Your baby’s nutrition and nourishment are paramount. As new parents, you’ve probably read a number of books and articles about what to feed your baby, from milk to solids.
However, one area that new parents often overlook in their research is what this food turns into after digestion – in other words, what the baby poops after feeding, and more importantly, what your baby’s poop looks like.
The colour of your baby’s poop can be an indicator of health. Here’s what you need to know about different baby poop colours, what they mean in terms of your baby’s health and nutrition, and what you need to watch out for.
Understanding The Basics of Baby Poop
Baby poop changes as your newborn grows. Parents should expect a handful of phases of different colours and textures.
To start with, expect the following types of poop in the first few days after birth1:
Baby’s First Poop: Meconium
A newborn baby’s “first stool” after birth will have a dark, almost-black tint of green. Known as “meconium”, this dark green baby poop consists of fluids and materials that the baby swallowed in utero. It is often thick, sticky, and tar-like in consistency.2,3
Dark greenish baby poop often occurs in the days after the baby poops meconium. A newborn baby’s green stool is lighter green and less sticky than meconium, marking a transitional stage between the baby’s first stool and what the stool will turn into in the next few weeks.3
Poop Colours and What They Mean
You’ll notice more changes in baby poop colours throughout the first year, especially as you start to introduce new foods to your growing baby.
Take a look at the list below for what different baby stool colours mean.
Mustard or bright yellow
Breastfed babies have runny, bright yellow poop that looks about the same colour as mustard.2 If you’re breastfeeding, your baby will start to poop this colour and consistency at around day 5 after birth.4
Tan or light brown
Formula-fed babies tend to have light brown or tan stool that has the consistency of toothpaste.2,3
Dark green stool may be due to excess iron in the baby’s diet, which often comes from fortified milk formulas.2 This is usually no cause for concern.
Greenish-brown stools are common in babies making the transition to solid foods.2
Bright green baby poop may be apparent when stool is rushed through the digestive tract too quickly. Undigested bile during this process can lead to a greenish hue.5
Your baby’s stool will take on a medium brown shade once they transition to eating more solid foods in their diet.2
How often does a baby normally poop?
The frequency of bowel movements in babies varies greatly. Babies may poop around 4 times a day in the first week after birth, though individual babies may differ. Naturally-fed babies may poop after every feed at first, and then start to poop as infrequently as every several days once they’re 6 weeks old. Some naturally-fed babies may poop only once a week.8
As a rule of thumb, parents need not worry if their baby poops at least once a week, as long as their baby is feeding regularly, gaining weight, and if the stools’ consistency stays soft.2,3
When should I worry about baby poop?
Colours that aren’t normal
In general, normal baby poop colour is yellow, brown, or green.6 Consult your doctor if baby stool colour turns:
Black baby poop may be a sign of blood in the baby’s gastrointestinal tract.2 With the exception of meconium, black stool in your baby’s diaper should be a cause for concern.
Red baby poop may be due to blood in the stool.2 Small amounts of red in the stool may be caused by constipation, but red poop in larger amounts should warrant a visit to the doctor.
White or Grey
White or grey baby stool is often caused by bile in the stool. This colour of baby poop may point to liver or gallbladder problems.2
Texture and Consistency to Watch Out For
Pay attention to the consistency of your baby’s stool. Normal baby poop tends to be loose and runny, especially in the first few months after birth. Breastfed babies have soft, runny, or sometimes lumpy stool. Formula-fed babies tend to have thicker, firmer stools that feel like toothpaste.3,10 Once you start weaning your baby, their stool grows denser over time, becoming more like peanut butter in texture.
If you see frothy or foamy baby poop, don’t panic – it happens from time to time. Frothy or foamy stool is often due to natural milk consumption. It may also happen when your baby drinks natural milk that flows too forcefully out.11 While the bowel movement may feel uncomfortable for baby, it’s far from a medical emergency. To address this, mums can simply express milk into a towel before nursing.
When it comes to texture and consistency, what parents should keep in mind is that baby poop shouldn’t feel hard and dry – this is a symptom of constipation.4 Signs that your baby is constipated include9:
- dry, hard, or pellet-like stool
- farting often
- a firm or distended belly
- straining or difficulty while passing a stool
Constipation in babies is often caused by9:
- a change in diet (i.e., transitioning to solid foods)
- lack of fibre in older babies with solid foods in their diet
Good gut bacteria also play a major role in helping your baby poo as needed. Babies who maintain a rich, balanced, and varied gut microbiome are at lesser risk of problems with digestion, constipation, and diarrhoea. New foods can affect gut health, so be sure that your baby’s getting essential nutrients that encourage good gut bacteria to thrive.
Most cases of constipation in babies can be treated at home. If your baby shows signs of constipation, you can consult your doctor for the best course of action.
1Newborn baby poo in nappies: what to expect – NCT.Accessed January 28, 2022.
2The Color of Baby Poop and What It Means – Cleveland Clinic. Accessed January 18, 2022.
3Poop (Frequency, Color, Consistency) – Kids+ Pediatrics. Accessed January 18, 2022.
4The Scoop on Poop – Manitoba Government. Accessed January 18, 2022.
5https://www.parents.com/baby/diapers/dirty/green-baby-poop-explained/. Accessed Accessed March 2, 2022.
6Stool Color Guide – Hopkins Medicine. Accessed January 18, 2022.
7Quick Dose: When’s Your Baby’s Poop a Problem? – Northwestern Medicine. Accessed January 28, 2022.
8How to change your baby’s nappy – NHS. Accessed February 4, 2022.
9Breastfeeding challenges – NHS. Accessed February 4, 2022.
10Common questions about newborn baby poo – NCT. Accessed February 4, 2022.
11A parent’s guide to baby poop – Maple. Accessed February 15, 2022.