Infant Stools


Infant Stools when Breastfed or Bottle-fed

Article updated: 2 April, 2019

Warning, this page contains pictures of baby poop!

Weird subject to be talking about, but most mothers want to know about their baby’s stool.

"Is he constipated?"

"Does he have diarrhea?"

"Why is my baby's poop a different color?"

Here we discuss what is normal and what is not, when it comes to infant stool.

exploding nappy, animated giff, baby giff, cute giff, breastfeeding giff


Your Baby’s First Poop (Meconium)

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, baby's first stools, newborn poopMeconium

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. 
breastmilk poop pictures, breastmilk stoolsTypical 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 poop frequency, bowel movement chart for babiesBreastfed Baby Bowel Movement Frequency


Newborn Urination

changing a diaper, diaper changing comical

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. 


Constipation

fat baby, breastfed baby

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.

Hard, pebble-like stools are an indication of constipation. See, "how to tell if my baby is constipated." 



Diarrhea

stinky poop, stinky nappy, stinky diaper

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. 

Should I give my breastfed baby Pedialyte?


The Color of Your Baby's Stool

Green Bowel Movements

  • 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.
transitional poop, baby's stoolStool with half-digested food
green poop, green breastfed poop, green stoolsYellowish-Green Stools

Black Poop

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


In Conclusion


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. 
  • Your milk should come in between day 3 and 6. Here are things that may delay the onset of mature breast milk production. Also, see "when will my milk come in?"

Other signs to look out for. 

Nursing frequently during the first few weeks after birth is vital; this will help a mother build a good supply. 

Things That Are Normal!

  • Frequent and long feedings. 
  • Cluster feeding, especially in the evenings when your baby may seem fussier. 
  • Fussier than usual days. These are called growth spurts and usually, last for only a few days at a time. 

If there is a sudden change in your baby's bowel movements and your baby seems as though they are in pain, you should contact your doctor. 


More information about Failure to thrive / Growth failure

My Baby Has Green Poop Diarrhea

by Lorena Herrera

(Costa Mesa, CA)

"Hello, my name is Lorena Herrera, I have a two and 1/2 month baby boy. Also, I am a first-time parent, and of course, I have many questions!

My son has been pooping more than usual and it's green diarrhea-like poop, is this normal? He has no fever, but off and on he seems cranky.

Is he dehydrated??

Every time I breastfeed he poops, is that okay?

I need help PLEASE! Thank you so much!"


Re: Green Runny Stools in Baby

by: Tracy

"Hi Lorena, the crankiness and green stools are signs of foremilk hindmilk imbalance.

This is easy to fix, start feeding baby from only one breast each time he breastfeeds — alternating breasts with each feeding session.

This will fix any oversupply issues and will help your baby get in more of the fattier hindmilk at the end of a feed.

Please read more here...

Oversupply and foremilk imbalance

The signs of dehydration are discussed here

One thing I also wanted to mention is that it is normal for breastfed babies to poop after every meal. 

Hope this helps."


Green and Mucoidal Poop

"Since my baby started having formula milk, her poop became green, and there are times that she even has diarrhea.

She poops 5 to 6 times a day. We thought of changing her formula milk, but then she stopped having an episode of diarrhea. We decided not to change anymore.

But then here it goes again. Shes having diarrhea for two days and what made me worried is that in her poop there is mucus and it is green. She still passed out stool 7 to 8 times but minimal amounts. What could be the reason?"

Re: Unusual poop

by: Lyssa

"It is common for formula-fed babies to have poop that is more green in color than exclusively breastfed babies.

It is also not unusual for some babies to have an adverse reaction to the formula they are given. Any changes in bowel movements or your baby should be discussed with your child's medical professional to help find a proper diagnosis and solution. You may have to switch your baby to a different brand or type of formula."


Green Mucus Stools Since About 3 Weeks Old

"My 4-month-old daughter has had consistent green mucousy stools since about three weeks of age.

