The color, consistency, frequency, and smell of your baby’s stool. It’s nothing to poo poo! If you’re one of those parents who calls your pediatrician’s office when something in the diaper doesn't look quite right, you’re not alone. As gross as it is to analyze your baby’s bowel movements, most moms and dads become totally obsessed.
Babies’ poop changes with age, what they’re eating, and how they’re feeling. And poop can tell us A LOT about the state of our health. Even for adults – so there’s no shame in peeking at the toilet every now and then! ;)
We’ve got the scoop on your baby’s poop – how it should look, what color it should be, when to worry, and when to play it cool.
Here’s some quick and dirty Baby Poop 101.
The newborn days are full of exciting/scary/nerve-wracking firsts – including their first doo doo! Expect to find a diaper that’s filled with meconium, a thick, sticky, dark, and almost tar-like substance. Meconium is made up of everything your baby ingested while in utero – amniotic fluid, bile, mucus, proteins, cells, and lanugo (yum!) – and it’s quite a chore to get it off your baby’s bottom. You’ll need patience, plus some gentle wipes – or if it’s really stuck on there, add baby oil to a cloth and wipe it away. You can even dab on more oil or Everywhere Balm to their clean booty to help it slide off easier next time. It takes a few days for meconium to pass through your baby’s system – you’ll be so relieved when their poop finally comes out a yellowish-greenish-brownish hue.
Things To Know:
- Be prepared to change A LOT of diapers in the newborn stage (like 10-12 per day!). They won’t all be poopy ones – wet ones are important too, because it indicates your baby is well hydrated!
- On that note, plan for lots of tiny poops throughout the day. If your baby has a bowel movement, wait a beat before you rush to change their diaper in case there’s more on the way.
- Don’t panic if your baby’s face gets red or they appear strained. Passing a stool is hard work for small babies.
As baby grows and changes right before your eyes, so will their poop. Once meconium is out of their system, baby poop varies in color and consistency – and it has a lot to do with your baby’s diet (breastmilk, formula, or both)! Here are some baby poop basics:
- Normal Colors: Mustard yellow with occasional tints of green or brown.
- Normal Textures: Runny with some seed-like particles.
- Warning Colors: Red, black, white, gray, or consistently green poop (occasional green poop shouldn’t be a concern!). Call your pediatrician if you see any of these colors in the diaper!
- Frequency: In general, expect to change at least a few dirty diapers each day – though it’s common for breastfed babes to go 2, 3, or even 7 days without pooping. Your pediatrician will monitor them for normal weight gain (and, they’ll usually ask you how many wet and dirty diapers you change each day, so try to pay attention in the days leading up to your next well-child visit!).
- Normal Colors: Earth tones are your friend! You’ll likely see several shades of yellow, green, and brown.
- Normal Textures: Thick and pasty (think hummus or peanut butter).
- Warning Colors: Similar to breastfed babies, be on the lookout for poop that’s red, black, white, or gray.
- Frequency: Formula babies will likely poop at least once per day, though they could go 1-2 days without a soiled diaper. Look out for pellet-like poop, as that could be a sign of constipation (ie: time to bring it up with your doc and maybe try a new brand of formula!).
Things To Know:
- Babies are still learning this whole pooping business, so expect to see and hear them grunt or fuss when they’re having a bowel movement. They’ll get the hang of it soon enough!
- If you suspect your wee one is constipated, there are a few ways you can help encourage them to go: Try a warm bath, “bicycle legs,” gentle massage, or small sips of water or prune juice (only if your pediatrician approves!).
- Blowouts are NO fun, but they are also a parenthood rite of passage. If you’re experiencing leaks and blowouts on the reg, check out these pro tips.
- Normal Colors: Brown and dark brown (Yep, their poo will start to look a lot more grown up once they start eating solid food). Their stool may also take on the colors of the food they are eating. Don’t be surprised to see flecks of blue if they’ve eaten blueberries or green if they’ve tried some spinach.
- Normal Texture: Thicker than you’re used to seeing, but still pretty pasty and mushy. Expect to see some undigested food mixed in along with a more potent smell.
