If you haven’t changed many diapers in your day — or at least haven’t done so since you babysat little ones back in your middle school days — then you may not know what to expect when preparing to change your newborn’s diapers and see baby poop for the first time in a while!
And while there is nothing about poop that is rocket science, it could be said that some babies poop with rocket speed, and others can have major jet lag. In other words, all baby poop is not created equal—in frequency, color, ease, etc.! So today, I would like to offer you a brief intro into what you might be in for as you enter into the land of baby poop, where they are letting it all out. Puns intended.
“Ewwwwww. What is that black stuff that looks like tar coming out of my baby’s bottom two hours post-birth? How can my baby produce something so gross and unlike any poop I’ve ever seen?”
These might be a few questions that cross your mind when you see the first poop from your newborn called meconium. And just what is it? Well, even though it looks like a foreign element that should come out of a truck and not a baby, it’s actually just a combination of things ingested by your baby while hanging out inside of you (including amniotic fluid and mucus). And while it is sticky as can be and can fill their diaper repeatedly over the first day or two, it has no horrible smell — which is weird but cool. So just know, the poop begins a darkish green color that almost looks black, then progressively lightens. And to keep it from sticking to your baby’s bum, try using some healing balm or coconut oil!
Breast Milk Poop vs. Formula Poop
If you are expecting adult-like poop from your breastfed baby, you will be pleased to find out that baby poop is not solid and not really that smelly. In fact, it is rather runny and liquidy. Comparing it to mustard (especially when you haven’t shaken up the bottle) can be a great way to think of it. And its texture can even at times be seedy! Yes. I said seedy, which makes no sense since the only thing your baby is eating is milk with no seeds. But that texture is normal.
Formula poop tends to be slightly thicker and darker in color than breastmilk poop. Many parents say it is similar to peanut butter in thickness. And it tends to have a stronger smell than breastmilk poop but is nowhere near as strong as the poop that happens when your baby starts eating solids. Think of it as having a nice transitional smell—if that’s possible.
As mentioned above, once your baby begins to transition out of meconium poop, their poop will progressively lighten in color. It will start as a blackish color and transition to dark brown, then brown, dark yellow, and then to lighter yellow. Poop can vary in color of browns and yellow per baby, or per stool, and be normal. Poop can also be green but is often a sign of illness or too much foremilk, so here’s a quick guide of what to expect.
- Light Brown to Yellow: Everything is good!
- Bright Green without Mucous: A green diaper here or there is not a big deal, but if it is a constant thing in your baby, there is possibly a hindmilk (the rich fatty milk for hunger) versus foremilk (the lowfat milk for thirst) imbalance in baby. This means baby is getting too much of the foremilk that comes first and not enough of the fatty milk. And while this isn’t life-threatening, contacting your local La Leche League for ways to get your milk more balanced may be good. Because babies need hindmilk too, and too much foremilk can cause excessive spitting up! I would know because I often overproduce!
- Green with Mucous: This poop is likely a sign of a temporary virus or allergy. Check with your doctor if baby keeps them for several days.
- Red: Call the doctor. While a little blood in the stool can be a sign of an allergy or irritation of the anus from constipation, it is better to check with a doctor. Blood should not continuously be in stool and could be an indication of an intestinal infection.
- Black: Call the doctor. Blackish stool that is truly dark red is a sign of something serious called milena, or digested blood.
- White: Call the doctor. Liver or gallbladder issues are indicated by white and chalky poop.
My first son pooped essentially every time he ate, and my second son would wait days between bowel movements. I remember calling my doctor after my second son came home from the hospital because I had fed him, and he did not have poop in his diaper. I was mystified! And worried. Oh, no. He’s constipated. But he wasn’t. He just had his own digestive system unique from his brother’s system. It is normal for a newborn to poop after every feeding, up to 6-10 times a day until 6 weeks of age, when the frequency normally decreases. It is also normal for a newborn to have 1-2 bowel movements a week. The time to be concerned is if their poop habits suddenly change and baby seems uncomfortable.
A newborn can become constipated, but it isn’t very common. If they have one bowel movement where their poop is more solid than normal, you probably have no room for concern. But you might want to call the doctor if it continues for several bowel movements. This could be a sign that baby is intolerant to something in the mother’s milk or may have a milk or soy allergy.
However, constipation is MUCH more common once babies switch from breastmilk to real food. The digestive systems can begin to have more trouble digesting real food since no food is as easy on the digestive system as breastmilk. Giving babies a little water or prune juice in their bottle can help keep things moving in times like those. Do make sure to check with your doctor on what proportion they recommend. Just like adults, certain foods might be triggering constipation in your baby — like too much milk or dairy — so be on the lookout for troublesome foods.
Some babies struggle with diaper rash more than other babies! And oftentimes, diaper rash is related to something mom is eating that irritates baby’s bottom. With my latest son, it seems every time I eat peanut butter, he breaks out in a bad rash! So be aware of what you’re eating if the diaper rash seems to be taking over. And next to finding a diaper cream that works for your baby, sometimes letting the bottom air dry can be just the ticket!
Cheers to all things poop!