The contents of your baby’s diaper may change every day- and the wide range of colours and textures you’ll encounter may at times be concerning.1,2 It’s important to know what's normal and what's not as your newborn grows, drinks breast milk or formula, and starts eating solids.1

Deciphering what’s normal1,2

Greenish-black, Tar-like: Baby’s first stool, within the first few days of life, called meconium is black, tar-like and contains bile and other substances your baby swallowed while still in the womb. It is very sticky and you may need a lot of wet wipes to clean it. By the 3rd day, this poop becomes lighter, runnier and is easier to clean up. Talk to your baby’s paediatrician to know more.

Yellow, seedy and ‘sweet-smelling’: Breastfed babies have 3-4 mustard-yellow, seedy, loose stools every 24 hours during their first week of life. Talk to your baby’s paediatrician to know more.

Darker, tan and ‘strong-smelling’: Formula-fed babies shave thicker, darker stools once a day (or more often) from the first day. They are usually tan but can be yellow or greenish. It is usually more paste-like; the consistency is similar to peanut butter. A change from breast to formula feeding often causes a change in the colour and texture of their stool. Talk to your baby’s paediatrician to know more.

Greenish-brown: Introducing solid food (around 6 months) produces darker brown stools which smell more than when just on milk feeds. As more foods are added to the baby’s diet, you might notice other colours such as orange and yellow. Talk to your baby’s paediatrician to know more.

Usually brownish, more solid: Your baby’s poop will gradually bulk up to a play-doh like consistency and smell more like regular grown-up poop. Talk to your baby’s paediatrician to know more.

Dark green: While the dark green poop may look alarming, it’s typically not a cause for concern. Some iron-fortified infant formulas or iron supplements can make the poop look dark green. Talk to your baby’s paediatrician to know more.

Bright green, frothy: This colour may be seen in breastfed babies who switch breasts often, consuming more lower-fat than full-fat milk. Try nursing until your baby drains the breast before switching. However, if your baby isn’t acting normally it is advised to call your paediatrician because viruses can also cause bright green stools. Talk to your baby’s paediatrician to know more.

When should you call your doctor?1

Contact your paediatrician right away if you see any of the following:

Red: While eating beets, certain medications or food colourings could also result in red poop, red streaks in a diaper could indicate blood in the stool. Talk to your baby’s paediatrician to know more.

Chalk white: White poop means your baby isn’t producing bile (the substance which gives your stool its colour) and can be an indication of a serious liver or gallbladder problem. Talk to your baby’s paediatrician to know more.

Black: While black, tar-like poop is normal in new-borns, it is a cause for concern if your baby is older than 3 days. This type of thick, black stool is called melena and could be a sign that blood has entered your baby’s upper gastrointestinal tract. Talk to your baby’s paediatrician to know more.

What to look out for?1

Too liquidy (diarrhoea): While baby poop isn’t as solid as adult poop, it shouldn’t be extremely loose and watery also as it could be a sign of infection and may put your baby at risk for dehydration. Consult your baby’s paediatrician for treating diarrhoea.

Too hard (constipation): If your baby is straining to pass stool and is producing hard stools, your baby is constipated. Sometimes, a baby’s digestive tract absorbs too much water, its best to talk to your paediatrician as there may be some simple solutions to treat constipation in babies.  

Since it’s not always easy to tell what’s normal and what’s not, it’s best to call your paediatrician if you have any doubts regarding your baby’s bowel movement.

References:

  1. Cleveland Clinic. The color of baby poop and what it means- What’s normal? When to worry? [Internet]. Available at: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/the-color-of-baby-poop-and-what-it-me.... Accessed on Feb 25, 2020.
  2. National Health Service. Baby poo- My baby’s nappy. [Internet]. Available at: http://www.dchs.nhs.uk/home/our-services/find_services_by_topic/healthvi.... Accessed on Feb 25, 2020.