- Warning Colors: While you’re gonna see a wider color palette once baby starts eating, still check with your pediatrician if you’re seeing poop that’s red, black, white, or gray.
- Frequency: This varies! In general, you’ll notice less poop per day since solid food takes longer to make its way through their system. Also, with the intro to “big kid” food, your baby’s digestive system will take time to adjust – meaning there will be constipation and days without any dirty diapers at all.
Things To Know:
- On the topic of constipation, you now have more ways to help them move things along! It’s still a good idea to offer small amounts of water or juice, but you can also add a serving of steamed broccoli, beans, prunes, pears, peaches or plums. These foods are total all-stars in the poopy pants department!
- It’s also helpful to know what foods could clog a baby up! Things like bananas, cheese, white bread, pasta, and apples tend to harden their stool. While you don’t need to entirely avoid these foods, just know that they could be common culprits and always offer them with foods that can combat constipation (see above).
How can I tell if my baby has a dirty diaper without making a trip to the changing table?
No one wants to change more diapers than they have to, so you’ll quickly learn the technique of checking inside your baby’s diaper while they’re “on the go.” Gently pull the diaper’s waistband at the back, or one of the leg ruffles, and peek inside to see what you find. Release the material and the diaper should return to its original position.
Does my baby have diarrhea?
Baby poop (especially if they’re breastfed) can look a lot like diarrhea. But if you notice several sudden, out-of-the-ordinary loose and watery stools, it could be a sign of diarrhea. Keep an eye on it and if you notice blood in their diaper, vomiting, stomach pains, or a fever, call your pediatrician asap.
How can I help a constipated baby?
Try one or a few of these methods and try not to stress over it too much – your baby WILL eventually go. Constipation is common, so there’s likely nothing wrong with your wee one.
- Give them a warm bath.
- Exercise (Bicycle legs for pre-crawlers or crawling and walking if they’ve hit those milestones!).
- With approval from your pediatrician, give your baby small sips of water or prune juice. And if your baby’s on solids, try steamed broccoli, beans, prunes, pears, peaches or plums.
- Try a relaxing baby massage.
Can over-the-counter products, like gas drops or gripe water, help?
Lots of parents swear by these products, but some pediatricians don’t recommend them. Check with yours!
I’m concerned about my baby’s poop. Should I call my pediatrician?
Pediatricians and their staff are happy to answer any questions you may have. So, don’t be afraid to check with them if your baby’s poop seems off. Noticing poop that’s red, black, white, or gray? Smelling a new odor or seeing a strange texture? Dial them up!
Can poop give my baby a diaper rash?
Yes. The acidity and pH level in poop can irritate your baby’s tender, sensitive skin. For some tips on how to help diaper rash, please check out our advice in this article.
Any tricks for cleaning up a particularly dirty diaper?
We’ve all been faced with an extremely intimidating poopy diaper situation. First things first: Inspect their clothes for leaks and undress them if needed. Lay out a soft bath towel if you want to protect your surface once the diaper comes off. Open up the diaper and use the inside of the diaper to wipe as much of the poop as you can. Then, fold it over so the clean outside of the diaper is under your baby’s bottom. Wipe front to back, making sure to clean out all those nooks and crannies – it helps to lift their legs! Once they are clean and dry, take any steps needed to prevent diaper rash, then put on a fresh, clean diaper. Don’t forget to wash your hands (and your baby’s if they got dirty in the process) – or if things got really messy, just get them in the tub stat.
How can I avoid diaper blowouts?
While there’s no 100% guaranteed method to avoid a poopslotion, check out our tips on how to prevent diaper blowouts and leaks. Fun Fact: Ever wonder why poop bombs shoot up your kid’s back (...and sometimes ruin your favorite onesies? So sad!)? Diapers are designed to direct the poo up a baby's back because then they can't put their hands in it (which could lead to ingesting it). Think of it like a pressure release valve on a pressure cooker! For more diaper changing hacks, visit this article.
What questions do you have about baby poop? Let us know in the comments!