Your baby's poop will change a lot in the first few days, weeks and months of their life. For new parents, the colour and consistency, texture and smell of your baby's poop can sometimes be concerning, and it can be hard to know what to recognise as ‘normal’. The good news is that usually, the answer is yes, it's completely normal.
If you're still worried about the colour of your baby’s nappy or not sure how often your little one should be needing a change, here’s everything you need to know about your baby’s poop...
In this article:
Why is my baby’s poo green?
As a newborn, your baby’s first few nappies will often be a greenish-black colour and tar-like in texture. Despite seeming alarming, this is very normal and is medically referred to as meconium.
Unlike your baby’s later poos, this doesn’t contain any breast milk or formula, just the materials she ingested in the uterus, including amniotic fluid, mucus and skin cells.
Despite the unusual colour, these poos won’t smell but will cling to your baby’s skin, so it’s often a good idea to use a thin coat of Vaseline to make nappy changing less challenging.
Between days two to four, you’ll notice her poo getting less sticky and more of an army green colour.
Again, this isn’t anything to worry about and just means she’s started to digest her breastmilk or formula.
According to Dr Yiannis Ioannou, Consultant Paediatrician at The Portland Hospital, part of HCA Healthcare UK, 'many babies occasionally have green poo, and it is usually nothing to be concerned about.
'A newborn baby passes dark stools known as meconium. One of the most common times for a baby to have green poo is once meconium transitions to regular baby stool. As the stool goes from black to yellow, there are often some dark green stools for a day or two.'
If you're concerned that the green poop could be caused by something else, here are some other possible causes of green poop to consider:
- Foremilk Hindmilk Imbalance - your breast milk changes over time starting with low-fat and high-sugar “foremilk" and later high-fat, high-calorie “hindmilk”. Too much foremilk can cause green or frothy poo.
- Illness - if it seems more like diarrhea, it could be that your tot has a bit of a tummy bug and it's worth checking with your GP.
- Food intolerance - some babies can react to cow's milk if they're on formula milk or they can even react to something mum has eaten. If they are suffering from a reaction, you may see that they also develop eczema and are generally irritable after feeding as well as potentially having green poop.
- Green foods - if mum is eating a lot of leafy greens, this could also get into baby's system and cause green coloured poop.
- Iron supplements - green poop can also be caused by iron supplements, either taken by mum or baby.
- Insufficient milk intake - if you notice they aren't needing to be changed very often and they aren't gaining weight, they may not be getting the milk they need. Check in with your GP or health visitor to check your baby is getting enough milk when feeding.
- Jaundice - treatment for jaundice can sometimes cause green poop.
- Teething babies - an increased swallowing of saliva can sometimes cause green poop.
The meaning behind your baby's poo colour
Dr Yiannis Ioannou says there are a number of common colours that baby poo can be.
- Black: In newborns younger than 1 week old, black is a healthy colour and is referred to as meconium. However, if it persists beyond this time, it could indicate a health problem. The colour should gradually change from black to dark green, then yellow.
- Yellow: Yellow and mustard is a common and normal colour of poo from breastfed babies.
- Brown or orange: This is a normal colour of poo from a formula-fed baby. When a baby drinks formula, their poo tends to light brown or orange. It may also be slightly darker and solid compared with the poo of a breastfed baby.
When to see a doctor
'If your baby’s poo is any other colour than an ‘earthy’ tone, it is worth seeking medical advice from a GP or paediatrician.' Says Dr Yiannis.
Pale baby poo
If you notice your baby’s poo to be a lot paler than it normally would be, talk to your GP or health visitor immediately.
Pale white, chalky or grey stools are often a sign of liver disease, so these are not nappies to ignore.
'Although uncommon, white, or very pale poo could indicate a serious medical problem, known as biliary atresia. Jaundice is a common condition in newborns, particularly in the first two weeks of life. Anyone who suspects that their baby still has jaundice after 14 days should check the colour of their poo as it could indicate an underlying problem. All babies with jaundice beyond 14 days should be checked by a doctor. If your baby has white or pale stools, you should contact your GP or paediatrician immediately.' Dr Yiannis warns.
Bright green baby poo
If your baby’s poo becomes bright green and frothy at any point, this is usually a sign that things aren’t quite right.
Normally, this means that she’s not getting enough calorie-laden, high-fat hindmilk.
This could be because you’re not feeding for long enough on each breast, so try to start feeding on the breast you ended your last feed on.
However, bright green poo can also mean your baby is sensitive to something you’ve taken, such as antibiotics, so it’s a good idea to check with your GP if you have any concerns.
'Green poo can be normal although may also indicate a food allergy, especially if very loose and contains mucus, so it is best to seek medical advice if it lasts for longer than a couple of weeks.' Says Dr Yiannis
Mum Sam Gowland suggests that green poo might also be a sign of tongue-tie, in her experience. "Green poop indicates they aren't getting the fat from breast milk, so only getting the watery milk at the beginning, have a tongue tie check from your health visitor," she says.
Slimy baby poo
If your baby’s poo is green with slimy, glistening streaks, this normally means there is mucus in the poo.
