Everyone poops, but your baby’s poop is particularly fascinating—especially in the first few months of life. You haven’t changed enough diapers, if you haven’t gasped or said, “Woah!” at least once while opening up your baby’s diaper. The range of colors, consistency, size and smells, it’s no wonder it becomes a common topic of discussion between parents and with a child’s primary care provider.
There’s good reason to care a lot about your baby’s poop though. That’s because your baby’s poop can tell you a lot about their health and development.
“It’s important to keep track of the number of poops and color during the first few days and weeks of life as that helps your pediatrician understand how your baby is eating and growing,” said Helene Felman, MD, a pediatrician with Diamond Children’s Multispecialty Services Clinic in Tucson, AZ. “If a baby is pooping regularly, we know they are eating regularly, and growing normally.”
While every diaper change may uncover a new surprise, you may wonder what is normal and what’s not in the baby poop department. Dr. Feldman helped breakdown what to expect.
The evolution of baby poop: How poops change as baby grows
The first type of poop your baby will have is called meconium. It’ll look dark, sticky and tarry and will be hard to clean off. After 24 to 48 hours, it will transition to yellow and seedy. Think fancy mustard, like Grey Poupon—no pun intended!
Breastfed babies have the most variety in frequency of poops but the color and consistency are typically soft, smooth and mustard-like. It’s more of a puree consistency than a child or adult-type poop. Breastfed babies typically poop after each feeding, but the frequency can go down as they get older. As long as the poop is soft, and not hard balls, it’s not constipation.
Formula-fed babies tend to have slightly more solid poops, still soft, and occur about one to three times daily. The color also tends to be darker yellow, brown or green.
After introducing solids
Once babies start eating solid foods, around age 6 months, regardless if they’re breastfed or formula-fed, their stools will become more solid and formed. As long as they aren’t producing hard balls, this is normal and not constipation.
Why color matters when it comes to your baby’s poop
While colors like green, dark brown or yellow poops are peculiar, there are really only three colors Dr. Feldman said you should worry about: black, white and red.
“Green, orange, yellow, brown and everything in between are typical for babies,” Dr. Felman said. “Brown and orange are more typical for formula-fed babies, but can occur in breastfed babies as well. The colors of stool for a breastfed baby can also change based on their mother’s diet. But if you see red, black or white stools, call your baby’s doctor right away.”
- Black poops: It could indicate older blood in stool.
- White poops: It could be a sign your baby’s liver isn’t working as it should.
- Red poops: Many times, it could indicate bleeding. It may appear stringy or mucous-like and could be a result of a milk allergy or anal fissures.
“If you see any of these three colors, snap a few photos to show the doctor and hold onto the diaper in case the doctor wants to test the stool,” Dr. Felman said.
For a quick cheat sheet, check out our Baby Poop Guide below:
Is my baby constipated?
Many parents worry about their baby straining and turning red in color when they are passing poop, but as long as the stools are soft and normal in color, don’t worry. According to Dr. Felman, “This happens so often, there is even a medical term for it: infant dyschezia.”
“I ask parents, ‘Have you ever tried pooping while lying down?’ It’s hard to move stool from that position,” Dr. Felman said. “You can help your infant pass their poops by massaging their stomachs and bicycling their legs to help put pressure on their abdomen and push the poop out more easily that way.”
Though not an emergency, if your baby hasn’t pooped in four days, talk to the nurse or doctor to see if there are things you can try to help your baby pass the poop.
Your baby’s poop will be a topic of conversation their first few years of life, but it’s for good reason. Their poop will fluctuate quite a bit as they grow and start eating solids. While most colors and textures are normal, if you’re ever concerned about your baby’s bowel movements, don’t hesitate to call your doctor for advice.
For other parenting tips, check out:
- Four Common Causes for Your Child’s Tummy Ache
- Birth to Five Years: Knowing Your Child’s Developmental Milestones
- Rashes on Children: When Should I Worry?