Newborn and Baby Poop
If you are a first-time parent, it may be surprising for you to realize how much time you spend thinking about your baby’s poop. In fact, your baby’s bowel movements may be a frequent topic of discussion in your household for the first couple of years of their life, or until they are completely and independently potty trained.
Sometimes the color, consistency, size, and frequency of your baby’s poop can be alarming, especially if you don’t know what to expect. As a parent, you are constantly looking for and monitoring milestones, and, believe it or not, those milestones apply to your baby’s poop, as well! As your baby grows and develops, and as their eating habits change, you will notice that their bowel movements will also evolve. This is why it is so important to know what is normal when it comes to poop!
Taking a newborn care class while pregnant or hiring a postpartum doula for the first few weeks after birth are ways to get comfortable navigating all things newborn, including their poop! If that is not possible, this article can serve as a guide for new parents who want to learn more about their little one’s poop. It should serve either as reassurance when things are within a range of normal, or give you a little bit more information in case you have something that you would like to bring to your pediatrician’s attention.
Your baby’s first poop
The first poop that your baby will have is called meconium. Meconium is very dark in color, usually black or very dark green. It is sticky and thick, like tar. This substance is what lined your baby’s intestines during your pregnancy. You should expect to see meconium sometime in the first 24 hours of your baby’s life. Colostrum, your first milk, is quite laxative and part of the role of the baby consuming colostrum is to help push out the meconium.
Tip for cleaning meconium
If you apply diaper ointment (or any other balm or oil safe for babies like coconut) to their bottom before this first poop, it will make it easier to wipe up.
Your baby’s poops from Days 2-4(ish)
After the meconium passes, you’ll see what is called transitional stool. It can be dark greenish to brownish to moving toward yellowish. It changes as the milk changes from colostrum to transitional milk to full milk if the parent is breastfeeding or bodyfeeding. After this point, there are some differences in what to expect from your baby depending on whether they are consuming.
Breastfed/bodyfed/pumped milk-fed newborn poop.
When drinking human milk, on each day of a baby’s life, the number of pees they have will increase and should at least match the day of life. On day one you can expect at least one pee, on day two you can expect two, and so on. The number of poops is more variable. Typically we expect to see the yellowish, mustard-like, seedy stool increase to 1- -4 poops on average per day; babies who are not pooping at least daily may be experiencing gut issues, sensitivities, allergies, tethered oral tissues, or other issues which should be addressed by your pediatrician. This pattern of several poops a day will continue until they are about six weeks old, at which point you may notice that the frequency of pooping decreases. If their belly feels hard, and they appear to be in any pain or discomfort when doing so, there may be a cause for concern. However, constipation is very rare for breastfed/bodyfed babies and if your baby regularly skips days without pooping, in addition to addressing this with your pediatrician, it is also a good indication to book an appointment with a lactation consultant IBCLC, who can help you assess for possible causes, such as oral ties, etc
The formula-fed newborn poop
After the first few days of life, you can expect a formula-fed baby to poop about 3-4 times a day. Some formula-fed babies can go as long as three or four days without having a bowel movement, but always check in With your pediatrician if this is the case. Allergies and intolerances may need to be explored, or a change in formula could be warranted.
Most shades of yellow, green, or brown are normal for newborns. Their diet will impact the color, with human milk causing poop to have a mustardy yellow hue and formula-fed poop resulting in a more tannish or brown color. If you see red, white, or clay-colored poop, that could be a cause for concern and you should contact your pediatrician.
Consistency of your baby’s poops
The consistency of your baby’s bowel movements can fluctuate. If you notice diarrhea (watery, thin, or containing mucus) or hard pebbles, make sure you contact your baby’s doctor right away.
The ranges of what can be considered normal for your baby’s poop are wide and vast and oftentimes parents are left feeling concerned and confused. More likely than not, your baby will fall within some range of normal, but if you notice any of the red flags mentioned above (rarely pooping daily or skipping poop for a period of time, questionable color/consistency, if they struggle to pass a bowel movement, if their stomach is hard to the touch, or if they appear to be in any abdominal discomfort) be sure to call your pediatrician and to bring your concerns to them. They can rule out whether your baby needs further examination.
Laura is a doula, a writer, and the mother of two incredible kids. When not supporting new families or her own, you can find her trying out new recipes in the kitchen. Laura is available on the boober platform for matches.