It’s easy to be overwhelmed if you’re a new parent. You can't know everything about raising a tiny human, no matter how much you prepare during your nine months of pregnancy. You’re probably bursting with questions about your baby and this includes the frequently-asked question on our Facebook group Smart Parenting (SP) Village: “Is my baby’s poop normal?"
Most new parents wouldn’t know what to expect and would want to know how often their baby poops and what it should look like. One worried mom on our SP Village added, “My baby is 6 weeks old and exclusively breastfed. He hasn't pooped in a week. Is this normal?”
Color and frequency vary depending on whether your baby is breastfed or formula fed. Breast milk is more quickly absorbed and moves faster through the digestive system. Formula milk, on the other hand, may take a little longer.
Breastfed newborns (birth to six weeks) often poop after every feeding (roughly six to 10 times a day), according to BabyCenter. After six weeks, your baby’s poop frequency will change and have fewer bowel movements. But there is no number set in stone. Susan Condon, a lactation consultant, says there is no need to be alarmed if your baby poops once a week. “He’s not constipated unless his stools are hard and dry,” she writes in BabyCenter.
During the meconium phase or the first few days after birth, your baby’s poop may be dark green to black in color with a thick and sticky consistency. Dr. Ella Salvador, a pediatrician, explains that your baby’s first poop has all the stuff he collected while in utero like old blood cells and skin cells, hence its odd appearance.
At 2 to 4 days old, his poop will gradually become lighter in color — like an army green shade — and become less sticky. This is called a transitional stool and is a sign that he has started digesting breast or formula milk and a sign his intestinal tract is functioning normally.
At six weeks, your baby may produce loose, unformed stools with a “pea soup consistency and cottage cheese-like curds,” according to Condon. This means he’s getting a good balance of foremilk and hindmilk.
At 6 to 8 months, when an exclusively breastfed baby begins to eat solids, his stools will get firmer and have a stronger odor.
Formula-fed newborns pass fewer stools, but it is often larger and has a strong, unpleasant smell, according to Parents. At 6 weeks old, you can expect at least one to four bowel movements a day.
If you're worried about your baby, it doesn't hurt to consult with a pediatrician. Dra. Faith Buenaventura-Alcazaren, a pediatrician who holds clinic in Marikina and Antipolo, shares that one week without pooping may be considered normal, but anything beyond that merits a consultation. "Just to see if there are other signs of obstruction," she shares. "Check also for history of delayed passage of meconium at birth. These are all significant if baby needs to be checked for Hirschsprung's disease (a condition that affects the large instestine and causes problems with passing stool)."
After the first month, your baby may poop only once a day, according to Healthline. Don’t panic if your formula-fed baby poops every three or four days. This is still normal, says Parents. After starting solids at 6 to 8 months old, babies may poop once to twice a day.
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What poop looks like for formula-fed babies
After the meconium phase, formula-fed babies will pass firmer stool with a consistency like peanut butter. If it is much harder than that, it might be a sign of constipation and you should consult your pediatrician, says BabyCenter.
After introducing solid food at 6 months, your baby’s poop might have varied colors. This applies to both breastfed and formula-fed babies. Orange, yellow, green or brown-colored stools can all be normal.
Switching from breast milk to formula milk may also affect your baby’s poo. It might become darker and more paste-like, according to BabyCentre UK. BabyCentre advises to gradually do the switch to give your baby’s digestive system time to adapt and to avoid constipation.
At 9 months to a 1 year old, your baby will start eating table food, and this will also affect his poop. His stool will start to be more consistent in color (brown) and will look similar to an older child or adult’s stool.
“It’s not often how a baby moves his bowels, but how hard the stool is once it’s passed that’s a cause for concern,” explains pediatrician Susan Sorensen in her column for BabyCenter.
Poop that's very runny, more frequent than usual, or explosive and spurts out of your baby's bottom is a sign of diarrhea. “If your baby is unhappy, not feeding well or appears sick, or if there has been any other change in his usual behavior and mood, then he may have a gut infection and diarrhea,” says pediatrician Dr. Jack Newman in a column for The Bump.
Signs of constipation in your baby are firm, pebble-like stools. Your baby may also be experiencing constipation if he appears uncomfortable and has a persistently swollen abdomen.
Black, white, or red-colored poop may also be a cause for concern. White poop could mean that your baby’s liver isn’t producing enough bile, which means the food he eats doesn’t get digested enough. Black and red poop can indicate blood. Black is a sign of digested blood in the gastrointestinal tract. Bright red can mean fresh blood that’s coming from the colon or rectum. For all these cases, it is best to consult with a pediatrician right away.
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This article was updated on February 12, 2019 at 6:22 p.m.