Baby’s poop: what’s normal and what’s not

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Highlights
  • Learn about newborn pooping patterns—there are lots of changes!
  • Breastfed babies may poop more often than formula fed babies.
  • Learn when baby’s poop is telling you to call the doctor.

As a new parent you might be surprised by how much you think about—and clean up—your baby’s poop. It seems once you’ve figured it out, it changes again, and worry can set in when you don’t know what’s normal. Here's what you need to know about your baby's stool from birth to 4 months.

How often?

After baby passes meconium (dark, tar-like first poop), his pipes are ready for action. During the first month, babies go pretty often. Breastfed babies and babies on 100% whey protein formula that is partially hydrolyzed may usually poop up to 12 times daily—and often it happens after feedings. Babies on intact cow’s milk protein formula usually poop less often. All newborns can have tiny, frequent poops. But, if you notice your newborn isn't going at least once a day, or he’s pooping more often than he's eating, call your doctor.

As time marches on, your baby will poop less often. Formula-fed babies go about once a day, but this may be different for each child. It's not unusual for some breastfed babies to go several days without pooping as long as they are taking in enough breastmilk, having plenty of wet diapers and gaining weight at the right time.

What should my baby’s poop look like?

Breastfed babies have pasty, mustardy stools that are somewhat loose. Formula-fed babies can have poop that is yellow, tan, green or brown. Both breastfed and formula-fed babies that receive a 100% whey protein, partially hydrolyzed formula usually have green or dark green poop. While these earth tones are normal, poop that is white or red is not. Seeing blood, mucous or the color white should send you straight to your doctor. Another red flag? Poop that is becoming more watery.

This doesn’t mean something is seriously wrong, but it could mean your baby has an allergy, intolerance, or infection. It's always best to get it checked out.

Is baby not pooping? 

It's uncommon for babies who have not started eating solids to become constipated (have trouble pooping). In fact, it happens pretty rarely for breastfed babies. Babies who receive a formula that is 100% whey protein, partially hydrolyzed often have soft poops and those that receive a formula with intact cow’s milk protein usually have poops that are firmer throughout.

If you’re formula-feeding and your baby is having hard poops or constipation, talk to your baby’s pediatrician and see if a change in formula may help.

Signs of constipation include:

  • More spitting up
  • Increased fussiness
  • Fewer stools
  • Hard, dry stools
  • Pushing or trying for more than 10 minutes. All babies make a big fuss when going poop (grunting and turning red), but with constipation, it is more than usual and lasts longer. 

 

If your baby is older than one month and you think he is constipated, seek help from your doctor. They might suggest giving him a small amount of apple or prune juice for a short while to help loosen his poop and make it softer. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests 1 ounce for every month of life up to 4 months. 

Once you become an expert on your newborn baby’s pooping patterns, your baby starts eating solids and everything changes—especially poop! 


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