A mother putting on a new diaper.

Newborn poo: a quick and dirty guide

Before Baby came into the world, you may not have wanted to spend much time thinking about anyone’s bowel movements, but it’ll be a while before they will be able to tell you in words if something is wrong, so in these early days, what’s coming out of their digestive tract can speak pretty loudly.

Learn how to analyze your newborns bowel movements

There is a lot of variation in what’s normal for newborns and their pooping habits. If Baby seems healthy, has relatively soft stool, and is gaining weight, there’s probably nothing to worry about.

Now that Baby is a few days old, they will probably have finished excreting most of the meconium that coated their intestines during pregnancy, and will have moved on to a fairly liquid, yellowy-green mixture, though little dark flecks of meconium may show up in their new, yellowish stool for a little while longer. Baby will probably start by pooping between three and five times a day, before settling in to the schedule that’s right for them. This could be as many as eight times a day, or as infrequently as every other day, or even more infrequently in some rare cases. As they get a little older, this pattern will even out pretty quickly, and by the time Baby is about 3 weeks old, they will probably be pooping on a pretty regular schedule. And if they have been pooping a lot, which is common in breastfed newborns, they may settle into a pattern of pooping less often.

What kind of newborn stool is normal if I’m breastfeeding?

If you’re breastfeeding, Baby’s pooping schedule, when they settle into one, may be pretty infrequent, because your breast milk may be well balanced enough for Baby’s system that there won’t be a lot of waste. On the other hand, though, they may poop as often as after every feeding, since they can metabolize breast milk so easily.

Baby’s stool texture will probably be fairly loose and soft, with a curdled quality from the milk solids, ranging from yellowish to greenish.

What kind of newborn stool is normal if I’m feeding Baby formula?

Newborns who are formula fed from the start, as well as those who have transitioned from breastfeeding to formula-feeding, will have a slightly different texture of stool, because Baby may be able to digest less of the formula. This means that their regular stool may be thicker and more solid in texture, may be more yellow-to-brown than yellow-to-green in color, and may be stronger smelling. Formula-fed newborns often poop less often than breastfed ones, so as long as Baby is developing healthily and gaining weight the way they should, any pattern they get into is probably healthy.

What to look out for

Some variation in Baby’s poop is normal, and most color changes (from yellow to green to brown) just have to do with how much time it takes them to digest. There are some changes in color and texture that could mean trouble though, so it’s important to know what these are.

If you notice that Baby’s stool is coming out red, black or white, you should definitely call the doctor. White poop could be a sign of an infection or jaundice, while red or black could mean trouble with either fresh or digested blood.

And as far as constipation goes, texture is a better indicator then is the time between bowel movements. Poop that is hard or pellet-like (either small and dry or large and hard) is probably signs of constipation, which can be caused by dehydration. If you notice something like this, it’s a good idea to check in with the doctor.

On the other hand, watery or runnier-than-normal poop, especially in large amounts very quickly, could be diarrhea. Diarrhea usually clears up on its own, but if it sticks around longer than a day, it’s a good idea to check in with your doctor, just to be safe. Diarrhea can be a sign of an infection, a food allergy, or a reaction to a medication.

A look into the future

Baby’s poop, just like the rest of them, is going to keep changing, and the next big shift will happen when they start eating solid food. Breastfed babies’ poop might grow more solid when they start solids, while formula-fed babies’ poop might become looser and runnier, but there’s no one standard way that their dirty dipeys will change once they reach this point, except for a more poopish smell – you can pretty much count on this.

  • Denise Bastien. “Importance of Newborn Stool Count.” Leaven. 33(6): 123-6. Web. December 1997-January 1998.
  • Jay L. Hoecker. “I’m breastfeeding my newborn and her bowel movements are yellow and mushy. Is this normal for baby poop?” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic, February 19 2015. Web.

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