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Baby

      Baby poo colour, smell, textures, and frequency: What’s normal?

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      Baby poo colour, smell, textures, and frequency: What’s normal?

      Find out more about your baby’s poo, including the meaning of different baby poo colours, smells, and textures. Plus, download our baby poo chart.

      When you become a parent, baby poo suddenly becomes something you talk about a lot and for good reason. On average, parents will change almost 2,000 nappies a year and the contents of your baby’s nappy can give you a lot of information about their health and wellbeing (1) (2). Baby poo can come in a whole spectrum of colours, textures, and smells. Some of these are normal and others may be a cause for concern, so, getting to know your baby’s poo is therefore important (2).

      Baby poo colour, smell, textures, and frequency: What’s normal?

      Every baby is different, and their poo will be unique too. Baby poo varies depending on many factors like their age and what they eat or drink (2).

      One of the first things that changes with your baby’s poo is the colour…

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      Baby poo colour

      Your baby’s poo colour may change from one day to the next, and that is normal- you will often find yourself wiping various shades of brown, green and yellow tones from your baby’s bottom.

      Have a look at our baby poo chart to remind you what different baby poo colours may look like.

      Yellow is the most common, normal colour for breastfed baby poo (3).

      Brown is the most common, normal colour for formula fed baby poo (3).

      Green poo is one of the most common variations to the yellow baby poo or brown baby poo colours. Green baby poo in a baby that is otherwise well in themselves is usually not a cause for concern and can be considered a normal variation in baby poo colour (4). If you notice other symptoms in your baby alongside green poo, then contact your GP for advice (3).

      Your baby’s first poo is a very dark blackish green shade, it is sticky a bit like marmite in texture and called meconium. Meconium is made up of material that your baby ingests whilst in the womb. It can take a few days for the meconium to pass out of your baby’s system, baby poo colour will then change depending on how you are feeding your baby (3). Black baby poo after meconium could be a sign of blood coming from baby’s stomach and so you should call you doctor if you notice black baby poo. Baby poo colour can also change depending on the food baby has eaten, blueberries for example may make baby poo appear a darker or black colour (5).

      If you notice any red this could be blood in baby’s stool. It is important to seek medical attention if you suspect blood in baby’s poo as it could indicate a health problem or infection (6).

      White or pale baby poo can indicate a liver condition, although this is rare you should call you doctor if you notice pale baby poo in your baby’s nappy (7)(3).

      Baby poo textures

      Baby poo textures will depend on how your baby is being fed. Meconium in the first few days is thick and sticky, often it is trickier to clean off your baby. Breastfed baby poo is often quite runny whilst formula fed baby poo is firmer in texture. The poo of a formula fed baby may also vary depending on the composition of the formula used, as some makes poo runnier than others. Once your baby is weaning their poo will start to become more solid. Whilst runny baby poo may indicate diarrhoea, hard and dry baby poo may indicate constipation3. Although a variation in baby too texture could be normal, if you are concerned it is advisable to contact your GP for guidance.

      Breastfed baby poo

      If you are breastfeeding your baby their poo will often look like mustard, it can be a runny or slightly grainy texture. Breastfed baby poo often does not smell, and baby poo may differ depending on what a breastfeeding mother has eaten3.

      For support and advice on breastfeeding check out the Aptaclub Breastfeeding Hub.

      Baby poo when weaning

      Baby poo when weaning changes to become firmer, browner, and smellier. Naturally baby poo when weaning will vary in colour and texture depending on what your baby is eating. Baby poo will often become smellier when weaning and baby starts eating solid food8.

      To learn more about weaning your baby read here.

      Runny baby poo

      Remember that it is normal for babies to have quite runny poo, it tends to be more common in, but not exclusive to, breastfed babies. If you are noticing runny poo in your baby with more frequent stools this may indicate diarrhoea. Runny poo accompanied by a fever or smelly poo may indicate a stomach infection. If your baby has diarrhoea, you should contact your GP as baby’s are more prone to dehydration9.

