First-time parents may wonder how often their newborn should poop and what a normal newborn poop would look like. A baby’s health can be best indicated by a baby’s bowel movement, but new parents may not know what to expect. For this reason, new parents become unsure and apprehensive during their newborn's first few weeks of life.
Below are some of the things you need to know about your newborn's poop:
- Number of Bowel Movements - It is normal for a newborn to have 8-10 bowel movements a day. Some newborns even poop right after being fed, while some may poop once or twice a week.
- Abdominal Distension - After a large feeding, a newborn's belly normally sticks out. However, your baby's abdomen should be soft between feedings. Consult your child's pediatrician if your baby hasn't had a bowel movement for days and if your child has a hard and swollen tummy. The most common causes of abdominal distention in newborns are constipation or gas, although other serious intestinal problems could also be the cause.
- Consistency of Poop - Newborn poop has a thick consistency. The first poop of your newborn is called meconium, which is passed in the first few days after birth. The meconium consists of substances that are ingested by the baby while still in the womb. If your newborn starts feeding, meconium can be quickly expelled through regular bowel movements.
- Color Variation of Poop - The color of your newborn's poop may vary. Initially, newborn poop is thick and dark-colored (meconium). Once your baby starts to have regular bowel movements, meconium can be expelled and replaced by a yellowish poop.
In the first few weeks of your baby’s life, a lot of messy diapers can be expected. Some information about the baby’s health and nutrition can be obtained just by observing the frequency and appearance of your baby's poop.
How much poop is normal?
You can expect that the number of bowel movements will significantly increase (5-10 diapers a day) once your baby nears the 1-week-old mark. Don't worry if your baby poops right after every meal since your baby's stomach is still small. As your baby gets closer to 1 month old, the number of diaper changes tends to reduce.
Not all babies are the same--some may poop several times a day, while others may poop once or twice a week. Don't worry if your baby only poops once a week, he or she is not constipated unless the stools are very dry or hard. Breastfed babies usually have a seedy yellow poop, while babies who are formula-fed tend to have thicker and darker poop. Your baby might be constipated if he or she is passing hard stools. It may also indicate that your baby is not getting enough milk.
Types of Baby Poop
Normally, a baby's poop depends on the feeding method used and age of the baby.
1. Newborn Baby Poop
During the first few days after birth, your baby's poop usually appears tarry and sticky with a greenish-black color. This poop is called meconium, which has a motor oil consistency. Meconium is made up of the following substances:
- Amniotic fluid
- Intestinal epithelial cells
- Other substances ingested in the womb
After a few days, your newborn's poop will become lighter and less sticky than meconium.
2. Breastfed Baby Poop
A breastfed baby normally excretes poop with mustard yellow, brown, or green in color. Most parents tend to confuse the consistency of a breastfed baby's poop to diarrhea because of its seedy and runny appearance. A pasty, seedy, or slightly runny poop in breastfed babies is considered normal. A breastfed baby's poop also tends to have a sweet odor.
3. Formula-Fed Baby Poop
Healthy babies who are formula-fed usually have a pasty poop similar to that of a peanut butter. The color of their poop ranges from yellowish to brown. They also pass bigger and strong-smelling poop than babies who are breastfed. Since milk formula cannot be completely digested by babies, formula-fed infants tend to have a thicker consistency of their poop.
4. Iron-Fortified Poop
Babies who are taking iron supplements are expected to have dark green to black-colored poop. However, passing dark-colored or black poop is a cause for concern when your child does not take any iron supplements. Inform your doctor if you notice any irregularity in your child's poop.
Signs to Look Out For
- Diarrhea - Your newborn might have diarrhea if large amounts of runny or watery poop come out in bursts during bowel movements. Diarrhea may be a sign of an infection, food sensitivity, or a drug side effect. Consult your doctor if your child's diarrhea persists.
- Constipation - Your child might be constipated if you notice dry and hard poop in your baby's diaper. Constipation in babies can be due to dehydration, fever, reaction to certain medications, and changes in the diet. Constipation can be relieved by keeping your baby hydrated through regular feedings.
- Green-Colored Poop - Passing green poop may indicate too much lactose intake, drug reaction, a stomach bug, or food allergy. Seek immediate medical attention if this symptom persists for more than one day.
- Very Pale Poop - This can be a sign of jaundice in your child. Jaundice is a quite common condition in newborns. It causes your baby to develop a yellowish discoloration of the skin and whites of the eyes. Jaundice often clears up after two weeks. Speak with your doctor if your baby has jaundice.
- Blood in Poop - One of the most common causes of blood in a baby's poop is a slight anal tear due to constipation. Visit your child's pediatrician to rule out other serious conditions.
The consistency of newborn poop may also change if there is a switch from breastfeeding to formula feeding. When babies start to consume solid food, the consistency, color, and thickness of their poop will also change. Their poop usually becomes darker and smellier after consuming solid foods.
When to Call a Pediatrician
Seek help from your pediatrician if your baby consistently passes dry and hard stools, sudden diarrhea, or passing bloody, black, or very pale poop.