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Baby Poo - What You Need to Know

Your baby’s poo lets you know how well their digestive system is performing, and what is ‘normal’ is a source of common confusion for most parents. Basically, what goes in one end will determine what comes out the other! If you are concerned about your baby’s poo, you should speak to your doctor.

10 mins to read May 29, 2024

As a new parent, there's a wealth of information you need to navigate. That's why we've compiled this guide to help you decipher your baby's poo. In this article, we'll discuss everything from recognising normal poo to understanding your baby’s poo colour and what that might mean. We'll also delve into how your baby's diet can influence their poo patterns, offer solutions to common poo dilemmas and offer tips on when to seek medical help. So, let's jump in and explore the fascinating world of your baby's poo!


Recognising normal baby poo 

While across the board there is a wide range of ‘normal’ when it comes to baby poo, knowing what's normal for your baby's poo is crucial. While it may not be the most pleasant topic, observing your baby's bowel movements can give valuable insights into their health.

Here are a few essential aspects to consider:

  • Colour and consistency changes: Newborn with green poop? Don’t worry, baby poo can vary in colour, texture, and consistency.  Your baby’s very first bowel movement arrives in the first 24 hours and is called meconium. This newborn poo colour is dark greenish black, thick and sticky, and consists of all the intestinal substances that an unborn foetus ingests while in the womb - cells, hair, mucus, amniotic fluid, bile and water. The colour may then change to yellow or green, depending on their diet. Breastfed babies often have mustard-yellow, grainy stools, that may have chunky curds of undigested milk fat. Formula-fed newborn poop may be firmer, and vary in colour ranging from yellow, green, brown, or even grey depending on which type of formula they are on. However, if there are major changes in colour or consistency, it's wise to consult your healthcare professional.
  • Bowel movement frequency: Newborns generally have several bowel movements a day, sometimes after every feed. As your baby grows, their bowel movements may become less frequent. For breastfed babies, one bowel movement a day or even one every few days is considered normal. Formula-fed babies frequency may vary from several times per day to once per week depending on your baby and the type of formula they are on. Every baby is different, so as long as your little one is comfortable and their poo isn't hard or pellet-like, there's usually no need to worry.
  • Smell: Baby poo does have a unique smell, but it shouldn't be overly offensive. Breastfed baby poo typically has a mild, sweet smell, while formula-fed baby poo may smell slightly more pungent. If your baby's poo has a very strong or foul smell, it could indicate an underlying issue like an infection or digestive problem. It's always best to consult your healthcare professional if you're worried.


What different poo colours may indicate

Monitoring your baby's poo colour can provide valuable insights into their digestive health. Here's a rundown of what different baby poo colours may indicate:

  • Green poo: Frothy infant poop that is green in colour could indicate your baby is getting too much foremilk and not enough hindmilk during breastfeeding. This can happen if your baby doesn't breastfeed long enough on each breast. A newborn with dark green poop could still be expelling the meconium after birth, and should change over time as they consume more breast milk. An older formula-fed infant with dark green poop is sometimes due to the iron content in the formula and is nothing to worry about. If you notice consistent green poo, talk to your healthcare professional.
  • Yellow poo: Yellow poo is normal for breastfed babies. It indicates your baby is getting a balanced mix of foremilk and hindmilk. However, if your baby's poo is consistently pale or clay-coloured, it might signify a liver or gallbladder issue. In such cases, it's important to seek medical advice.
  • Red, black or white poo: While it's rare, red, black or white poo can be worrying. Red poo could indicate blood in your baby's stool, which may be due to various reasons such as a milk protein allergy, anal fissures, or a gastrointestinal infection. Black poo may indicate digested blood, which can be a result of bleeding in the upper gastrointestinal tract. White or pale grey poo may indicate maldigestion. If you notice red, black, or white poo, contact your healthcare provider immediately.


Diet influences on baby poo patterns

Understanding your baby's poo patterns can provide valuable insight into their health and well-being. It's essential to know how breastfeeding or formula feeding, introducing solids, and specific foods can affect your baby's poo.

  • If your baby is breastfed, their poo will be a yellowish mustard colour (sometimes greenish or orange/brown). It is a soft consistency and often unformed, with a sweet smell, and you will likely see poo at every nappy change or less often as the digestive system matures. Breastfed babies don’t usually suffer from constipation unless there is an underlying health problem.  If there is any jaundice (not uncommon in the early days and is characterised by yellowish skin) your baby’s poo could be pale until the jaundice is gone. Consult your health care professional if you are concerned.
  • Formula-fed newborn poop is generally firmer and may vary in colour ranging from yellow, green or brown depending on which type of formula they are on. Their poo will be more pungent, and frequency may vary from several times per day to once per week depending on your baby and the type of formula they are on.
  • If you are using a combination of breastfeeding and infant formula, your baby’s poo will vary between the descriptions above depending on the amount of breast milk to infant formula.
  • Introducing solids into your baby's diet at around 6 months of age will noticeably change their poo. You may see changes in colour, consistency, and frequency. Their poo will become thicker and more formed, resembling adult stools. New foods can also cause temporary colour changes.
  • Certain foods can impact your baby's poo. If breastfeeding, you may find some foods that mum eats, affects the baby’s comfort.  Common offenders are foods known to cause gas, such as beans or cabbage, and can cause poo changes in your baby. Similarly, introducing new foods can cause temporary changes as their digestive system adapts. Also, if your baby transitions from breastfeeding to infant formula or between formulas, it is normal for there to be changes in bowel motions including the texture and colour of their poo.