She used to be extraordinarily gassy but seems to have outgrown most of this.

I have done block feeding on the recommendation of my LC. I have also gone dairy-free (although I am sure I have eaten hidden dairy at times).

Her green mucus stools remain. She can also go from spitting up 2-3 times a day to as much as 30 times a day.

She has ever only eaten from 1 breast with each feeding and has only ever nursed for approximately 6 minutes at a time, until last week when she started feeding for about 45 minutes at a time very frequently.

At that time her stools became more liquid and more frequent (with every feeding). Her weight gain has always been good until this last month where she only gained 8oz.

She is happy and content for the most part. Do I need to worry about the green mucousy stools if she is content? Should I continue to block feed and cut out dairy?

Please Help!"

Re: green stool and mucus

by: Tracy

"This sounds like a lactose overload to me. You can continue to block feed.

There are many mixed views on whether a mother should avoid certain foods. New research suggests that pregnant and breastfeeding mothers should not avoid any foods unless they have had their baby test positive for a specific food allergy. They say that avoidance on its own can cause an allergy. BUT, my personal opinion is that we as humans are all allergic to cow's milk. I don't allow any dairy in my house. I believe that it causes mucus to build up and inflammation in a person's body and contrary to popular belief, it is not a good source of calcium. It has been found to leach the bones of calcium.

Since your baby is happy and content, you don't need to worry too much about the green tinge or the mucus."


Greenish Stool

"My 3-month-old son has greenish stool immediately after he is breastfed.

Please, what should I do?"

Re: A maturing gut

by: Tracy

"Frequent bowel movements in breastfed babies are normal. The frequency and even the color is not a problem unless your baby is showing signs of increased fussiness or delay in growth and weight gain. The stools should become less frequent and will most likely change in color and texture between the 4th and 6th month. Your baby's digestive system is still maturing."

Hasn't Had a Poop

by Worried mom

"My son is almost four months old and is completely breastfed and hasn't had a poop in 5 days. I was told to give him a suppository, and if it was to happen again, not let it go for more then three days.

I have read multiple articles, some saying it can take up to 7-10 days for my little guy to have a bowel movement. I don't want him to rely on the suppositories to poo, that's why I haven't given it to him; I'm kind of hoping he goes on his own.

I've tried tummy massages, cycling his legs and bathing him, he's passing gas no problem and is generally his usual happy self but no bowel movement. Any suggestions as to what I should do?

I don't want to give him a suppository again I think it was traumatizing enough for both of us the first time."

Re: Don't worry.

by: Tracy

"Wow, whoever advised not waiting longer than three days doesn't know a thing about breastfeeding!

You don't need to worry at all, if the baby is happy (as you say he is) he does not need a suppository.

Yes, your baby can go up to 10 days without a poop, but when he does poop, the stool should not be hard and it should not be difficult for him to pass. (this advice does not apply to formula-fed babies)

Give him a chance and see what happens, if after 8 - 10 days he still hasn't had a bowel movement, I would advise that you see a breastfeeding-friendly pediatrician."


Can Cow's Milk Cause White Poop?

"My baby is 4 months and he is passing white stool. He is not taking breast milk nor formula. I started giving diluted cow's milk 1:1 ratio. Will that cause white poop?"

Malnourished

by: Tracy

"Hi, babies need a certain amount of vitamins, fats, and nutrients in the form of breast milk or formula up until the age of one or longer if they have not entirely weaned onto solid foods.

Diluted cow's milk will not offer your child what he/she needs to grow and stay healthy. The white stools are most definitely a sign that something is amiss. I assume that it is because your baby is malnourished and struggling to digest the cow's milk proteins. Children under the age of 1 should not be given cow's milk at all; their digestive systems cannot yet handle the protein in the cow's milk.

Please talk to a doctor or pediatrician about this. You need to get your baby onto breast milk or formula as soon as possible."

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