Baby Poop: What is Common and What is Normal?

It comes in colors ranging from tar black to grass green to mustard yellow…it can be watery or peanut buttery or clumpy or mucusy…its smell can vary widely from buttered popcorn to yogurt to a stench most foul. Did you have any idea before you became a parent how fascinating baby poop could be?

In the first few days of life, your baby will pass the dark black, sticky meconium that is formed from what your baby ingested in utero. You should expect one dirty diaper the first day, about two the second, and so on up to 3-5 daily by day 5. By about day 3, your baby’s poops will be a bit greenish, and by day 5 they will start to be more yellowish. Breastfed baby poop is usually mustard yellow and seedy-looking and can be very loose. Formula-fed babies’ poop may be a bit firmer and more tan-colored.

In general, variations in color are nothing to be too concerned about. A bit of a spectrum with an occasional bright green or darker brown poop is normal. Breastfed poops can have little white “seeds” or clumps too. If you see a lot of green poops or if you see white or bloody stool, it might be wise to speak to a pediatrician to check for illness or allergy.

Mucus in stool can be a scary sight too — it can be a normal reaction to a cold or teething, but if you see it frequently talk to your doctor.

What about frequency? First, most frequently stooling babies don’t have diarrhea — they’re just causing you a lot of laundry or trash removal or both! If you’re seeing 12 to 16 smelly loose stools, that might be a cause for concern to bring to a doctor. But loose stools in general are normal especially for breastfed babies.

What about the other direction? You should expect frequent dirty diapers, about 3-5 per day, until your baby is about 6-8 weeks old. At that point some breastfed and formula-fed babies will start to stool less frequently. If they continue to gain weight well and are having plenty of wet diapers (about 6 a day) and their stools are not hard when they do make an appearance, this is not necessarily a problem. But although it is common for babies (especially breastfed) to go a week or even two between stools at this age, you don’t need to dismiss it as “normal” for your child. Sometimes a few simple changes can get your baby stooling daily, which we have to assume is more comfortable!

If you have an infrequent pooper and no cause for medical concern, here are a few things you can try:

  • If breastfeeding, are you offering 10-12 times a day? If not, try that — a little additional feeding may lead to more frequent stools. 
  • Some parents find a little time in a swing or jumper really encourages those poops to make an appearance!
  • A probiotic or prebiotic may help. If you’re breastfeeding, your baby can get some through your milk; if you want to administer one directly you may wish to consult your pediatrician.
  • A small amount of fruit juice may have a laxative effect that’s less harsh than a laxative drug. But if your baby is younger than six months, hold off on the juice unless you get your pediatrician’s okay.
  • Infant massage and leg rotations can help get things moving too.

Welcome to the fascinating, smelly world of baby poop! If you’re ever worried, don’t hesitate to reach out to your local La Leche League group, schedule a consult with a knowledgeable and experienced IBCLC, or talk to your pediatrician or other professional for advice.

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