This is quite common in babies that drool a lot, but can also be a tell-tale sign of infection, so if this fills your baby’s nappy for a couple of days, or appears with other symptoms, call your doctor.
Blood in my baby's poo
Although it might not be serious, it’s always a good idea to call your doctor if you notice blood in your baby’s poo as it might be a sign of an allergy or infection.
'If a baby’s poo is a red tone, this could indicate it contains some blood. The baby could have a health problem, or they may have simply swallowed a small amount of blood. They could have swallowed blood if they are breastfed and their mother’s nipples are cracked and bleeding. Alongside this, it could be that the baby’s bottom is bleeding or sore. Babies with milk protein allergy can sometimes have flecks of blood in the poo and so speak with your paediatrician if this is the case,' says Dr Yiannis.
If there are specs of black blood, it often means the blood has been digested – if you’ve got sore, cracked nipples, this could be why.
Your baby’s normal, healthy poos will often be mushy and creamy, so it’s important to recognise the signs of diarrhoea.
These nappies will be runnier and waterier than normal and will often explode out of the nappy completely.
Often a sign of infection, if your baby is younger than three months, or you change more than two or three diarrhoea filled nappies, it’s a good idea to contact your doctor as this may lead to dehydration.
After she reaches six weeks old, it’s normal for your baby not to pass a stool for seven to ten days.
Breastfed babies rarely get constipated, and it’s normal for babies to strain or even cry when they’re doing a poo, but if your baby seems uncomfortable, it’s worth getting in touch with a health professional.
How often should my baby poo?
This really depends, but on average you can expect to see four poos a day during your baby’s first week.
This will often slow down to two a day by the time your baby turns one.
If you’re breastfeeding your baby, for the first few weeks, you may see a yellowish stool after every feed.
Newborn formula-fed babies can also poo up to five times a day at first, but after a few months, this can drop down to as little as once a day.
Mum Ann Dowlan says: "There is less wastage from breastfed babies so once they've cleared out the meconium things tend to start to settle down in the poop department. If he's having 6-8 heavy wet nappies a day then you're probably okay."
Sometimes your baby's poo output might fluctuate, but mum Tiffany Fitzpatrick says from her experience that if babies are "themselves" they're usually OK. "They say if they’re five within themselves then you shouldn’t worry. But if you are still worried to talk to your health visitor. They can ask questions or come see you and baby," she says.
My newborn baby girl has white discharge in her nappy – is this ok?
A white discharge in your baby’s nappy a few days after birth is perfectly normal and is triggered when hormones cross from the placenta into your baby.
These hormones can cause a discharge, or mini-period, but will soon disappear from her system.
What does normal baby poo look like?
If you have chosen to breastfeed your baby, a normal, healthy poo will be a yellow/green colour and be mushy or creamy in texture.
Experts often refer to the shade as Dijon Mustard, and advise that it is perfectly normal to spot seed-like flecks – these are nothing to worry about.
If you’re feeding your baby formula, a normal, healthy poo will be a peanut butter brown colour and a little firmer than that of breastfed babies.
If you’re swapping between the two, you might also notice formula-fed poos will be more pungent than breastfed poos.
Dr Yiannis says that all babies are different, so there is no ‘normal’.
'Age, diet, and health are the main reasons for changes in babies’ stool colour. Newborn babies’ poo is almost black, while older babies tend to have yellow or brown poo.
'Breastfed and formula-fed babies frequently produce yellow or mustard-coloured stools, often with a seedy consistency too. Often formula-fed babies have poos which are slightly more solid than the stools of breastfed babies.'
'Occasionally, you may notice that your baby’s poo looks like it has some mucus in it. This is usually completely normal. But the presence of mucus can also signify that your baby is fighting off an infection. If it persists, it’s best to visit your GP or paediatrician. Essentially, it doesn't matter how regular your baby is, as long as the poo is soft and they're having no difficulties. Any earth-tone shade of poo, from brown to yellow to green, is usually normal.'
When weaning your baby, stools may become more solid in general. It will become more similar to adult poo – thicker, usually darker in colour and smellier too.
Your baby will often become constipated when she is first introduced to solid foods. She may appear uncomfortable and pass a hard, pebble-like stool.
This isn’t always something to worry about. You can help relieve your baby's constipation with diluted fruit juice - fruits such as apples, pears and prunes contain sorbitol which acts as a natural laxative. But, if you notice three or more nappies like this, be sure to contact your doctor.
Constipation is best avoided by giving your baby lots of fruit and vegetables, and plenty of drinks of water. A tummy massage can also help to relieve any discomfort.
You're very likely to notice a change in the frequency of bowel movements when weaning in that your baby should poop less often (yay!)
Once you start weaning it's not just green poo that can cause concern. Seeing unusual colours in your baby’s poo is often a sign of undigested food (for example lumps of red can sometimes be beetroot). Be prepared for orange poo after carrots and dark blue after blueberries!
The odd poo with lumps of food in is nothing to worry about, but if you notice this happening more frequently and are worried about your baby’s digestion, it’s worth booking an appointment with your GP.