Baby Poop Decoder: Guide to Baby Stools

by DP Nguyen

in Babies, Baby Health

Baby Poop Decoder: Guide to Baby Stools

Baby poop is gross, but someone’s gonna wipe that baby’s bottom. He or she just isn’t old enough to grasp the meaning of bladder control and wipe before you flush. So mom and dad, you have to step up and do the job for baby until he or she is ready to potty train.

If you’re a first-time parent, you may be surprised to see that baby poop doesn’t always look the same. Every time you change your sweetie’s diaper, your baby’s stool may be a different color, and even a different consistency. With so many shades and consistencies, you might be wondering what’s normal and what should make you worry.

Eww – should I call the pediatrician? Or is this color normal?

Here’s my “Baby Poop Decoder” to help you on your way. You’ll quickly find out what’s perfectly normal, and what should concern you.

Baby Poop Decoder – Guide to Baby Stool Colors

Greenish-Black and Sticky Poop (Meconium)

In the first few days after birth, your baby will pass a greenish-black, tarry, and sticky goop-like substance. This is called “meconium,” or baby’s first poop. Meconium is made of amniotic fluid, mucus, skin cells, and anything else that your baby digested while in the womb. It may resemble motor oil or tar, and it may smell like licorice – but there shouldn’t be much of an odor. Your baby will pass meconium within the first 24 to 48 hours after birth.

If you’re bottle-feeding, it may take longer before your baby to have his or her first poop. Breast milk acts as a natural laxative, so breast-fed babies typically pass meconium sooner. If your newborn doesn’t poop within the first couple of days after birth, be sure to call your doctor.

Army Green and Less Sticky (Transitional Baby Stool)

Between 2 to 4 days old, your baby’s poop will get lighter in color, and may resemble an army green, and it will become less sticky. This is considered “transitional” baby stool, and it’s a positive sign that his or her intestinal tract is working and that he or she is starting to digest breast milk or formula.

Yellow, Creamy Poop – Looks like Cottage Cheese  (Breastfed Babies)

If you are breastfeeding exclusively – meaning that you are not using any formula, your baby’s poop will become yellow and have a creamy or mushy consistency. It may look like you’ve mixed cottage cheese with mustard, and there are seedy specks in it. The baby poop may smell mild, and maybe even slightly sweet.

Sometimes, your baby’s poop may turn a green hue, and if your baby does not have any other symptoms – such as looking uncomfortable – you shouldn’t worry. This change in color may be caused by something that you (mom) ate, and it passed to your baby through breast milk.

If you’ve been breastfeeding and your baby’s poop becomes bright green and frothy, and looks like algae, this is a sign that your baby is getting too much foremilk and not enough hindmilk. It may also be a sign that you aren’t feeding enough on each breast. To fix this problem, you should start nursing on the breast you ended on last feeding.

Tan and Thick Poo (Formula Fed Babies)

Babies who are fed formula will pass a pasty, tan, or peanut butter-looking poop. It is typically smellier, with a strong iron-like odor, than the poop of babies who are exclusively breastfed. This stinky baby poop is normal. You should only be concerned if the stool becomes watery or hard in consistency.

Dark Green or Black Poop (Too Much Iron)

If your baby has been taking an iron supplement, his or her poop may turn dark green or black. This shouldn’t happen that often, but it’s completely normal and shouldn’t cause you to worry. You should only worry if your baby’s poop looks blackish and you aren’t giving him extra iron. You should call your doctor, if this is the case.

Brown, Firm, and Smelly (Solid Food Poop)

When you start to introduce solid foods to your baby’s diet, the color and consistency of your baby’s poop will change every day, depending on what you’re feeding him or her. For example, feeding your baby new fruit may cause the stools to become looser, less firm. When you give your baby dairy products, meat, or egg products, this typically produces the smelliest baby poops.

Solid food baby stools are typically dark brown and thicker than peanut butter but mushy. It is definitely smellier than any other baby poop before.

Baby Poop with Chunks of Food 

Sometimes, you will notice identifiable chunks of food in your baby’s poop. Other times, your baby’s stool will be tinged with a rainbow of colors – such as red, orange, or dark blue. This shouldn’t cause you to worry. This type of baby poop only suggests that the foods that your little one ate traveled quickly through the intestines that didn’t have time to completely breakdown.

You should only worry if your baby’s poop constantly has undigested food in it. Sometimes is OK.

Loose and Watery Stools (Sign of Diarrhea)

Uh-oh. If your baby has a watery or loose stools, this can be a sign of diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration, and may be a sign of an infection or virus. Diarrhea in babies is typically made up of more water than solids. It can be yellow, green, or brown in color, and it may even seep out of the diaper.

To prevent dehydration, you should give your baby lots of fluids – whether this is formula, water, or breast milk. Call your doctor if your baby has at least two diarrhea-filled diapers, and if the diarrhea lasts for more than a day. (Do not give your baby anti-diarrhea medicine unless your doctor has given you the OK.)

Dry, Brown, and Hard Poop (Constipation)

If your baby’s poop is brown, dry, and hard in consistency, you have a constipated baby on your hands. The stool may look like little pebbles. Your baby may look uncomfortable when pooping, and sometimes, his or her poop may be tinged with blood.

Constipation is more common in bottle-fed babies, though it can also happen in any baby that’s being introduced to solid foods. Call your doctor about suggestions on how to ease your baby’s constipation. He or she may recommend offering baby water, pear juice, or prune juice to help get things back on track.

When Should You Worry about Baby Poop?

As a rule of thumb, if you notice anything completely out of the ordinary, you should call your baby’s doctor. There are a few poop consistencies that you may want to watch out for. They are rare, but they signal a serious problem.

  • Baby poop that is thick black, similar to meconium’s color, but it’s firmer and less sticky. This poop is made of digested blood, and it may suggest a serious health problem.
  • Red-streaked bloody stool may indicate that your baby has a severe intestinal problem.
  • Pale, chalky white poop may be a sign that your baby has liver or gallbladder failure.

Call your doctor right away if you notice any of the above three stool types.

To see photos of baby poop, see Similac’s diaper decoder.

About

DP Nguyen is founder and editor of Hip Chick's Guide to PMS, Pregnancy and Babies. She’s an expert pregnancy and women’s health blogger. She is NOT a medical doctor and does NOT offer medical advice. Connect with her on Google+, Twitter and Facebook.

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