The mysteries of a baby's diaper can be endlessly confusing and fascinating, especially in the early months of life. "Babies produce weird poop sometimes, just like adults can," says Adam Hart, Ph.D., professor of science communication at the University of Gloucestershire in the U.K. and author of The Life of Poo.
If you're a newborn novice, the colors, textures, and frequency of baby poop can really throw you for a loop. But spoiler alert: You're going to spend many waking hours looking at it and cleaning it up, so it's important to know what's normal and what isn't. Consider this your crash course.
Do Babies Poop in the Womb?
Your Baby's First Poop
When you peel off those first newborn-sized diapers, you'll be confronted with something that looks like sticky, greenish-black tar. This is your baby's first bowel movement, known as meconium, which is a mixture of amniotic fluid, bile, and secretions from the intestinal glands. Most babies wait until after they're born to pass meconium (though it can happen before). It will usually stick around for hours, and a few days later, the real stuff will arrive.
Baby Poop Color
"Don't expect infant poop to look anything like yours," explains Ari Brown, M.D., a pediatrician practicing in Austin and co-author of Baby 411: Clear Answers & Smart Advice for Your Baby's First Year. "If you breastfeed, it will probably look seedy and mustard-like, and if you [forumla feed], expect something more greenish with the consistency of toothpaste," she explains.
Any variation of yellow, green, or brown is normal when it comes to baby poop. "The only colors that warrant a call to the doctor are red and black, which could indicate gastrointestinal bleeding, and white, which could represent liver disease and/or nutrient malabsorption," says Nanci Pittman, M.D., a pediatric gastroenterologist and assistant professor of pediatrics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.
The Ultimate Baby Poop Color Chart
Baby Poop Consistencies
Since your infant is on an all-liquid diet, soft, squishy poops will be the norm for a while. Baby poop can be as thick as peanut butter or mushier, like cottage cheese or yogurt. Breastfed baby poop usually looks like fancy mustard: yellow, seedy, or curdy. Formula poop tends to resemble beat-up flan or pudding. Excessively hard poop can indicate constipation, while overly soft or watery poop could point to diarrhea.
Baby Poop Odor
The scent of your baby's poop is most often a reflection of how long the poop was in the intestines. In general, the longer the stool sits in the microbiome (read: bacteria-filled environment) of the intestines, the more it will smell.
Your baby's diet will also affect the smell of their poop. Breastfed baby poop tends to have a less strong smell, while that from babies who drink formula is typically more odorous. That said, those early poopy diapers really shouldn't clear the room. Once you introduce solid foods to their diet, however, it's another story.
Less commonly, very sour- or foul-smelling baby poop can be a sign of an intolerance or allergy. If you think your baby's bowel movements are exceptionally smelly, talk with your pediatrician.
What Causes Green Baby Poop?
How Often Should My Baby Poop?
Babies usually make up to 10 dirty diapers per day for the first couple of months, and then go two to four times per day until around 4 months of age—though this can vary a lot between babies, and pooping outside of this frequency is not necessarily cause for concern.
The timing is thanks to the gastrocolic reflex, which occurs as the stomach stretches with food and the colon is automatically signaled to empty and make room for more. In babies, the gastrocolic reflex is immature, so each time they feed, it's common for them to pass a little poop.
Over time, some babies' intestines absorb so much milk that they create extremely small amounts of waste and their colon doesn't empty more than once daily, or even once weekly in some cases. According to Dr. Pittman, it can be normal for a breastfed baby to have one bowel movement each week—but it's also normal for them to poop after every feeding. (In other words, as long as a breastfed baby is pooping at least once a week, you're probably good.)
Formula-fed baby poop is usually different than breastfed baby poop. That's because stool moves through the intestines more slowly with formula, causing babies to go about once or twice per day every one or two days after the first couple of months. Note, however, that some formula-fed infants will poop up to three or four times daily at first.
Meanwhile, babies who are fed a combination of formula and breast milk go somewhere between multiple times per day and once per week.
Breastfed Baby Poop: How It's Different and What's Normal
How Baby Poop Changes After Starting Solids
Once your baby starts eating solid food (usually between 4 and 6 months), their poop schedule will start to change. They'll go less frequently, and the stools themselves will become thicker in consistency. "Certain foods will pass through undigested. This is normal, as babies don't chew their food well and tend to process food quickly through the digestive tract," Dr. Pittman explains.
