Your Babyï¿½s Stool: What it Means
One concern new moms often have is whether their infantï¿½s stool is normal. They might question the frequency of their babyï¿½s bowel movements or wonder what the difference is between bottle feeding and breast feeing and how this impacts their babyï¿½s stool.
Newborn Poop: Whatï¿½s Normal
In the first few weeks of your babyï¿½s life, the color, frequency and consistency of your newborn's poop will change.
The character of your babyï¿½s poo depends on his age, whether he is breast or bottlefed and whether solids have been introduced. As a result, babyï¿½s stool will change on a regular basis during the first year of her life.
When it comes to frequency, there isnï¿½t a magic number. Depending on whether your baby is bottle or breast feed, she can have several bowel movements a day or not a pass a bowel movement for two or three days.
The color of your babyï¿½s stool can be different on a day-to-day basis, ranging from yellow to green, a process that is natural.
As your baby grows, you will get to know what is normal for them.
And donï¿½t worry if your baby grunts or cries when passing a bowel movement. Babies are vocal when they poo because theyï¿½re not used to the feeling of this process and generally isnï¿½t a sign that theyï¿½re in any real distress.
What Does Baby Pass?
In the first couple of days, your baby will pass meconium, a sticky green-black substance made up of bile, mucus and amniotic fluid which builds up her system during pregnancy.
Babies usually start passing meconium 12 hours after birth; this is a sign that the bowel system is healthy and functioning properly. If your baby doesnï¿½t pass meconium within the first 24 hours, it could be a sign of intestinal obstruction and you should contact your physician.
Once the meconium is expelled from the body, expect your babyï¿½s poo to change in color to brown-green and loose and grainy in texture to increasingly yellow with the consistency of peanut butter.
Bottle Feeding and Baby's Stool
Stool patterns of formula-fed babies are different than the stool patterns of breastfed babies. If your baby is bottlefed, his stool will be yellow-brown in color and relatively sold in texture; bottlefed babiesï¿½ stool also has a stronger smell that is similar to adult stool.
Bottlefed babies usually pass stool once daily.
Breast Feeding and Baby's Stool
Normal stool color for a breast fed baby is yellow; breastfed baby's poo is usually loose in grainy in texture; the poo of babies that are breastfed tends to have a sweeter, less pungent smell than the stool of bottlefed babies.
Breastfed babies can have a bowel movement as often as four or more times in a day or even one time every three days.
From Breast to Bottle, from Bottle to Breast
Thinking of changing your babyï¿½s feeding habits but are unsure how itï¿½ll affect babyï¿½s bowel movements?
Itï¿½s important that when making the transition, that it is done slowly over the course of a couple of weeks. This wards off constipation and allows your babyï¿½s digestive system to adapt.
Also, if youï¿½re switching from bottle to breast, this slow transition also helps avoid tender and pain in the breasts for mom.
Babyï¿½s First Solids
Introducing solids into your babyï¿½s diet will have the greatest impact on her bowel movements.
Solid foods change the smell, consistency and color of your babyï¿½s stool.
For example, the color of your babyï¿½s stool will reflect what food sheï¿½s eaten; if your babyï¿½s just had her first peas, expect to see some green in her stool.
Also solids high in fiber like raisins will usually be passed whole until your baby can properly digest them.
Solids make your babyï¿½s stool thicker, darker and (you guessed it) smellier.
Warning Signs: What to Look out for in Your Baby's Poop
There are some things that arenï¿½t normal when it comes to your babyï¿½s bowel movements.
Streaks of blood in baby stool is usually a sign of constipation. Make sure to contact your physician right away if you find blood in your baby's stool.
If your babyï¿½s stool is an unusual green color, they can be consuming too much milk. Contact your doctor to make sure they donï¿½t have a milk allergy. Also, green baby stool is often caused by iron added to formula.
Constipation can be a sign of dehydration; mild dehydration often occurs when introducing your baby to solid foods. Breastfed babies are less likely to be constipated because breast milk has a natural balance of fat and protein which promotes soft stool. The symptoms of constipation include irritability when passing a bowel movement, blood in the stool, and pellets. Contact your doctor. Increasing your babyï¿½s fiber intake can also help. Foods high in fiber include pureed prunes, pears and apricots.
While an occasional loose stool is nothing to fret over, a sudden, increased frequency of bowel movements and watery, looser stool are signs of diarrhea. Diarrhea can be a sign of infection or a milk allergy. Contact your doctor if you suspect your baby has diarrhea. Limit sweetened foods like undiluted fruit juices; feeding your baby yogurt containing live cultures (lactobacillus) can also help ward off infant constipation.
Expecting a new baby? Chat with other expectant moms.
Join our baby forum to talk to other moms about all of your baby care concerns.