Your baby's poo: what's normal and what's not (2024)

All babies are different, and what's normal for your little one will depend on:

  • how old she is
  • whether she's breastfed or formula-fed
  • whether she's started solids (Cherney and Gill 2018, NCT nd,a, NHS 2018a)

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What will my newborn's poos be like?

In the first day after the birth, your baby should pass meconium (Cherney and Gill 2018, NCT nd,a, NHS 2018a, NICE 2021). Meconium is greenish-black in colour (NCT nd,a, NHS 2018a), and has a sticky, tar-like texture (Cherney and Gill 2018, NCT nd,a, NHS 2018a). It's made up of mucus, amniotic fluid, and everything your baby has ingested while she was in your womb (Cherney and Gill 2018).

Meconium may be difficult to wipe off your baby's tiny bottom (Cherney and Gill 2018, NCT nd,a, NHS 2018a), but its appearance is a good sign that her bowels are working normally (Wardle and England 2014). If your baby hasn't passed meconium in the first 24 hours, speak to your midwife or doctor (NICE 2021).

What does healthy baby poo look like?

See our visual guide to what you can expect to see in your baby's nappy.
Check it out!

What will my baby's poos be like if I'm breastfeeding?

Your colostrum, or first milk, acts as a laxative, helping to push meconium out of your baby's system (Dunbar and Taylor 2017). Once your milk comes in, after about three days, your baby's poos will gradually change (Dunbar and Taylor 2017). They will be:

  • At least the size of a £2 coin (Chertoff and Gill 2018).
  • Lighter in colour, changing from a greenish brown to bright or mustard yellow (Cherney and Gill 2018, Dunbar and Taylor 2017, NCT nd,a, NHS 2018a). This yellow poo may smell slightly sweet (Chertoff and Gill 2018).
  • Loose in texture. The poos may be soft and runny (Cherney and Gill 2018, Chertoff and Gill 2018, NHS 2018a), almost like diarrhoea, and may seem grainy at times (Cherney and Gill 2018, Chertoff and Gill 2018).

On average, babies tend to do about four poos a day in the first week (NHS 2018a), but this can vary from baby to baby. After the first week, your little one may poo after every feed (NHS 2018a). This will slowly settle down and her bowels will work out their own routine (NHS 2018a).

After about three to six weeks, some breastfed babies will only poo once every few days (NHS 2018a, Chertoff and Gill 2018) or once a week (Cherney and Gill 2018). This is not a problem as long as your baby's poos are soft and are passed easily (NHS 2018a).

Will formula-feeding affect my baby's poos?

If you're formula-feeding your baby, her poos may be different from a breastfed baby's (Cherney and Gill 2018, NCT nd,a, NHS 2018a). You may notice they are:

  • Firmer in texture (Cherney and Gill 2018, NCT nd,a, NHS 2018a), often a bit like peanut butter (Rucoba and Gill 2016) or paste (NHS 2018a).
  • Darker in colour, often tan or light brown (Cherney and Gill 2018, NHS 2018a). Some types of formula can also cause dark green poo (NHS 2018a). If your baby seems otherwise well, this is nothing to worry about (NHS 2018a, Rucoba and Gill 2016).
  • Strong-smelling, more like an adult's (NHS 2018a).

Your baby may poo up to five times a day in the early weeks (NHS 2018a). After a month or two, she may go once a day (NHS 2018a).

Will my baby's poos change if I switch from breastmilk to formula milk?

Yes, they will. You may notice that your baby's poos become darker and more paste-like (NHS 2018a). They will also be smellier (NHS 2018a)!

While you're making the change from breastmilk to formula, try to do it slowly (NHS 2016a), ideally over a period of at least several weeks (LLLGB 2016). This will give your baby's digestive system time to adapt (NHS 2016a). It will also reduce the risk of painful, swollen breasts and mastitis for you (LLLGB 2016).

Once your baby has adapted to the bottle, she may settle down into a completely different pooing routine.

What will my baby's poos be like when she starts solids?

Once your baby's eating solid foods, you'll probably find that her poos are affected by what she eats. If you feed her pureed carrot, the contents of her next nappy may be bright orange. And be prepared for a fright after her first taste of beetroot (Cherney and Gill 2018)!

You may find that some hard-to-digest foods, such as raisins, sweetcorn or beans, pass straight through your baby and end up in her nappy (Cherney and Gill 2018). This will probably change when she gets older and her digestive system matures.

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As she moves on to a wide variety of foods, your baby's poos will become thicker, darker, and a lot more smelly (Cherney and Gill 2018).

Can teething affect my baby's poo?

Many parents report that that their baby's poo is a bit runnier (Wright 2018), or even frothy-looking (Cherney and Gill 2018), during teething. However, teething shouldn't give your baby diarrhoea (Wright 2018) – even if you're convinced that's what's causing her runny poos, it's still best to care for her as you would for any bout of diarrhoea.

VIDEO

What sort of poo is not normal?

Diarrhoea

It can be hard to tell if your little one has diarrhoea, particularly if she's breastfed (Cherney and Gill 2018). It's normal for a baby to do runny poos (Cherney and Gill 2018), or to go after every feed (NHS 2018a). The occasional "explosive" poo is also normal, and nothing to worry about (Dunbar & Taylor 2017).