It's often recommended that your baby's first foods be naturally high in iron or fortified with iron. As a result, many parents offer rice cereal fortified with iron, which can cause some constipation. Both rice and iron are notorious for backing things up, so to speak.
If that's the case for your baby, you can switch to iron-fortified baby oatmeal or limit rice cereal intake to once a day and mix in some pureed prunes. You can also opt for other sources of iron such as meat, eggs, or beans.
Baby's First Foods: How to Introduce Solids
By your baby's first birthday when they're eating a wider range of solid foods, poop starts to change again. You might notice that the smell, color, and texture of the stool varies throughout the day, depending on what your child has eaten, says Dr. Brown. In general, it will start getting browner and thicker and will look more like grown-up poop.
Is My Baby Constipated?
If your baby seems uncomfortable and is filling their diaper with something that is thicker than toothpaste or that looks like logs or marbles, then they're probably constipated. This problem occurs for several reasons. In babies under 4 months of age, it's usually because your child isn't getting enough fluids, so remedy the situation by encouraging them to drink more breast milk or formula. Ask your doctor for specific advice and treatment options.
Does My Baby Have Diarrhea?
If your baby's poop becomes thin, watery, or streaked with mucus—and they're pooping a lot more often than usual—they probably have diarrhea. Diarrhea can be caused by antibiotics; too much fruit juice (which isn't recommended for babies under 1); milk allergies (which are somewhat rare); or gastroenteritis, a viral illness that results in vomiting and diarrhea.
Baby Diarrhea: A Parent's Guide to Causes and Treatments
If your baby has loose stools or mucus in their poop, "it's important to keep them hydrated with breast milk, formula, or pediatric electrolyte solutions," Dr. Pittman explains. But if you notice any signs of dehydration—such as dry lips, sunken eyes, or sunken fontanels (the soft spots on a baby's head)—call your doctor immediately.
Your Baby's Digestive Health
Why Is My Baby Pooping So Much?
You may be wondering why your baby is pooping so much, particularly if your child is one of the "lucky" ones who goes after every feeding. But rest assured: In most cases, it is normal. Passing stool frequently is a sign baby is well-fed. Plus, things will (eventually) slow down. The frequency of baby’s poop changes as they grow and their digestive system develops. Newborns, for example, may poop several times a day while 4-month-olds may only go once a day—or week. Rather than focusing on frequency, you should check baby's poop's consistency for signs something is amiss.
When to Call the Doctor
When it comes to baby poop, parents should call the doctor for the following reasons:
- Their poop is white (a sign your baby isn't producing enough bile), black (which signals blood digested from the stomach or small intestine), or contains streaks of red (it could mean blood from the colon or rectum)
- Your child screams in pain or bleeds while pooping
- You see mucus in baby poop, which can be a sign of an infection or intolerance
- Your child's stool changes dramatically after you introduce a new food (which may signal a food allergy)
- Your child's poop is still a very runny consistency by age 1 (if your child has diarrhea—watery stools more than five times a day—mention this to your doctor, too)
- Your child has had diarrhea and has symptoms of dehydration
What is normal and not normal baby poop? ›
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.What does unhealthy baby poop look like? ›
Unhealthy: Black and Thick
Black meconium poops are normal for your child's first week of life. But if these poops continue for longer or your child's poop appears black later, it might mean they have bleeding in their intestines. You should call your doctor about any black poops after their first week of life.
You may need to worry about your baby's poop when it is abnormal: Consistency: Watery or very hard (normal stool is semi-solid). Color: A blackish stool or greenish stool or reddish stool with or without mucous (normal stool is yellowish). Quantity: Too much or too little.
Most colors are normal but call your doctor if your baby's poop is white, black or has blood in it.What is normal in baby poop? ›
Breastfed newborns usually have seedy, loose bowel movements that look like light mustard. Yellow or tan. If you feed your newborn formula, your baby's bowel movements might become yellow or tan with hints of green. They will be slightly more firm than breastfed bowel movements, but no firmer than peanut butter.How do I know if my baby poop is healthy? ›
Breastfed baby poop is considered normal when it's a mustard yellow, green or brown color. It is typically seedy and pasty in texture and may be runny enough to resemble diarrhea. Healthy breastfed stools will smell sweet (unlike regular bowel-movement odor).How do I know if my baby has bowel problems? ›
Constipation and Diarrhea
Abdominal pain. Stomach cramps. Painful bowel movements. Fewer than normal bowel movements.
