A Guide to Your Newborn or Infant's Poop

Baby wearing yellow cloth nappy or diaper
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Baby poop can cause stress and anxiety for parents. From the color and consistency to the amount of poop your child produces, it can be hard to tell what's normal. Whether you're breastfeeding, formula feeding, or doing a combination of both, here's a guide to what's normal and what isn't when it comes to your baby's poop.

Newborn Poop

A newborn's poop changes quickly during the first few days. Here's what to expect in your baby's diaper from birth through the first week of life.

  • Baby's First Poop: The first type of poop or stool your baby will have is called meconium. Meconium is black or dark green, and it looks a little bit like tar. It is thick, sticky, and difficult to clean off of your baby's bottom. Meconium stools will last for 24 to 48 hours. Breastfeeding can help the meconium pass out of your baby’s body, since your first breast milk, colostrum, is a natural laxative.
  • Transitional Poop: Between the third and sixth day of life, the thick black meconium will begin to change into a thinner, looser greenish-brown or greenish-yellow transitional stool. The transitional stool is a combination of meconium and the next phase of poop called milk stools. 
  • Breast Milk Stools: After the sixth day, your child should no longer have meconium in his body, and he will begin having milk stools. If you are exclusively breastfeeding, your baby's poop will often be a golden, mustard yellow color, but the color can be a variety of shades from orange to green. These bowel movements tend to be loose and unformed with a mild odor. They may or may not contain curds of milk, called seeds. 
  • Formula Fed Poop: If you are using infant formula, your child's poop will be firmer and have a stronger odor. The color of the formula poop appears in shades of tan to brown. 
  • Baby Poop When You're Breastfeeding with Formula Supplementation: If you are combining breastfeeding and formula feeding, you will get a combination of breast milk stools and formula stools.

How Often Should a Baby Poop?

In the first week of life, a breastfed baby may have a bowel movement with almost every feeding. However, this is not true for all newborns. The number of times your child poops will vary, but she should have at least one or two bowel movements a day in the first month. After the first month, it's normal for a baby to have poop in every diaper that you change, but it's also normal for a baby to have a bowel movement once every few days, once a week, or even longer.

Baby Poop After the Start of Solid Foods

The color, frequency, and consistency of your baby's poop will change again once you introduce solid foods into his diet at approximately six months of age. At this point, the bowel movements will be thicker and more formed. The foods that you feed your baby will change the color of the stool, too. For example, carrots and sweet potatoes can turn the poop orange while green beans and peas may turn it green. Then there are the foods that will not get digested at all and end up in the diaper in their original form. The introduction of solid foods can also increase the chances of constipation.

The Colors of Baby Poop

Baby poop can be a variety of colors, and it can be shocking to open a diaper and see something you weren't expecting. Here are some of the normal baby poop colors you may see:

  • Black or Dark Green: The first baby poop your newborn will have after birth and for the first day.
  • Green: A mix of meconium and breast milk or formula poop in the first few days of life. 
  • Mustard Yellow, Yellow-orange, or Yellow-green: Breast milk poop. 
  • Green-brown, Yellow-brown, or Tan: Formula-fed poop or the result of combining breastfeeding and formula feeding.
  • Brown, Yellow-brown: Poop after the introduction of solid foods.
  • Orange: Baby poop can turn orange from orange foods such as sweet potatoes and carrots. 

Do Breastfed Babies Get Constipation or Diarrhea? 

After the first month, some breastfed infants will not have a bowel movement for many days. The lack of poop is not constipation. Since newborns can digest breast milk easily, there is very little waste. Less waste means fewer bowel movements. It's not something you have to worry about as it is common for breastfed babies. 

Sometimes breastfed babies have frequent loose stools, and you may be concerned about diarrhea. The good news is that breastfed babies rarely get diarrhea. Breastfeeding actually helps prevent diarrhea and the infections that can cause it.

How to Tell If Your Baby Is Constipated

Actual constipation is when a baby has trouble passing the poop from his body or when the stool is hard and dry. If your little one is constipated, he will show signs of difficulty or pain while trying to move his bowels. Since it is not a normal poop pattern for babies, call your child's pediatrician if you notice the signs of constipation. 

How to Tell If Your Baby Has Diarrhea

True diarrhea will usually appear as a frequent watery stool, often green or brown in color, with a foul odor. Diarrhea in infants can be very dangerous. If your child has diarrhea for longer than 24 hours, notify the pediatrician. If you're breastfeeding, continue to breastfeed as often as possible to help prevent dehydration.

When to Call Your Baby’s Doctor for Poop Problems

When it comes to baby poop, there is a wide range of normal colors and consistencies. But, if you are ever concerned about a change in your child's bowel movements, you should contact the baby's doctor. You should also call the doctor if you notice any of the following:  

  • Your newborn still has blackish or dark green tar-like meconium poop after the fifth day of life.
  • Your baby has a white or colorless poop. Although rare, it could be a sign of a problem with the liver or gallbladder.
  • You see red blood in your child's bowel movements. Blood in your baby's stool could be a sign of a fissure or a small tear in the baby’s anus from straining with constipation.
  • Your baby's poop is black (after the meconium period is over). Black poop could indicate bleeding from inside the digestive tract.
  • Mucus in baby poop could be a sign of an infection.
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Article Sources
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  1. Baby's First Bowel Movements. healthychildren.org. American Academy of Pediatrics

  2. Baby's First Days: Bowel Movements & Urination. healthychidren.org. American Academy of Pediatrics

Additional Reading
  • American Academy of Pediatrics. New Mother’s Guide To Breastfeeding. Bantam Books. New York. 2011.
  • Lawrence, Ruth A., MD, Lawrence, Robert M., MD. Breastfeeding A Guide For The Medical Profession Eighth Edition. Elsevier Health Sciences. 2015.
  • Riordan, J., and Wambach, K. Breastfeeding and Human Lactation Fourth Edition. Jones and Bartlett Learning. 2014.