Baby poo – here’s what’s normal and what’s not

Posted on December 10th, 2018

Do you worry when your baby’s stools change colour? Could the milk be causing a problem? Here’s how to tell whether or not your baby’s digestion is on track.

While your baby doesn’t come with an instruction manual, she will leave clues in her nappy as to the state of her health. Your baby’s diaper contains a wealth of information, which is why it’s no wonder so many new moms find themselves discussing the colour, consistency and amount of their baby’s poop with their friends (after swearing that they’d never be one of those moms before they had kids).

ALSO SEE: Baby constipation – what is normal and when to be worried

Here’s how to decode your baby’s nappy

How much poop is normal?

Breastmilk tends to be absorbed more completely than other milks. Sometimes there is so little residue that needs to be expelled, that a baby may not have a bowel movement for days. On the other hand, many breastfed babies pass a mustardy stool with each feed, while formula-fed babies tend to have darker stools.
“It’s normal for a breastfed baby to have seven stools a day, or one stool every seven days.” says registered professional nurse and midwife, Pippa Hime.

ALSO SEE: 7 ways to relieve baby constipation

Should it be this colour?

“Baby’s first poo is called meconium. It’s a thick black or dark green sticky stool that is passed in the first few days,” explains Pippa. “This stool is made up of ingested materials in utero.”
The colour of your baby’s stool will change over the next few days as the mom’s milk transitions from colostrum to mature milk. “The colour of your baby’s stool will then change from dark brown green to a bright yellow orange explosive colour,” adds Pippa.

As a stool moves through the intestines it picks up various digestive juices, bile, bacteria and other chemicals, which will affect the stool’s colour and odour. In normal infants, stools change colour as baby’s diet changes, the digestive tract matures, and it is populated by new, normal bacteria. It’s rare that colour changes signal a digestive problem. Usually colour changes just mean that there is more or less of the yellow, green, brown or orange pigments that are picked up along the way.

Pippa says it’s normal for a baby’s stool to appear like a small yellow paint bomb has exploded in her nappy. “It can appear like loose curd with almost a ‘bird seed’ texture.”

When to worry

  • If your baby’s stools stay chalky white, there may be no bile from the liver to digest the food.
  • If the stool is tarry black, there may be blood in the digestive tract that has darkened as it’s travelled through the intestines.
  • If there is bright red blood in the stools, it means that there has been some blood expressed very close to the anus.
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About Pippa Hime

Pippa is a Registered Professional Nurse and trained as a Registered Midwife at Chris Hani Baragwanth Hospital. She has extensive experience in all things baby related with a special interest in preparing couples for the exciting journey of parenthood as well as supporting them in the weeks that follow the birth. She and her husband Richard are the proud parents of Becca age 6 and Tom age 4. Pippa has a comprehensive private clinic service that includes Childbirth Education classes, a Well Baby Clinic including Immunization as well as Post Natal and Lactation support. With over 5 years of running a private clinic facility and raising 2 children Pippa comes with a wealth of knowledge and first-hand experience of parenthood.