The first few days after birth are often daunting. Even months after, new moms are adjusting to life after pregnancy. For sure, there are plenty of surprises, but perhaps none are more surprising than those diaper changes. The colors, smells and textures can be wildly different, and, at times, even cause for concern. With experience, parents can often tell if their baby is in good health from what they find during diaper changes. Find out the different baby poop colours you can expect and what they mean about the health of your child.
Getting Started with Baby Poop Colours
Your newborn’s digestive system is constantly changing, and whatever comes out depends on what your baby is consuming1. There are many normal baby poop colours such as yellow, brown and green, but there are also other colours that may indicate health problems such as black, bloody, or white poop1.
Black: Baby’s First Bowel Movement
Your baby’s very first bowel movement should come out within the first 24 hours1. This stool is called meconium and is often black like tar or it may be a dark green colour2. If you see this baby poop colour, stay calm and know that it is normal.
Meconium usually has no smell as it is a mixture of bile, cells, mucus and amniotic fluids1. Should your baby delay their first bowel movement, and it comes out after more than 24 hours, this may be a sign of possible medical problems1.
Brown or Yellow-Brown: A Changing Diet
Days after birth, once the meconium is expelled, your tiny tot will have sticky soft dark green or brown poop1.
As your baby’s diet changes, so too will their baby poop colour. Around a week after birth, stool becomes yellow or yellow green, sometimes with a sweet smell1. This may continue until the colour becomes yellow-brown to dark yellow or dark brown1. Once your baby begins to eat solid food at 6 months, the baby poop colour becomes dark brown or brown-yellow1.
Colours can also vary depending on what your baby’s solid food diet from 6 months onwards. For example, baby poop may turn red if beet is on the menu, or green if there is spinach3. But having solid foods usually means thick and firm or soft and mushy poop, and in all instances, they are smelly1.
Black, White or Bloody: Call the Doctor
If the baby poop colour remains black days after birth, or should it be red or bloody, white, unusually watery, or consistently hard, it’s best to consult your baby’s doctor2.
Intestinal tract infection may be the reason behind black bowel movements3. Thick, black stool or melaena may also be caused by internal bleeding in the stomach and intestines4.
Baby poop colour that is continuously pale, on the other hand, may be a sign of problems with your baby’s liver while white poop may be associated with gallbladder problems3.
It is also best to watch against blood in the stool mixed with mucus, as this may result from a serious condition called intussusception4.
Frequency of Poop
At first, moms may have difficulty tracking when to expect that diaper change. However, as the months progress, your baby’s digestive system will develop a pattern and the frequency of bowel movements is more likely to become predictable3. Familiarising yourself with your child’s bowel movements is necessary so you’ll know when to see a doctor.
Initially, babies may poop around six to ten times a day3. As the months pass, the number of bowel movements often decreases until it reaches a point that they may not pass stool for several days at a time3.
For concerned moms, note that baby bowel movement frequency after six weeks has a wide range. It is normal for movements to occur as frequently as 3-5 times a day or as infrequently as once every 7-10 days3. What is important to consider is if bowel movements are less or more frequent than what is considered normal for your baby2.
Constipation may cause your newborn to cry as they have difficulty passing the stool. And this may require guidance from your pediatrician on how to deal with your baby’s constipation3. On the other extreme, diarrhea or loose bowel movement several times a day for more than a day is also a cause for concern. This may lead to dehydration and loss of essential nutrients3.
Knowing what baby poop colour means, why these colours happen, and when to go to the pediatrician are key to understanding your little one’s digestion. This goes a long way in ensuring your child is healthy and happy as they grow up.
Download the Enfamama A+ Club App today to find out more on how to keep track of the little one’s poop using the Poop Tracker Tool! It’s designed to help parents keep track of their child's digestive health and includes helpful tips based on their input to the app.
Dr. Raymond Choy Wai Mun
MBChB (UK), Aviation Medicine (Singapore)
- Baby Poop Guide (2014) Retrieved October 16, 2020 from https://www.parents.com/baby/diapers/dirty/baby-poop-guide/
- Infant and toddler health (2020) Retrieved October 16, 2020 from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddler-health/expert-answers/baby-poop/faq-20057971
- Baby Poop: What’s Normal & What’s Not (2019) Retrieved October 16, 2020 from https://parenting.firstcry.com/articles/baby-poop-guide-to-whats-normal-whats-not/
- Decoding Your Baby’s Poo (n.d.) Retrieved October 16, 2020 from https://thenewageparents.com/your-babys-poo/
- Baby’s Poop and Pee (n.d.) Retrieved October 16, 2020 from https://babybonus.msf.gov.sg/parentingresources/web/Newborn/NewbornWell-Being/NewbornDaily_Care/Newborn_Poos_Wees?_afrLoop=43827168308683545&_afrWindowMode=0&_afrWindowId=null#%40%3F_afrWindowId%3Dnull%26_afrLoop%3D43827168308683545%26_afrWindowMode%3D0%26_adf.ctrl-state%3D72spv489e_4