Getting up close and personal with baby poop isn’t exactly one of the aspects of mamahood that you dream about. It’s not up there with cuddles, lullabies, and the very first smile.
But having a good look at the contents of those diapers can really help you keep on top of your baby’s health. Yep, we’re talking color, consistency, smell – it’s all important.
That’s why we’ve put together the ultimate baby poop guide, to help you crack the code. Let’s do this!
In this article 📝
- What is normal baby poop?
- When should you worry about baby poop?
- Baby poop: The final scoop
What is normal baby poop?
First of all, baby poop comes in as many different varieties as there are babies. So if a friend tells you their baby is producing five greenish-yellow poops per day and yours is only making three yellow-orange colored ones, don’t panic!
The key is to learn what’s normal for your baby, so you can spot when there’s a change and work out what’s causing it.
What should my baby’s poop look like?
If you look at a baby stool color chart, you’ll see a whole spectrum of spectacular colors. We’ll take a look at the unusual colors (that may indicate a problem) below.
Essentially, the “earth tones” on the baby poop chart are what we want. Yellow, orange, tan, greenish – all are usually normal and a sign that your baby’s digestion is ticking over nicely.
But different baby poop colors are also normal for different stages in your baby’s development, and also depend on what you’re feeding them. Let’s take a look at how baby poop can change over time.
The very first poop your baby makes has a special name, meconium (helping you celebrate the beginning of your diaper-changing marathon – yay!).
Meconium is black-green baby poop that is sticky and almost tar-like in appearance, with barely any smell. It’s made up of everything your baby swallowed while they were in your uterus: amniotic fluid, mucus, skin cells, lanugo, and more.
In the first 24 hours of their life, your baby should pass most of the meconium and then the more “regular” poops will start.
Newborn poop: First days after birth
You might see a baby poop transition phase as their little body finishes passing the meconium. A glance into the diaper may reveal wetter, yellow-green stools, sometimes mixed in with some mucus and blood that your baby swallowed during delivery.
This is normal, but needlessness to say, if you’re ever concerned about blood in your baby’s stool, do consult your healthcare provider.
Baby poop up to 6 months
For the first 6 months, your baby tends to be on an all-milk diet. So what kind of baby poop does this create? Well, it’s slightly different depending on whether you’re breastfeeding or formula feeding.
- Breast-fed babies: Mustard-yellow, quite runny or curd-like, and sometimes with tiny seed-shaped whitish fat particles. The color of stool may also change a bit depending on what you’ve been eating! E.g. spinach might give a green tint to the poop.
- Formula-fed babies: Dark yellow or tan to a brownish green color, and firmer than a breast-fed baby’s poop (something like peanut butter – it shouldn’t be firmer than that).
The good news is, while your baby is only fed with milk, their poop doesn’t usually have a strong smell – but all that is set to change later on… Sorry.
Baby poop in the weaning stage
When you begin introducing solid food to your little one’s diet, expect to see (and smell) big changes in their poop. It will start to get firmer and closer in appearance to adult poop over time.
The color of poop will vary a lot more, based on what they’ve been eating. For example, tomatoes might give a reddish hue or broccoli a greenish tone.
You might also see some bits of undigested food in their stool, such as the skins of veggies. That’s because your baby’s digestive system is still getting used to processing these new substances.
Finally, we’re afraid to say, the weaning stage is where baby poop gets stinky. The extra fats and sugars in their diet lead to a more powerful aroma at diaper-changing time.
How often should baby poop?
Want to know just how many dirty diapers you’ll have on your hands during those first few months? Well, once again, how often your baby poops depends on what they’re being fed.
- Breastfed babies: These babies tend to poop more frequently than formula-fed babies. Think 2–5 (or more) stools per day for the first 6 weeks. After that, you might see fewer poops as their body processes the breast-milk very efficiently. You may even see a gap of several days.
- Formula-fed babies: Think 1–4 times per day, but it’s normal for them to go a day or two without pooping (as long as the stools are soft when they do appear).
But remember: there’s a huge amount of variation here. Your baby may poop more or less than is “average” and still be perfectly healthy.
Again, everything changes once solid food is introduced, and you may start to see only one poop per day or every couple days.
When should you worry about baby poop?
So when can baby poop indicate that your little one is under the weather? Let’s take a look at some of the signs:
Frequent and watery
Baby poop that’s coming more often than usual, and is extra watery and bright yellow in color, could be a sign of diarrhea. Check in with your pediatrician, particularly if your baby: is under 3 months old, has a high temperature, or is showing signs of dehydration (sunken eyes, dry lips).
If your baby is pooping less frequently than normal, the stools seem unusually firm, or your baby is showing signs of distress when they poop, they could be constipated. See your doc for advice on how to safely treat this.
An unusual color
- Red: As we saw above, red baby poop isn’t necessarily anything to worry about – it could just be those tomatoes for dinner. But if you suspect the red hue is caused by blood, it’s important to consult your doc.
Blood in the stool could be a sign of a food allergy or sensitivity.
- Black: Stools that are thick, black, and tar-like are known as melena (different from meconium), and could be a sign of bleeding in the digestive tract. See your doc straight away.
- White or gray: Although rare, these stools could indicate a liver condition that requires urgent medical treatment.
Mucus in baby poop can be normal if the baby is a newborn, or if they are teething and swallowing their own drool. If you keep finding mucus in your baby’s diaper and they’re not newborn or teething, see your doc.
Smellier than normal
When babies’ poop smells like vinegar (sour) or is especially stinky, that could suggest a food intolerance or allergy. Your healthcare provider will be able to help you work out what foods to avoid in future.
Baby poop: The final scoop
Try not to worry too much about every tiny change in your little one’s baby poop. As long as everything is in the normal range for them, and they seem happy and comfortable, you can relax.
And remember, if your baby does ever get a little constipated or has a dose of diarrhea – it’s not your fault. Even babies with super-healthy diets get digestive upsets now and again.
Mama, you are truly the queen of diaper-changing. (But bring on potty training!)