Sunken soft spot of the head in an infant or toddler. Stools will be loose if dehydration is caused by diarrhea; if dehydration is due to other fluid loss (vomiting, lack of fluid intake), there will be decreased bowel movements.What does dehydrated baby poop look like? ›
Also check what your baby's poop looks like. Very watery or explosive poops might mean your baby has diarrhea and is losing water. Dry, hard poops might mean your baby is a bit dehydrated. Both kinds of poops mean it's time to give your little one an extra feed or more.What does abnormal poop look like? ›
not pooping often enough — less than three times a week. excessive straining when pooping. poop that is red, black, green, yellow, or white. greasy, fatty stools.
When should I take my baby to the ER for poop? ›
Be sure to call a doctor or go to the ER if you can't relieve your baby's constipation on your own or if you notice blood in the stool. If your baby is losing weight, or isn't eating, it is also time to see a doctor.When should I take my baby to the doctor for poop? ›
When to call the doctor about your baby's poop. Dehydration due to diarrhea, including: Weakness or lethargy. Less than six wet diapers in 24 hours or six hours without a wet diaper.What color baby poop is worrisome? ›
Dr. Gorman notes, “Brown, yellow, orange, green or any shade of these are normal stool colors for breastfed or bottle-fed babies. Worrisome colors are red, which could indicate blood; black, indicating old or digested blood; and white, which may be due to a liver problem.What does milk allergy poop look like? ›
How does poop change with a milk allergy? The most common sign that a baby is allergic to milk is blood in their stool. A baby's poop may also become more runny and frequent, similar to diarrhea. It may also contain mucus.What does normal poop look like? ›
Normal poop is brown and comes in every color from tan to espresso. The brown color is largely due to bile and bilirubin. Bile is a yellowish-green fluid made by the liver and stored in the gallbladder.How do I know if my baby has an infection in his poop? ›
A bacterial or viral infection (stomach flu) can irritate the intestines and lead to inflammation. The result is increased mucus in baby's poop. Additional symptoms that could indicate infection include fever and irritability. Babies with an infection may also have green stool.What are 3 warning signs of dehydration? ›
- feeling thirsty and lightheaded.
- a dry mouth.
- having dark coloured, strong-smelling urine.
- passing urine less often than usual.
Hard, Dry and Lumpy – It is likely that you're lacking fiber and are dehydrated. Try drinking more water and adding more fruits and veggies into your diet. Soft, Fluffy Blobs – Having a mushy stool is on the edge of normal, but it could also mean you're on the verge of transitioning to diarrhea.How do babies act when dehydrated? ›
Dehydration occurs when an infant or child loses so much body fluid that they are not able to maintain ordinary function. The warning signs can include dry skin, tongue and lips, rapid breathing, fewer wet diapers and tearless crying.What are two signs of dehydration in infants? ›
- a sunken soft spot (fontanelle) on top of their head.
- sunken eyes.
- few or no tears when they cry.
- not having many wet nappies.
- being drowsy or irritable.
How do you rehydrate a baby? ›
- Your child may need to drink an oral rehydration solution (ORS) like Pedialyte®. An. ORS helps replace the electrolytes and fluids that your child needs. ...
- If your child has diarrhea or vomiting, you may hold back food and milk for 1 or 2. days until they begin to improve.
Baby pee looks similar to adult pee, in that the urine of healthy newborns has a light to dark yellow pee color. Darker shades indicate concentrated urine, which may mean that your baby is slightly dehydrated.What are bad signs in stool? ›
Stools that are gray in color may also be concerning for liver problems.” And yellow, greasy, foul-smelling stool indicates that the intestines didn't properly digest and absorb fat. This could be caused by a disease of the intestinal lining such as celiac disease or chronic pancreatitis.What does stress poop look like? ›
“Stress and anxiety increase hormones, such as cortisol, adrenaline, and serotonin,” Eid says. The gut responds to these hormones by producing physical symptoms, like watery stools, nausea, or constipation.What are the 7 types of stool? ›
- Type 1: Marbles. ...
