Poop is so much more than a messy obligation to manage until baby gets potty trained. Your baby’s poop tells a story of what is occurring in the body of your newborn, your infant or your toddler. Knowing what’s normal—and not—and understanding the variation can help parents you know when changes in their your wee one’s stool requires a visit with their your pediatric healthcare provider.
Baby poop comes in various colors, consistencies, and frequencies, and this is considered healthy and normal.
Your Newborn’s First Poop
Meconium is the first poop you will notice in your newborn. It’s a greenish, sticky, tar-like substance that gradually fills your baby's intestine while they are growing in your uterus. The appearance of meconium following birth is normal and is a good sign that your baby’s bowels are working.
Some 24 hours after giving birth to your child, you will begin see transitional stools, which are dark greenish-yellow in color—this means most if not all of the meconium has passed. These early poops are loose, and sometimes have a seedy texture, which is more commonly seen in breastfed babies.
You may see traces of mucus and blood due to your baby swallowing some of your blood during birth. Please save any diaper containing blood to show to your baby’s healthcare provider. Transitional stool lasts for about 3-4 days, after which the the type of food your baby is eating will determine baby’s ongoing poop color and consistency. But don’t worry, this may still change from bowel movement to bowel movement.
Normal Baby Poop
Formula-fed babies will typically have soft formed poop that’s pale yellow to yellowish-brown, light brown, or brownish-green in color. Breastfed babies or babies who feed on human milk will usually have a mustard-like color in their poop, and the consistency may be loose, watery, seedy, mushy, or curdy. If you’re thinking yikes! you’re on the right track!
Your Guide to Baby’s Poop
Sticky, greenish-black baby poop
Meconium is a substance that gradually fills in your baby's intestines while in your uterus. It is normal and usually passes within one to two days of life.
Thick, black baby poop
If this occurs when your baby is more than 3 days old, it could indicate bleeding in the digestive tract. This is dangerous, and you should contact your baby’s healthcare provider immediately.
Note: iron supplements or iron-fortified formula may sometimes cause stool to turn dark brown or black. In this case, it would be considered normal. Always check with your healthcare provider to ensure it is normal for your baby.
Watery, green baby poop
This type of stool occurring several times a day may likely indicate that your baby has diarrhea, especially if greener than usually in color.
Make sure to change diapers often to prevent the development of a diaper rash.
Additionally, it is essential to ensure your baby remains hydrated. Liquid electrolytes may be helpful during this time. Please get in touch with your baby’s healthcare provider for proper dosing.
If this lasts greater than 24 hours, please be sure to contact your baby’s healthcare provider for an official diagnosis and plan of care.
Bright green baby poop
This color poop with a frothy consistency in breastfed newborns may indicate your baby is changing between breasts too often and getting less of the fatty hindmilk (creamier and more calorie-rich). You may want to consider feeding more frequently and ensuring one breast is fully empty before offering the other breast.
Seedy yellow baby poop
This is usually noted around the third or fourth day of life and is considered transitional stools. This is a good sign indicating your baby is digesting formula or breast milk.
Breastfed babies’ stool will appear mustard-like with a yellow, green, or light brown color. The consistency will be loose, watery, seedy, mushy, curdy, creamy, or pasty. It may have a sweet smell to it.
Thicker yellow baby poop
Formula-fed babies will have this color poop with a soft butter-like consistency. The odor may smell like regular poop but not as strong.
Watery yellow baby poop
Watery poop that lasts more than a day may signify an infection. Please be sure to reach out to your baby’s healthcare provider immediately.
Thick brown baby poop
As your baby's diet changes with the introduction of solid food, their poop will become soft and mushy. It is considered normal.
Dry, hard brown baby poop
This color bowel movement may be a sign of constipation. Please be sure to contact your baby’s healthcare provider for an official diagnosis and care plan.
Red baby poop
This color poop may be a sign of milk or other allergies, bacterial infection, a tear around the rectum, blood swallowed by your baby from a cracked nipple during breastfeeding, or blood swallowed during delivery. Please be sure to contact your baby’s healthcare provider.
Some foods like beets may cause bright red poop as well.
Orange baby poop
This color poop may be directly related to something your baby has eaten. Fruits and vegetables with beta carotene such as sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkins, and oranges may turn your babies poop orange.
Medication (e.g., some antibiotics and antacids) may also cause your baby's poop to be this color.
White and gray baby poop
This color poop is rare but may indicate a problem known as biliary atresia, which is a blockage in the ducts that carry bile from baby’s liver to the gallbladder.
This congenital condition occurs when bile ducts inside or outside the liver don’t develop normally. It can be life-threatening but treatable when diagnosed early. Please be sure to contact your baby’s healthcare provider if your baby has this color poop.
If you’re unsure, check with your healthcare provider
Remember, stools change throughout your baby's life, and you need to be aware of what is normal versus not. If you’re unsure about your baby’s poop, please take a picture of it to share with the nurse at your baby’s healthcare provider for a diagnosis and plan of care if needed.
Shawana S. Moore, DNP, MSN, CRNP, WHNP-BC.
Shawana S. Moore, DNP, CRNP, WHNP-BC, is a Philadelphia-based, board-certified women’s health nurse practitioner and the director of the Women’s Health-Gender Related Nurse Practitioner Program at Thomas Jefferson University.
The information contained on this article should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your health care professional.