci Pittman, MD, a pediatric gastroenterologist and assistant professor of pediatrics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

You might be surprised by the variety of colors baby poop can appear. Here is a quick-reference guide to baby poop colors and what they mean:

  • Red: Red can come from food and medicine dyes. If you're sure that your baby didn't ingest anything with red dye, then it's possible that the red could be streaks of fresh blood, which could be caused by constipation and passing small, hard poops.
  • Yellow: Breastfed babies typically have mustard-yellow-colored poop. It may also be seedy in consistency. Formula-fed babies tend to have yellowish or yellowish-tan-colored baby poop. Baby poop that ranges in color from yellow to orange or tan is common and normal.
  • Green: A baby's first poop is called meconium. It's dark blackish green and very sticky, and it's made from ingesting lanugo (the hair that covers their body in the womb), amniotic fluid, mucus, and bile. Green poop can also be caused by other normal factors, and it's usually not worrisome.
  • Black: Black baby poop could indicate internal bleeding. Call your doctor to rule out anything serious.
  • White: If your baby has white or grey baby poop, call your doctor. This could be a sign that their liver is not producing enough bile to break down and digest their food properly.

The Scoop on Baby Poop: What's Normal, What's Not (2)

Healthy Baby Poop Consistencies: What to Look For

Since your infant is on an all-liquid diet, soft, squishy poops will be the norm for a while. Baby poop can be as thick as peanut butter or mushier, like cottage cheese or yogurt. Breastfed baby poop usually looks like fancy mustard: yellow, seedy, or curdy. Formula poop tends to resemble beat-up flan or pudding. Excessively hard poop can indicate constipation, while overly soft or watery poop could point to diarrhea.

An Age-by-Age Feeding Chart for Newborns and Babies

Baby Poop Odor

The scent of your baby's poop is most often a reflection of how long the poop was in the intestines. In general, the longer the stool sits in the microbiome (or bacteria-filled environment) of the intestines, the more it will smell.

Your baby's diet will also affect the smell of their poop. Breastfed baby poop tends to have a less strong smell, while the poop scent from babies who drink formula is typically more odorous. That said, those early poopy diapers really shouldn't clear the room. Once you introduce solid foods to their diet, however, it's another story.

Less commonly, very sour—or foul-smelling baby poop—can be a sign of a food allergy or intolerance. If you think your baby's bowel movements are exceptionally smelly, talk with your pediatrician.

Why Is My Baby's Poop Green?

How Often Should My Baby Poop?

Babies usually make up to 10 dirty diapers per day for the first couple of months, and then go two to four times per day until around 4 months of age—though this can vary a lot between babies, and pooping outside of this frequency is not necessarily cause for concern.

The timing is thanks to the gastrocolic reflex, which occurs as the stomach stretches with food and the colon is automatically signaled to empty and make room for more. In babies, the gastrocolic reflex is immature, so each time they feed, it's common for them to pass a little poop.

Over time, some babies' intestines absorb so much milk that they create extremely small amounts of waste and their colon doesn't empty more than once daily, or even once weekly in some cases.

Breastfed baby poop frequency

According to Dr. Pittman, it can be normal for a breastfed baby to have one bowel movement each week—but it's also normal for them to poop after every feeding. (In other words, as long as a breastfed baby is pooping at least once a week, you're probably good.)

Formula-fed baby poop frequency

Formula-fed baby poop is usually different than breastfed baby poop. That's because stool moves through the intestines more slowly with formula, causing babies to go about once or twice per day, every one or two days, after the first couple of months. Note, however, that some formula-fed infants will poop up to three or four times daily at first.

Poop frequency for combination feeding

Meanwhile, babies who are fed a combination of formula and breast milk go somewhere between multiple times per day and once per week.

Here's How Many Diapers Your Baby Really Needs

How Baby Poop Changes After Starting Solids

Once your baby starts eating solid food (usually between 4 and 6 months), their poop schedule will start to change. They'll go less frequently, and the stools themselves will become thicker in consistency. "Certain foods will pass through undigested. This is normal, as babies don't chew their food well and tend to process food quickly through the digestive tract," explains Dr. Pittman.

It's often recommended that your baby's first foods be naturally high in iron or fortified with iron. As a result, many parents offer rice cereal fortified with iron, which can cause some constipation. Both rice and iron are notorious for backing things up, so to speak.

If that's the case for your baby, you can switch to iron-fortified baby oatmeal, or limit rice cereal intake to once a day and mix in some pureed prunes. You can also opt for other sources of iron such as meat, eggs, or beans.

What Is Baby-Led Weaning?

By your baby's first birthday when they're eating a wider range of solid foods, poop starts to change again. You might notice that the smell, color, and texture of the stool varies throughout the day, depending on what your child has eaten, says Dr. Brown. In general, it will start getting browner and thicker and will look more like grown-up poop.

Is My Baby Constipated?

If your baby seems uncomfortable, and they're filling their diaper with something that's thicker than toothpaste or looks like logs or marbles, then they're probably constipated. This problem occurs for several reasons. In babies under 4 months of age, it's usually because your child isn't getting enough fluids, so remedy the situation by encouraging them to drink more breast milk or formula. Ask your doctor for specific advice and treatment options.

Does My Baby Have Diarrhea?

If your baby's poop becomes thin, watery, or streaked with mucus—and they're pooping a lot more often than usual—they probably have diarrhea. Diarrhea can be caused by antibiotics; too much fruit juice (which isn't recommended for babies under 1); milk allergies (which are somewhat rare); or gastroenteritis, a viral illness that results in vomiting and diarrhea.

If your baby has loose stools or mucus in their poop, "it's important to keep them hydrated with breast milk, formula, or pediatric electrolyte solutions," says Dr. Pittman. But if you notice any signs of dehydration—such as dry lips, sunken eyes, or sunken fontanels (the soft spots on a baby's head)—call your doctor immediately.

What Your Baby’s Poop Can Say About Milk Protein Allergies

Why Is My Baby Pooping So Much?

You may be wondering why your baby is pooping so much, particularly if your child is one of the "lucky" ones who goes after every feeding. But rest assured: In most cases, it's normal. Passing stool frequently is a sign baby is well-fed. Plus, things will (eventually) slow down.

The frequency of your baby’s poop changes as they grow and their digestive system develops. Newborns, for example, may poop several times a day while 4-month-olds may only go once per day—or once per week. Rather than focusing on frequency, you should check your baby's poop consistency for signs something is amiss.

When to Call the Doctor for Baby Poop

When it comes to baby poop, parents should call the doctor for the following reasons:

  • Their poop is white (a sign your baby isn't producing enough bile), black (which signals blood digested from the stomach or small intestine), or contains streaks of red (it could mean blood from the colon or rectum)
  • Your baby screams in pain or bleeds while pooping
  • You see mucus in your baby's poop, which can be a sign of an infection or intolerance
  • Your child's stool changes dramatically after you introduce a new food (which may signal a food allergy)
  • Your child's poop is still a very runny consistency by age 1 (if your child has diarrhea—watery stools more than five times a day—mention this to your doctor, too)
  • Your child has had diarrhea and has symptoms of dehydration
The Scoop on Baby Poop: What's Normal, What's Not (2024)


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