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Black parent in denim jacket, shown from shoulders to midthigh, is changing the diaper of his newborn baby who is wearing a blue Tshirt and diaper

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Newborn to infant care: A guide to baby poop

  • It’s normal for an infant to poop up to 5 to 6 times a day.
  • There are differences between breast-fed and formula-fed baby stools.
  • After about six months, as your child begins eating solid foods, their stools’ color, consistency and smell will change again.

You may find yourself a bit obsessed about the changes in your newborn’s diaper, especially if this is your first child. The ultimate goal is for your baby to be eating well and gaining weight. What you see in your baby’s diaper will vary. Even parents with several children can still be surprised by what their baby’s diaper reveals.

How often should your baby poop?

In general, it takes newborns about 5 days to adjust to a frequency. It’s normal for an infant to poop up to 5 to 6 times a day. Breast fed babies tend to have more poops than do formula-fed babies, initially. From about six weeks to three months of age, your child’s stools may become fewer. They may even skip a day or two. Don’t worry so much about how often your child poops as long as they are eating well and gaining weight.

The many looks of newborn poop

The very first poop: Meconium

Your newborn’s very first few diapers will contain a sticky, greenish tar-like stool. This is meconium, which contains mucus, skin cells and amniotic fluid. Meconium is normal and a sign that your child’s bowels are working. Once all the meconium has passed, which usually takes 2 to 5 days, your newborn’s stool will transition to a dark greenish brown yellow for a few days, then eventually yellow.

The difference in poop between breast-fed and formula-fed babies

  • Breast-fed children tend to have liquid stools that are a mustard yellow in color, and often appear “seedy”.
  • Formula fed babies tend to have soft, more well-formed stools ranging from pale yellow to brown to brownish green in color

Chart your newborn’s feedings, diapers and more with our Beginnings free mobile app

Beware of melena

Stools that are black and tarry could be a sign of melena, which can indicate blood in your baby’s digestive tract. This is dangerous. Contact your pediatrician right away.

Changes in poop as your child grows

After about six months, as your child begins eating solid foods, their stools’ color, consistency and smell will change again. Their poops will start to be more solid and may even contain bits of undigested food as their immature digestive system learns to process foods. With any changes to their diet, be sure to watch for commons signs of constipation.

Is it diarrhea?

It can be a challenge to figure out if your infant has diarrhea because stools tend to be loose and watery to begin with. Your child may have diarrhea if:

  • they are pooping much more than usual
  • you notice mucus in the stools
  • your baby has a fever
  • Your baby is also vomiting or spitting up more than usual

Schedule an appointment with a pediatrician right away if you think your baby has diarrhea.

When to call the pediatrician

In addition to diarrhea symptoms, call your pediatrician if your:

  • breast-fed baby hasn’t pooped in 3 days.
  • formula-fed baby hasn’t pooped in 5 days.
  • baby’s stools are thicker than peanut butter, hard or pebble-like
  • baby’s stools are red or black, which could be a sign of bleeding
  • baby's stools have obvious blood or streaks of blood
  • baby’s stools are white or clay-colored, which could be a sign of an allergy, virus or medical condition

If your young child’s poop is an alarming color or consistency, or if they are constipated and you can’t get in to see your pediatrician, bring them to a walk-in clinic or urgent care.

 

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