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Everything You Need to Know about Newborn Poop
Updated on
September 11, 2023

Everything You Need to Know about Newborn Poop

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Everything You Need to Know about Newborn Poop.
Everything You Need to Know about Newborn Poop

Newborns are guaranteed to do three things: eat, sleep and poop. And while you might know that newborn feeding and sleep have a bit of a learning curve, it may be surprising to find out that there’s a lot to know about your baby’s bowel habits, too.

There’s a pretty wide variety of baby poop, and while a lot of it is totally normal, there are some colors and consistencies that warrant a call to your pediatrician. Here’s a look at what all you might see in your baby’s diaper.

How often should a newborn poop?

You’re likely to see your baby’s very first poop within the first 24 to 48 hours after they’re born. Their first bowel movement is actually a substance called meconium (more on that further down), which may last for baby’s first few days.

You can actually estimate how often your newborn should poop during their first five days: for each day old your baby is, they should poop that number of times. So you can expect a one-day-old to poop once, a two-day-old to poop twice, and so on.

After that, the frequency of bowel movements is typically different from baby to baby. “Baby poop frequency is highly variable,” says Dr. Krupa Playforth, otherwise known as The Pediatrician Mom. “Some babies poop eight times per day, while others poop once every few days. Believe it or not, both can be normal!”

Your baby’s bowel movements may even change frequency multiple times over their first year, especially as their diet changes. Switching from breast milk to formula, changing from one formula to another and introducing solids are all culprits for varying bowel habits.

What if my baby is constipated?

If your baby hasn’t pooped in a while, check for signs of discomfort and reduced eating. If they aren’t pushing, straining or experiencing abdominal discomfort and are eating their usual amount, baby’s bowel movements may just not be as frequent as you thought.

If it seems like your baby is struggling to poop and is eating less than usual, let their pediatrician know. They may recommend some doctor-approved home remedies for constipation, but if those don’t work, your baby’s pediatrician will check for other issues.

“[Your baby] may have anatomical reasons for struggling to pass the stool itself,” Dr. Playforth says. “Or they may have a condition termed infantile dyschezia, which is when they appear to be straining and struggling but they are not actually constipated (and the stool that comes out is normal in consistency).”

Keep in mind: You may be tempted to give your baby some water to drink if you think they may constipated, but don’t give them water without talking with a pediatrician first.

Newborn poop colors and textures

Newborn poop tends to vary a little more than adults’, and it’s normal to see a few more colors of the rainbow in your baby’s bowel movements. Here’s a handy baby poop chart for reference:

Normal Not Normal (Call a pediatrician)
Brown (light, medium or dark) Black
Green White
Yellow Red
Seedy Solid/hard
Soft/peanut butter texture Pebble-like

Most breastfed baby poop is yellow and seedy, especially if they haven’t started eating solid foods yet. If your baby’s poop is green, that’s normal too.

For formula-fed babies, it’s common to see thicker, greener and less frequent bowel movements, Dr. Playforth says. It’s also normal to see any shade of brown, especially dark brown in baby’s first couple of poops and medium brown in formula-fed babies.

Bowel movements will also become thicker over time, especially once baby starts eating solid foods. However, they should still be somewhat soft.

When to call the doctor

If you notice any hard and/or pebble-like poops, it could be a sign of constipation and should be checked out by your baby’s doctor. Likewise, contact your pediatrician if you see watery stools in baby’s diaper—that’s diarrhea, and it could be a sign of infection.

Besides solid or watery textures, there are also certain colors to watch out for. “Black, white or red poop can indicate underlying issues, such as blood in the stool or a liver problem,” Dr. Playforth says. Keep in mind that if you’re breastfeeding and have cracked, bleeding nipples, very small amounts of blood can enter baby’s digestive system, so you may see slight tinges of red in baby’s diaper. But anything more than a few drops warrants a call to the doctor.

What is meconium?

Baby’s first poop, known as meconium, is typically very dark brown, thick and sticky, almost like tar. It’s waste from all the amniotic fluid baby was drinking in utero. You might see meconium for the first couple of bowel movements when your baby is less than a few days old; after that, you’ll start to see baby’s poop turn yellow or slightly green and become a lot softer and less sticky.

This article was reviewed for factual accuracy in February 2023 by Dr. Malavika Prabhu, maternal-fetal medicine specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, MA, Assistant Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology at Harvard Medical School and member of the Babylist Health Advisory Board.


Babylist Staff

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