It may sound a bit awkward to talk something about baby poop, but once you become a mom, it suddenly becomes a normal topic in your parenting conversations. Many, if not all, parents are concerned and even worried of what they see inside those dirty diapers. So before you freak out and call for help, spare some time to learn more about the different types of baby poop, when are they considered normal, and when should you already be concerned of your baby’s stools.
What should newborn poop look like?
There is a wide range of looks and consistency when it comes to normal newborn poop. What’s more confusing is that it will gradually transition from one form to another. So here’s a guide to help you foresee what to normally expect of your newborn’s poop appearance from Day 1 onwards:
Black and tarry stools
For first-time parents, it can be quite surprising to see that your baby’s first poop will appear black, tar-like, and sticky. But don’t worry. This is called the meconium which is the normal first stool for newborns. The meconium consists of the substances that your baby has swallowed while he’s still inside your womb. So instead of worrying too much about its odd appearance, simply keep calm and be thankful that your baby’s digestive tract is well functioning.
Meconium typically lasts for a day or two, so for the meantime, feed your baby well so that all of these black stools will eventually be passed out.
Once your little one begins to feed more frequently, another hue may appear under those little nappies. Here comes the greenish yellow transitional stools which will tend to appear beginning the 3rd day of your baby.
Is it something to be worried about? No, because it is simply a combination of the meconium and the new yellowish stools that came from the milk your baby is taking.
Golden yellow, mustard-like stools
If you’ve been breastfeeding your newborn, you’ll find that your baby’s stools will gradually turn golden yellow and may resemble a mustard-like consistency. It will smell a bit sweet too!
The golden stools will begin to appear on your infant’s 6th day when all the meconium in his or her digestive tract has been passed out. Sometimes, you may see milk curds that appear like tiny seeds. You also won’t need to worry about these seed-like particles because they are simply undigested milk fats that comes out with your baby’s stools.
Yellowish brown, peanut butter-like stools
On the other hand, if you’re giving formula to your newborn, his stools will be a bit browner and stickier than that of breastfed babies. The normal newborn stools for formula-fed infants may resemble a consistency of a peanut butter. The odor will also be slightly more pungent.
Yellow, brown, green or orange semi-formed stools
Once you introduce solids to your baby’s diet, her stools will be a bit firmer and more formed than when he was still on a milk diet. You’ll find a wider range of stool colors and consistency too. Though it will still be mostly yellow to brown, you may occasionally see green or orange, depending on what foods you introduce. You may even see some undigested food particles in your baby’s stools. Once you introduce solids, be prepared for a variety of stronger smells too.
How often should a newborn poop?
Apart from the appearance, what’s bothering many parents is how many times should a newborn poop. Taking note of your newborn’s poop is essential, especially during the first few days of their life because it may reflect your baby’s milk intake and give you a hint of whether you are effectively breastfeeding or formula feeding.
The frequency of newborn poop greatly depends on whether you are giving him breast milk or formula.
For breastfed newborns, it’s typical to have 3 or more stools in a day. You’ll often notice that they move their bowels almost every after nursing. They also pass out stools more frequently than formula-fed infants because breast milk is generally quicker to digest than formula.
So how often should a newborn poop on formula? For formula-fed newborns, it is common for them to have 1 to 4 bowel movements in a day. Formula-fed babies may begin to have less frequent stools once they reached a month old.
Though you may use these as a reference, it is important to remember that the “normal” range can widely differ when it comes to how often newborns poop. Sometimes, breastfed babies can take several days before passing out stools again and it is still considered normal.
Since the frequency of newborn poop is variable, doctors usually consider the consistency more reliable in assessing a baby’s stools. For example, even if it took days before your baby moves his bowel, but the stools are soft and passed out without difficulties, you can still consider it as normal.
How much should a newborn poop?
During their first few days, newborns will most likely pass out what they took in. However, just like the frequency of newborn stools, the “normal” amount of stools for newborns may greatly vary.
As your baby grows, there will be times that your baby’s stools may be less than what you usually see. According to experts, as long as a baby is feeding well, gaining weight, passing out stools with ease, and doesn’t appear to have enlarged or protruding stomach, then the lesser amount of stools can simply be attributed to growth.
However, some rare conditions may delay the passage of your newborn’s first stool or hinder her normal bowel movement. So if your baby’s first stool seems to be greatly delayed, it is best to consult your pediatrician to find out the possible medical causes.
How long can a baby go without pooping?
It can be quite surprising, but babies who are older than 8 weeks can go 4 to 5 days without pooping, yet are not constipated. What’s more amazing? Exclusively breastfed babies can even go for up to 2 weeks without passing out any stools.