However, your baby may have diarrhoea if:

  • her poo is very watery
  • she is pooing more often, or passing larger amounts than normal
  • she's started solids, and is pooing more than three times a day (Fleisher and Matson 2017)

Learn more about diarrhoea in babies, including when to see your GP.

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Constipation

Constipation is rare in exclusively breastfed babies, but fairly common among babies who are formula-fed or on solids (NCT nd,b). If your baby strains, goes red or cries when she does a poo, this doesn't necessarily mean she's constipated (NHS 2018a, Rucoba and Gill 2016). As long as her poos are soft, there's no cause for concern (NHS 2018a).

Your baby may have constipation if:

  • She seems more uncomfortable than usual when doing a poo. Constipation causes some babies to arch their back and clench their bottom muscles (Sood 2018).
  • Her poos are hard and dry. They may be large and difficult for her to pass, or smaller, a bit like rabbit droppings (Sood 2018).
  • There are streaks of blood in her nappy. This can be a sign that hard poo is irritating the inside of her bottom, causing tiny tears in the skin (Holland and Gill 2018).
  • Her tummy feels hard to the touch (Holland and Gill 2018).
  • She has less appetite than usual (Holland and Gill 2018).

Learn more about constipation in babies, including when to see your GP.

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Red or black poo

Unless your baby's been eating something red, such as beetroot (Cherney and Gill 2018), a red colour can be a sign that there's blood in your baby's poo (Rucoba and Gill 2016). Black poo is common in the first few days, but after that, it can also be a sign of blood (older blood looks darker) (Rucoba and Gill 2016).

If you see blood in your baby's poo, try not to panic. It could just be a sign that she's swallowed a little bit of blood, for example if you're breastfeeding with cracked nipples (Rucoba and Gill 2016). Or she may have a tiny tear in the skin around her bottom (Rucoba and Gill 2016), often from constipation. However, it can sometimes be a sign of illness, so always take her to your GP, just to be on the safe side (Fleisher and Matston 2017, Rucoba and Gill 2016).

Very pale poo

Very pale poo can be a sign that your baby isn't digesting food properly because of problems with her liver (Cherney and Gill 2018, Rucoba and Gill 2016). Babies with liver problems often develop jaundice, so you may also notice a yellow tinge to your baby's skin (NICE 2015, Rucoba and Gill 2016). If your baby's poo is very pale (close to white or grey), see your GP as soon as possible (Cherney and Gill 2018, Rucoba and Gill 2016).

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In general, what's "normal" varies a lot from baby to baby (Rucoba and Gill 2016). You know your little one best, and with time, you'll get to know what's normal for her. If you notice a change in your baby's poo and you're not sure what's caused it, you can always speak to your midwife, health visitor or GP for advice (Rucoba and Gill 2016).

More information:

  • Take a look at our baby poo photo gallery to see what's normal and what's not.
  • What does it mean if your breastfed baby does green poos? Our expert has the answer.
  • Concerned about your little one's health? Learn when to take your baby to the GP.
  • See five tips for safer nappy changes.

As an experienced expert in infant health and development, I can confidently delve into the intricacies of a newborn's bowel movements. The information presented in the article aligns with my extensive knowledge in pediatric care and nutrition. It is crucial to acknowledge that each baby is unique, and the variations in their bowel habits are influenced by factors such as age, feeding method (breastfeeding or formula-feeding), the introduction of solids, and individual physiological differences.

In the initial stages, the article rightly emphasizes the passage of meconium, a greenish-black substance composed of mucus, amniotic fluid, and ingested substances during the baby's time in the womb. This is a normal occurrence and serves as an indicator of healthy bowel function. However, a lack of meconium within the first 24 hours warrants attention and consultation with a healthcare professional.

The article also addresses the differences in baby poop based on feeding methods. For breastfed infants, the color of stool transitions from greenish brown to a mustard yellow, accompanied by a sweet smell. The texture tends to be loose and runny, resembling diarrhea, which is normal for breastfed babies. On the other hand, formula-fed babies may exhibit firmer, darker, and stronger-smelling stools, akin to peanut butter or paste. The frequency of bowel movements can vary among infants and may change as they grow.

The transition from breastmilk to formula is discussed, highlighting potential changes in stool characteristics. A gradual shift is recommended to allow the baby's digestive system to adapt, reducing the risk of discomfort for both the baby and the mother.

The introduction of solid foods is another crucial stage affecting a baby's poop. The article correctly notes that the content of the baby's diaper may vary based on the types of foods consumed. As the baby progresses to a diverse diet, the stools may become thicker, darker, and more odorous.

Teething is briefly mentioned as a factor that can impact the consistency of a baby's poop, with some parents observing a slight increase in runniness. However, it is emphasized that teething should not cause diarrhea, and proper care should be provided if such symptoms occur.

The article also sensibly discusses what constitutes normal and abnormal stool characteristics in infants. Diarrhea, constipation, the color of poop (red, black, or very pale), and associated signs of distress are outlined as potential concerns that warrant attention from healthcare professionals.

In conclusion, this comprehensive overview of infant bowel movements aligns seamlessly with established knowledge in pediatric care. Parents are encouraged to observe and understand their baby's normal poop patterns, with deviations prompting consultation with healthcare providers for appropriate guidance and intervention.

Your baby's poo: what's normal and what's not (2024)
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