Never in my life have I thought about, talked about, or studied poop more than once my son was born. Most of this discussion will focus on the bowel movements of a breastfed baby so remember that diapers of a breastfed baby can vary compared to a formula fed baby. Many new parents become concerned when they see their child’s diapers and the colors of poop vary. It is just one of the many things that we are unsure about and have never experienced. Most of the time a slight change in color or consistency is normal and not concerning, just like in an adult, however there are a few things that parents should be making note of.
In the first 5 days after birth, your child’s poop is going to change in color from black to yellow. Baby’s first poop is black and sticky. This is called meconium and it is odorless because until the intestines contain bacteria there is nothing to make poop stinky. That doesn’t last long because bacteria starts to build with the first feeding. Some babies will pass meconium while still in the uterus, usually as a result of an infection or a difficult delivery. This is dangerous because the baby can aspirate the meconium and get a lung disease. Babies should have their first bowel movement sometime in the first 24 hours. If it takes longer than this, doctors may start to look for problems such as intestinal blockages, an underdeveloped anus, or stool that is stuck, called a meconium plug.
By day 3 or 4 poop should turn a greenish color. Then by day 5 it should be yellow. Breastfed babies usually have bowel movements that are watery with little whitish seedy-looking bits. It is often described as mustard. Formula-fed babies may have less watery stool, usually pasty in consistency and yellow or tan in color. Many parents get concerned if they see the stool is green rather than yellow but all earth tones are fine, from yellow to green to brown.
Parents should make note of 3 color changes- red, white and bright green.
Red: While blood in a baby’s stool may simply be the result from mom’s nipples bleeding, it’s always wise to have a doctor check the baby out. Blood can be an indicator of illness, injury or allergies.
White: Poop the color of clay can be a sign of serious liver disease
Green: The occasional green poop is not unusual in the breastfed baby but consistent green bowel movements are not normal for a breastfed baby. Most of the time, green poop is not a cause for serious concern. It can indicate an imbalance of foremilk/hindmilk and mom may need to keep baby on one side longer for feedings. More serious, and fairly common, is bright green poop that is due to a sensitivity to something in the mother’s diet, most often dairy products. Viral infections/colds can create mucusy green poop. Teething, eating large amounts of green foods and starting solids are also common causes.
Babies should have 6-8 wet diapers, ideally half wet and half bowel movements. After the first 1-2 days you should not notice any orange or red urine.
Baby should not go more than 24 hours without a wet diaper.
As a parent you will have many dinner conversations regarding poop. When was the last BM? Was it big? Was it solid? And you will discuss the change as baby moves to solid foods and bowel movements get more solid and more stinky. You will undoubtedly get poop on you at some point. Have to use ninja maneuvers to get your child out of their onesie after an explosion. But you will figure it out and before you know it you will have superparent powers and be able to analyze them, clean them, change them, and discard that diaper before that little hand even tries to sneak down to grab a fist full.