Dirty nappies are not fun, but baby poo colours tell you a lot about your baby’s health and what they are feeling on the inside.
Since babies can’t talk, the best way to find out about the state of their health is through what ends up in their nappies.
The colour of your newborn’s poo will change constantly in the first few weeks. Along with that, your baby’s poo will be different if they drink breast milk or formula.
If you’re a new parent and you want to know why baby poop colours are so important, then keep reading.
Normal baby poop
A newborn baby will usually have their first poo within 24 hours, sometimes also passing a day or two after birth. It may appear as a green poo, or black stool, and will be quite sticky, but there’s no smell associated with it.
The first poo is called meconium. Up until this point, there’s no bacteria in the baby’s intestines which accounts for the lack of smell. But don’t brag too soon. The smells will come as soon as your baby starts feeding and new bacteria are introduced into their gut.
Sometimes babies can start passing meconium while still inside the womb. This can mix with the amniotic fluid and be a health concern for the baby if it is inhaled. This can happen if your baby goes into stress while in the womb. However, everything will be closely monitored by your delivery room team.
After the meconium passes, your baby’s poop should be consistently fairly regular and similar in colour or smell. A baby’s poo colour and consistency will depend on if you breastfeed or not. Formula-fed babies will tend to have stools that are firmer, darker and smellier. Some infant formulas may also make your baby’s poo green. Breastfed baby poo will be more runny but won’t smell as bad.
During the first six weeks of life, a baby’s poo will usually be green-brown. It will also have a firm consistency like peanut butter (if formula-fed) or dijon mustard yellow, with a mushy or creamy consistency (if breastfed). The colour and consistency of the baby’s poo will indicate that the milk is being digested.
Stool colour changes
When you change your baby’s nappy, you may notice there are some colour or consistency changes. It’s good to keep track of changes, as digestion is important for nourishment and growth.
If you find your baby’s poo has become bright green and frothy, it may indicate not enough milk, poor digestion or the presence of antibiotics. Your baby can also get frothy poo if you breastfeed and are regularly swapping your baby from one breast to another, before your baby has drained it.
Similarly, if the stools are slimy or glistening, it may be due to the presence of mucus. This is common with drooling babies or can be a sign of infection. Consult your doctor for medical advice.
Here are some colour indicators you may see:
Dark green poop: Can sometimes be present with formula-fed babies, due to the presence of iron supplement in baby formula. Green baby poop is nothing to worry about.
Dark brown poo: As you introduce solid food into your baby’s diet, their stool will become more brown.
Orange: In-between brown and yellow, which is another variation of stool in healthy babies.
Abnormal baby poo colours
A baby’s stool is a strong indicator of what is going on in their small intestine and if they are digesting food. If there are concerns present, it will often show up in the poo.
If you see any of the following baby poo colours, it is important to take a sample to your doctor.
Black poo: After a newborn has passed the first stool, there should not be any black stool. If your baby suddenly starts passing black stools, this can be a sign of liver disease and therefore they should be promptly seen by a doctor.
Red stool: If you haven’t been feeding your baby solids that include beetroot, or other red or purple foods, then red poop is often a sign of blood present in the stool. This needs to be attended to promptly. If a baby is suffering from constipation and is straining to pass a stool, the baby’s bowel movements may have blood. The cause needs to be ascertained to rule out any serious concerns.
Your baby may be constipated if they are struggling to pass a bowel motion. The stool will be hard, dry and pebble-like. Your baby may feel upset and cry as they are trying to pass the stool. They will generally be cranky due to a sore tummy.
Breastfed babies don’t usually get constipated. However, constipation can happen more commonly in formula-fed babies. Ensure you are using the right amount of formula when making your baby’s bottles.
Your baby doesn’t have to poo every day. Sometimes they may go a few days without any bowel motion. This is not a problem, so long as the stool is soft.
White poo: If a baby is passing white poo, this is abnormal and may also be a sign of a liver issue. Consult your doctor.
Check out our handy baby poo colour chart below
If there are any other changes that are unusual, it’s a good idea to consult your doctor without delay. Also, if after you have started your baby on solids, your baby’s poo is full of undigested food, this can be a sign that their digestive system is struggling and therefore they may not be receiving the nutrients they need.
If a baby is intolerant or allergic to certain food items, it will also affect bowel motions. If your baby is showing signs of severe stomach pain, doubling up, with lots of mucus or consistent sour, explosive diarrhoea, it is important to rule out allergies or intolerances. Common intolerances include dairy, soy, seafood, nuts, eggs and gluten.
Even if you haven’t yet started your baby on solids, but are consuming large amounts of these foods, it will affect your breast milk, which in turn will be affecting your baby. If you are concerned about the nutrition of your baby, consider visiting a nutritionist who specialises in paediatric nutrition.
Poo says a lot
Poo is one of those things we often don’t talk about, but it says a lot about the state of our digestive system and how well we are digesting food. Baby’s poo is the same. Baby poo colours and consistency are important, and learning to observe what’s normal and what’s not is especially helpful to support your baby’s health.
Just remember it’s probably just the first of many surprises your bundle of joy brings you. Keep smiling!
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