The reason why babies can go longer without moving their bowels is because their intestines are being more efficient at digesting and extracting nutrients from the food they eat. This is especially evident for breastfed babies. Breast milk is so compatible with your baby’s tummy, such that there is very little to no waste product that is left after digestion. Breastfed babies can go longer without passing out any stool.
When to be concerned of your baby’s poop
Hard, pebble-like stools
Sometimes, your baby may pass out small and hard stools that resemble some pebbles. Though this is very unlikely for exclusively breastfed infants, formula-fed babies and older babies who are already eating solids may experience this one.
These hard stools may indicate that your baby is constipated, especially if you see your baby struggling or crying too much every time he tries to pass out the stools. While it is most likely due to the improper mixture of formula or a shift to a new diet, it is better to mention it to your pediatrician so that he can assist you in a achieving the right formulation or to check if it is caused by something else.
Loose and watery stools
Loose stools is common for newborns and occasionally, to older babies. However, if it becomes runny, watery, foul-smelling and your baby shows other symptoms like being irritable or fever, then it may be something to be concerned about. Viruses, bacteria and milk protein allergies may cause diarrhea.
Diarrhea in babies is hard to detect but if left untreated, it may lead to a potentially dangerous state called dehydration. So if you feel that there’s something wrong about how your baby feels, it is best to seek consultation immediately.
Black, tar-like stools are normal for the first few days of newborns, but once they are over 6 days of age, black stools are something to be checked with your pediatrician.
These black stools may already be melena. Though sometimes, it may simply be due to blood that your baby has swallowed from your cracked nipples, melena may also indicate bleeding in your baby’s upper digestive tract such as the mouth, esophagus or stomach.
Stools with red blood streaks
Stools with fresh blood streaks may indicate bleeding in your baby’s lower digestive tract such as the intestines and the rectum. It may be caused by milk protein allergies, a bacterial infection, or constipation. So just like the other red flags, it is best to consult your pediatrician if you see this kind of stool in your baby’s dirty nappy.
White, gray, clay-like stools
It’s fairly uncommon for babies to pass out white, gray and clay-like stools, but if they do, it may indicate problems with their liver function. Babies who have it may have a hard time processing the bilirubin in their liver, which is supposed to give the stools a yellow color. This may lead to hyperbilirunemia or the increased bilirubin in the baby’s blood, resulting in jaundice. This is why if your baby has this kind of stool, it is best to report it to your doctor right away so that proper assessment and treatment can be given.
Green, slimy stools
Your baby’s stools may turn greenish once in a while, especially when they are already eating a wide range of foods. However, be extra vigilant when it turns out to be slimy and full of mucus. Though it can be due to your baby’s drooling, it may also signify an infection or improper digestion so it is best to have it checked with your doctor.
How to help your newborn poop
It is quite uncommon for newborns to require some help in moving their bowels, especially if you are breastfeeding your baby. Breastfed newborns are rarely constipated because breast milk acts as a natural laxative.
If there is a delay in passing out your baby’s first stool or if he is extremely straining, uncomfortable, and his poop is visibly dry, hard and pebble-like, then the first thing to do is call or schedule a visit to your pediatrician for advice. Newborns are very fragile and you can’t simply try out remedies on your own. If relief measures needs to be done for your newborn, it is still best to follow those that are prescribed by your pediatrician.
For older babies, especially those who are formula-fed and taking in solids, constipation may occasionally be noticed. If you feel that your baby is constipated, you may try out the following remedies to help your baby poop easier:
- Try giving your baby a warm bath and a gentle tummy massage.
- You may take your baby’s rectal temperature to stimulate bowel movement and also to check for fever, which indicates a more serious concern.
- Give your baby an ounce of pear or prune juice as a natural laxative.
- Promote active play because movement stimulates peristalsis or the motion of intestines.
- If your baby is already taking solids, make sure to include a variety of fruits and vegetables in her diet. The fiber in fruits and vegetables will help resolve and prevent future constipation.
- You may ask your baby’s pediatrician for a prescription of infant glycerin suppository. This is something that can be inserted in your baby’s rectum and stimulate bowel movement.
Your baby’s poop will normally show you a variety of colors, consistency, frequency, and even odors. A change in baby poop may be typical, but it can turn a parent’s sanity upside down. True enough, there is so much more to those dirty diapers than simply stuff to be thrown away. Your baby’s stools can tell a lot of things about your baby’s health, so if you have any concerns, never hesitate to share it with your doctor.
This article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Always consult with a doctor or licensed medical professional before making any medical decisions.