A Guide To Newborn Poop

IMG_2117Every new parent goes through a crash course in types of baby poop when they bring home their newborn baby. With three to eight bowel movements a day, you quickly become used to the many shades of poop that your baby can produce, but when you are just starting out it is helpful to have a few pointers as to what is normal.

Baby’s first few poops will be greenish-black and tarry. This first stool is called meconium and is essentially just the baby’s digestive system clearing out anything left from the time in the womb. Many people think that this type of newborn poop will ruin or stain their cloth diapers but actually it will wash off just as well, and in some cases better, than the later poops. In my experience so far, none of my newborn diapers ever got a meconium stain, but a few did get breastmilk poop stains. Because this type of poop can be very thick and sticky, I found it very helpful with my daughter to spread a layer of olive or coconut oil on her bottom after each diaper change. This helped make sure the meconium wiped off well and I didn’t have to scrub her new little skin very hard.

As the meconium passes from the baby’s system, the stool will transition from greenish-brown to a seedy yellow color. This is the beginning of baby’s new normal in terms of poop. Once the baby’s digestive system gets going with milk or formula it settles into a routine of a few normal colors.

A breastfed baby will have frequent soft stools that can range in color from yellow to green to tan. The color mostly depends on how quickly milk travels through their digestive system. The consistency of the stool will remain soft, with usually a pasty or seedy appearance. A breastfed baby’s poop also doesn’t smell very bad. While it does have an odor, it is often described as more of a “sweet” smell. Typically breastfed babies will have an average of five poopy diapers a day, though it is not abnormal for a baby to sometimes go three days in between poops. As long as the stool is soft, unform, and doesn’t look like pellets, baby is most likely not constipated.

A formula fed baby will have slightly less frequent stools since formula doesn’t digest as quickly as breast milk. A normal average is about three to four poopy diapers per day. The color and smell of a formula fed baby will be a little different too. Generally the color will be more yellow-brown and the smell will be more like normal poop smell. The texture should be more like peanut butter or pudding.

While most colors from yellow to green to brown are normal for newborn poops, the colors you don’t want to see are red, white, or black. Red or black can indicate blood in the stool, and white can mean a problem with digestion or an infection. Other troublesome signs are: firmly formed or pebbly stools, very watery stools, or no stool for longer than three (for a formula fed baby) or five (for a breastfed baby) days.

In no time at all you will be an expert on what is normal with your baby’s poop, although like all moms of littles you will probably deal with and think about it more than you ever thought possible!

Becca Schwartz is a cloth diapering, baby wearing, semi-crunchy mama to a toddler and one on the way. She and her husband have a small mini-farm with a flock of chickens and a few goats, and have dreams of someday soon moving out west to start a homesteading adventure together!

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