Ask any parent of an infant what their top concerns are and somewhere on that list will be their baby’s poop. It may not be a glamorous preoccupation, but it’s an important one nevertheless. When a baby is too young to exhibit some signs of illness or to tell you how they feel, their bowel movements provide key insight into their health. And non-parents may not realize this, but there are many different varieties of baby feces, and every variation tells you something important. So, what is normal baby poop?
- When a baby is first born, her poop will be greenish-black, tarry, sticky, and without much of a smell. This poop is called meconium and it’s made up of amniotic fluid, mucus, skin cells, and other stuff. After two to four days, your baby should start to produce transitional poop that signifies that she’s beginning to digest normally. This poop is less sticky and light green.
- A breastfed baby’s poop should be yellow or slightly green with a mushy or creamy consistency. It can be runny (almost like diarrhea), and it doesn’t actually smell that bad. A formula-fed baby will have pasty, greenish-brown/yellow/tan poop that’s similar in consistency to peanut butter and smells slightly worse than a breastfed baby’s poop.
- A baby who’s made the transition to solid food should have poop that’s brown to dark brown, thicker than peanut butter, and a stronger smell than a breastfed or formula-fed baby’s poop.
Potentially Problematic Poop
- Black poop is something you should call your pediatrician about to make sure it’s not melena, or digested blood. However, if your baby is taking an iron supplement, dark green to blackish poop is totally normal.
- Seeing chunks of undigested food in your baby’s poop from time to time is normal. But if you see this consistently, consult your pediatrician about whether your baby’s intestines are working properly.
- Poop that is very runny, yellow, green, mostly water, or explosive is diarrhea and can lead to dehydration. Call your doctor if your baby is three months old or younger and has diarrhea in two or more diapers or for more than a day or two.
- Poop that is like hard, little pebbles is a sign of constipation. One or two of these is totally normal, but if there are three or more “pebbles” or you see blood, call your pediatrician.
- If your baby’s poop is slimy or mucus-y, it could be just a sign of a drooly baby who produces a large amount of undigestable saliva. But if it’s present for two or more days or accompanied by other symptoms, call the doctor to rule out infection or allergy.
- Any kind of poop with bright red or blackish blood in it is a reason to call the doctor. The cause could be harmless, but it’s important to rule out other serious possibilities. Poop that just strikes you as abnormal or alarming is also a reason to call the doctor.
Has your baby’s poop ever told you something important about his or her health? Share your story below.