- Type 2: Caterpillar. ...
- Type 3: Hot dog. ...
- Type 4: Snake. ...
- Type 5: Amoebas. ...
- Type 6: Soft serve. ...
- Type 7: Jackson Pollock.
Gripe water can be used for the pain that is associated with the discomfort caused by constipation, but it will not help your baby poop, if the following does not help relief your baby's constipation you should contact your doctor for advice: Lie your baby down and gently move their legs in bicycle like motion.What does diarrhea look like in babies? ›
Newborn diarrhea is very runny and looks like it's made up of more water than solid food. It can be yellow, green, or brown, and often can seep or "explode" out of their diaper. Diarrhea can be a sign of an infection or allergy. If it lasts for a while without being treated, it can lead to dehydration.
Backed-up infants tend to make dark brown or black baby poop. Constipation is thick and hard, and it resembles small pellets, marbles, or logs. It can happen when fluids and fiber aren't absorbed properly—often from a milk-protein allergy or food intolerance.When should I be concerned about my baby not pooping? ›
Call your baby's pediatrician immediately if your newborn baby (under 6 weeks old) is not pooping at all. Also call if your baby (of any age) has constipation for longer than 5 to 7 days or if they also have other symptoms.What color is not normal for baby poop? ›
The poop of newborns is almost black, while older infants tend to have yellow or brown poop. Breast milk and formula can also influence the color of a baby's stools. Red or white poop can indicate a health problem. Otherwise, a wide range of colors is normal.
What does baby poop look like with dairy allergy? ›
How does poop change with a milk allergy? The most common sign that a baby is allergic to milk is blood in their stool. A baby's poop may also become more runny and frequent, similar to diarrhea. It may also contain mucus.What Colour poop is not normal for babies? ›
Some colours are quite normal, including green and everything from yellow to brown. However, certain colours can be warning signs: red, black, white, or grey. In some cases, red-coloured and very dark green almost black-coloured poo could be from food sources or pass through your breast milk.
Call your pediatrician if your baby hasn't pooped for more than three days in a row. Formula-fed babies typically go a little longer between bowel movements. Check in with the doctor if she doesn't poop for more than five days as that could be a sign of constipation.What causes a baby to be constipated? ›
Low fiber diet or a recent change in the diet. Introduction of solid foods or new foods. Excessive amounts of yogurt, cheese and milk. Foods such as bananas, applesauce, cereals, breads, pasta and white potatoes can cause constipation or worsen it.How can I help my baby push out poop? ›
- Help your baby by holding the knees against the chest. This is like squatting for your baby. This is the natural position for pushing out a stool. ...
- Gently pump on the lower belly with your fingers. If no stool release in a few minutes, stop.
Dehydration occurs when an infant or child loses so much body fluid that they are not able to maintain ordinary function. The warning signs can include dry skin, tongue and lips, rapid breathing, fewer wet diapers and tearless crying.What Colour is constipated baby poop? ›
Extremely hard poop that's difficult to pass could mean constipation. Small, pebble-like drops that are dark brown in color are also a sign of this. If your baby is constipated, these remedies may help.What does lactose intolerant poop look like? ›
Your baby's stools may be loose and watery. They may also appear bulky or frothy. They can even be acidic, which means you may notice diaper rash from your baby's skin becoming irritated.What does milk intolerance poop look like? ›
Looser and mushier stool (diarrhea), especially if it happens two to four times per day for more than 5-7 days. Poop tinged with a small amount of blood (“Bright red can show an inflammation of the colon,” says Dr.What color is lactose intolerance poop? ›
Other than having diarrhea, certain changes in your stool may also grab your attention. For instance, it's not unlikely for a person with lactose intolerance to have foamy stools. Sometimes his or her stools may appear black or tinged with bright red blood. Passing stool may also be accompanied with pain.
What color poop is not good? ›
If your stool is bright red or black — which may indicate the presence of blood — seek prompt medical attention. Food may be moving through the large intestine too quickly, such as due to diarrhea. As a result, bile doesn't have time to break down completely.