Newborn poop “Meconium," which is usually a dark greenish or black color, looks a lot like thick, sticky tar and is excreted after birth. This newborn stool is actually bile, amniotic fluid, and dead skin cells that have collected in the baby’s intestines while in the mother’s womb.
Meconium is usually passed within 12 hours from birth but is moved out of the baby’s system faster when the baby receives colostrum (clear liquid that is produced before you produce mature milk). Breast milk is a natural laxative, so the more you breastfeed, the faster the meconium is removed from your baby’s system.
After the meconium has cleared a mother will notice something called "transitional poop," which is also darker in color but which will change into a greenish-yellow stool.
After about day 6, your baby will start to produce breast milk stools, which are yellow, soft and sometimes scrambled-egg like or seedy-looking (picture below).
Formula fed babies will eventually have stools that are firmer and in shades of tan to brown. Mothers that combination-feed their babies will notice an amalgamation of the two different types of stools mentioned.
Normal Infant Bowel Movements
Typical breastfed baby poop is usually a mustardy yellow color, grainy in texture and quite runny (unless it's the first few bowel movements, that are dark in color because of the meconium, discussed above).
Many lactating mothers say that their baby’s poop does not have a bad smell, but rather a sweetish aroma.
Some mothers might be worried that their babies have diarrhea, but loose stools are perfectly normal in breastfed babies. Breastfed babies can have up to 6 stools per day, and that's okay, as long as they are not foul smelling and watery. If you suspect diarrhea, keep an eye out for signs of dehydration.
Formula fed babies have stools that are firmer and darker in color.
Formula-fed baby poop is usually quite pasty and may look a lot like peanut butter. Their stools are a little more pungent than their breastfed counterparts.
Typical breastfed baby poop
Breastfed Baby Poop - Frequency
After the first week of life, breastfed babies usually have a bowel movement after every feed. After 6 weeks, they can continue to have up to 6 per day or one bowel movement every 7-10 days. (See table below for minimum bowel movements expected daily). Each bowel movement has to be at least 2.5cm in diameter to be considered a bowel movement.
Formula fed babies usually only poop +/- 5 times per day in the beginning, and after a few months, it decreases to about one poop per day.
Breastfed Baby Bowel Movement Frequency
A baby will pass about 30ml of urine on the first day of life.
By the end of the first week, your baby should be passing between 100 – 200ml daily.
A baby will have one additional urination for each day of life until day six. So, in other words, one urination on day 1, two wet diapers on day 2 and so forth. After this, a baby should have between 6 and 8 wet diapers per day for the first few weeks.
After 6 weeks, a baby will have a wetter diaper with each urination, so a baby may have fewer wet diapers per day.
Color and Smell of the Urine
Urine should always be pale in color and should not have a strong smell. A strong smelling, dark urine can be a sign of dehydration or another issue.
Other Urination Issues
Some babies may pass urate crystals in their urine during day one or two after birth. They may also leave reddish stains in the diaper; this is normal for the first two days, and there is no need for concern unless the little-one is not producing enough urine nappies.
Is your breastfed infant not pooping?
Breastfed babies do not need to poop every day; some breastfed babies may even go seven to ten days without a bowel movement (as mentioned above); this is because the breast milk is more easily digested than formula and there is little waste. Less waste equates to fewer bowel movements. As long as your baby's stools are soft when they do have one, and they are gaining weight, you don't need to worry about constipation.
Mothers might worry that their babies are constipated when they make noises (grunts and groans) while pooping, but this is normal. A newborn baby is still getting accustomed to the workings of their body.
Formula fed babies should have at least one bowel movement per day, and they should be soft.
A baby doesn't always necessarily have diarrhea; breastfed baby stool is supposed to be loose and quite frequent.
There will usually be a sudden change in frequency, and the stools will be runny (watery); these stools are also typically foul smelling. The baby may show signs of a fever, etc.
Try to keep your baby away from fruit juice and, if the problem persists, check that your baby does not have food sensitivities.
Breast milk is the best for a baby when your baby has diarrhea because it provides immune protection as well as gut protection. Continued breastfeeding will not just help a baby heal faster, but breast milk is much easier to digest than any formula.