Remember, every baby is unique, and their poo patterns may vary. If you have concerns about your baby's poo or overall health, it's always best to consult with your healthcare provider.


Common poo problems and solutions

Addressing common poo problems can be challenging. In this section, we'll discuss common poo issues and provide solutions to help you manage them effectively.


Constipation: Constipation is when your baby has difficulty passing hard and dry stools. To help alleviate constipation, you can:

  • Ensure your baby is well hydrated. If they have started on solid food, offer plenty of fluids and include fibre-rich foods like pureed fruits and vegetables in their diet.
  • Gently massage your baby's tummy in a clockwise motion, or help them with leg exercises (or lots of play if they’re already on their feet). This may help to stimulate and encourage bowel movement.

Diarrhoea: Diarrhoea is characterised by frequent, watery stools. It can be caused by various factors, including viral or bacterial infections. To manage diarrhoea in your baby:

  • Offer plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.
  • Continue to breastfeed or formula-feed your baby.
  • Babies can dehydrate very quickly and become quite sick. Consult a healthcare professional without delay if the diarrhoea persists or if your baby shows any sign of dehydration. Some signs of dehydration can include dark coloured urine, less wet nappies, they have a dry mouth, lips or tongue, and are thirsty.

Allergies or Intolerance: Some babies may develop allergies or intolerances to certain foods. Common signs include skin rashes, vomiting, diarrhoea. In severe cases they may experience swelling around the mouth or face, and difficulty breathing – these reactions require immediate medical attention! To identify and manage these reactions, you can:

  • Consult with a healthcare professional to identify specific allergens or intolerances. Don’t self-diagnose.
  • Keep a food diary to track any patterns between symptoms and diet.
  • Consider eliminating specific foods from your baby's diet under professional guidance.
  • Consider talking to your healthcare professional about using a hypoallergenic formula if your baby is formula-fed.

Remember, every baby is unique, and it's important to consult with a healthcare professional if you have any concerns about your baby's poo or overall health.


Seeking medical advice

While most changes in your baby's poo are normal, there are certain warning signs that suggest you should seek medical advice immediately.

  • Red coloured stools - One warning sign is blood in your baby's stool. This could be a sign of a serious issue, such as an infection or gastrointestinal problem.
  • White coloured stools – chalk white or grey stools may indicate malabsorption or organ problems.
  • Black coloured stools – Only a newborns poo colour should be black in colour, known as meconium, and only lasts a few days. If this colour persists it could mean something more serious is going on.
  • Other warning signs include persistent diarrhoea, constipation that lasts for more than a few days, or sudden change in the colour, consistency, or frequency of your baby's poo if it’s accompanied with your baby being distressed or not putting on weight.

If you notice any of these warning signs, it's important to consult a doctor as soon as possible. They can diagnose any poo-related problems through a physical examination, reviewing your baby's medical history, and possibly ordering further tests.

The treatment options for common poo-related issues will vary depending on the specific problem. For example, if your baby is constipated, the doctor may recommend dietary changes or certain medications. If your baby has diarrhoea, the doctor may suggest rehydration solutions and diet adjustments.

Remember, when it comes to your baby's health, it's always better to be safe than sorry. If you have any concerns about your baby's poo, don't hesitate to seek medical advice. Your doctor can provide the necessary guidance to ensure your baby's well-being.

Frequently asked questions about baby poo

How often should a newborn poop?

Every newborn will have different bowel movement patterns, but on average, they may have several bowel movements a day, or as infrequently as once every few days. Breast fed babies may have more frequent bowel motions than those who are formula-fed, but as long as your baby’s poop is soft and easy to pass, they are gaining weight, and are content, there is usually no cause for concern.

What does newborn diarrhoea look like?

Newborn diarrhoea is typically characterised by watery or very runny stools that are more frequent than usual. The colour may vary, it may be green, yellow or brown, and it may have a stronger odour than normal. If you notice persistent watery, runny, or foamy poop, and your baby is showing signs of distress, you should seek medical attention as soon as practical. Diarrhoea can cause dehydration in a baby and make them very ill.

When should I be concerned about baby poo?

While there is quite a range of ‘normal’ when it comes to your baby’s poop, there are a few tell-tale signs that your baby’s poo may require medical review. If it is an unusual colour, including red (blood), white or black; if your baby is quite distressed when doing a poo and you think they might be constipated; if they are going too frequently with a watery or frothy texture; or has an unusually foul smell. If you have concerns, it’s always best to talk to your healthcare professional for an accurate assessment and personalised advice.

What is normal in baby poop?

There is a big range of ‘normal’ when it comes to baby poop.  It can vary in colour, consistency and frequency depending on whether a baby is breast fed or formula-fed. Normal baby poop should not contain blood, mucus, or have a foul smell. It is normal for breast fed babies to have frequent bowel movements, while formula-fed babies may have fewer but larger stools. If you have concerns about your baby's poop, consult with a healthcare professional for personalised advice.

What does unhealthy baby poop look like?

Unhealthy baby poo can vary in appearance, smell and frequency and may indicate an underlying issue that you should get checked out by your healthcare professional as soon as practical.  Some indications that your little one’s poo is unhealthy and warrants further investigation is if they have blood in their stool; it’s a pale white or grey in colour; is extremely watery or explosive; or appears like hard pellets that are dry and difficult to pass.