Signs and Symptoms of Diarrhea in Babies
So then How do you know if it's normal or if it’s diarrhea?
Baby is producing more than 12 bowel movements in 24 hours.
The stool is watery, not just loose.
The stool smells different and may have a foul odor to it.
What Causes Diarrhea in Babies?
It is caused by any toxin elimination or irritation of the gut.
It can be caused by any illness or virus.
Food sensitivities, either due to a new food introduced into the baby’s diet or via the food in the mother’s breast milk.
Lactose intolerance, which is very rare.
Foremilk/hindmilk imbalance can occur when the mother has an oversupply of milk. This is when a baby is drinking too much foremilk (watery milk at the beginning of a feed) and not enough fatty hindmilk (more towards the end of a feed) this usually producing stool that seems like diarrhea and is typically runny, frothy and greenish in color.
NB – Caretakers should be on the lookout for signs of dehydration when a baby has diarrhea. Breastfeed as much as possible.
Most of the time, a green bowel movement is nothing to worry about.
There are a couple of things that may cause green poop:
Jaundice can cause green baby poops; this will return to normal as soon as the jaundice is resolved.
Dark green or almost black poop may occur when the baby is on an iron-fortified formula. If your baby is not on any iron-fortified formula, contact your doctor.
Green stools may be caused by food sensitivities, which may be accompanied by a rash.
Green, frothy, mucousy poop may indicate foremilk/hindmilk imbalance. Oversupply of breast milk can result in the consumption of too much watery foremilk. Allow your baby to drink from one breast, until he/she unlatches, before offering the other one, so that he/she receives the fatty hindmilk as well. (So, in other words, do not time feedings on each breast). The mother can always express the other breast and breastfeed from that side with the next breastfeeding session. This will help to reduce the supply.
If the mother eats a lot of salad or green foods, it can turn the poop green.
Stool with half-digested food
If it is not caused by the Meconium during the first few days, black poop can be the result of
taking iron supplementation or iron-fortified formula. If this
is not the case, the mother should contact a pediatrician, so that they can
check for intestinal bleeding.
Chalky White Baby Poop
White, colorless poop may be a sign of gallbladder or liver issues; this indicates a lack of bile in the liver needed to digest food. You will need to get your baby to the doctor! Other possible reasons for a white poop.
Red Blood in Poop
Bloody poop can indicate constipation. A bloody stool can also be caused by blood in breast milk, which is usually due to cracked nipples. Food allergies and intestinal bleeding may also cause this.
When Introducing Solids
Once solid foods are introduced, things begin to change again. This should be done gradually, to help prevent the baby from becoming constipated and to prevent engorgement. Many foods may change the color of an infant's poop. For example, pumpkin can turn the poop orange or peas might turn it green. Infant stools may also become more pungent, darker in color and of a thicker consistency when solids are introduced.
Sometimes you might find undigested bits of food in your baby's diaper. The occurrence of constipation and diarrhea are common when solids are introduced into a baby's diet.
Mucus in the Breastfed Infant's Stool
How Often Should Your Baby Nurse?
To reduce engorgement, you need to breastfeed frequently - at least 8 times per day. You can never nurse too often!
You should breastfeed when your baby shows hunger signs, don't wait until he/she starts to cry before you feed them. Newborns are usually quite sleepy during the first few days and may need to be woken every 2 hours to nurse.
How to Know If Your Baby Is Getting Enough Milk
Breastfed babies will often lose some weight during the first few days after birth, but will gain it back by day 10. Breastfed babies usually gain about 170g per week. You should consult your baby's pediatrician if he/she is not gaining weight.
Breastfed babies will usually have one dark (meconium) stool per day until day 4, at which point they start to have 3-4 yellow-tan stools per day until week 6. From week 6 onward, they could have one stool per feeding or one every 10 days. There is a large range of normal.
Your baby should have one urine diaper on day one, two on day two, three on day three, and so forth until your milk comes in. At this point, a baby will typically produce 5 to 6 wet diapers every day. After 6 weeks your baby may produce less wet diapers, but they will be heavier. This is because your baby's bladder can hold more urine at this point.