      Read more about baby diarrhoea here.

      Hard baby stool

      Hard, small, and dry poo may indicate constipation in your baby. Having infrequent poo, less than 3 stools per week and noticing your baby is uncomfortable when having a poo are common signs of constipation10.

      Read more about the causes of and ways to help constipation here

      Frequency of baby poo

      The frequency of baby poo can vary significantly. Newborn babies will tend to poo after every feed if breast fed, or up to 5 times a day when formula fed. Then, after the first few months, this goes down to only one poo per day or some babies may even go a few days between poos. Bottom line is, if your baby is otherwise well and gaining weight, the frequency of their poos is likely to be very normal3.

      A baby struggling to poo is a sign of constipation, this is relatively common and usually simple to manage at home. A change in your baby’s diet, lack of fluids or inadequate fibre intake may all cause constipation in babies. Baby’s stomachs are learning how to digest foods and sometimes it may take a few days for them to pass a stool again, however if you baby is persistently struggling to poo or it lasts more than a few days you should contact your GP10.

      There is no set normal number of poo’s a baby should do a day as every baby is unique. In the first few weeks a baby should poo at least twice per day but often babies will poo much more than this. Breastfed babies will often poo after every feed, and this is very normal3.

      Other common questions about baby poo

      Nappy rash is very common in babies and can cause them to have a red bum. It happens because of baby’s delicate skin being in contact with urine or poo for a prolonged time, nappies rubbing or the use of products on baby’s skin. Nappy rash should clear up in a few days by ensuring you change baby’s nappies as soon as possible, clean thoroughly and gently dry. Nappy free time for baby’s may also help if they are experiencing red patches on their bum from nappy rash11.

      Occasional mucus in baby poo on its own is not usually a cause for concern, it could be the result of digestion or a cold in your baby. Persistent mucus in baby poo alongside other symptoms may indicate an allergy and you should contact your GP for advice12.

      Milk fat does not always get fully digested in a baby’s stomach, so they pass cottage cheese like milk curds in their poo because of undigested milk. Although most common in breastfed baby poo as breastmilk has a higher fat content it can also present in formula fed baby poo. If your baby poo is otherwise normal and baby shows no other symptoms this need not be a cause for concern12.

      To learn more about breastmilk and why there may be undigested milk in baby poo read here

      Foamy stool in breastfed babies may indicate an imbalance in fore and hindmilk, not switching breasts during a feed is a good way to help prevent this. In formula fed babies foamy poo may indicate an allergy or intolerance13.  If you are concerned it is advisable to contact your GP for guidance.

      It can seem like there is a lot of information to take in about your baby’s nappies, your baby’s poo colours, texture and frequency, but don’t feel overwhelmed. You can use our baby poo colour chart for a quick check and take each baby poo at a time.

      Midwife Pip

      pip-headshot-medium.png

      Pip is a practicing Midwifery Sister with many years of experience supporting families through pregnancy, birth, and the postnatal period. Pip is enthused by empowering women with evidence-based, honest information through her Online Your Pregnancy Journey and Antenatal Education Courses. Pip is also the founder of the Midwife Pip Podcast as she believes quality information should be accessible to all.

      Read more

      Related articles

      1. Thaman, L. and Einchenfield, L. (2014) Diapering Habits: A Global Perspective. Pediatric Dermatology. 31 (1).
      2. Gustin, J., Gibb, R., Kenneally, D., Kutay, B., Sui, S. and Roe, D. (2018) Characterizing exclusively breastfed infant stool via a novel infant stool scale. P&G Supplement. 42 (1), pp. 5-11.
      3. NHS (2021) How to change your baby’s nappy. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/baby/caring-for-a-newborn/how-to-change-your-babys-nappy/ [Accessed 20th January 2022].
      4. Mohrbacher, N. (2010) Breastfeeding Answers Made Simple. TX: Hale Publishing.
      5. Seattle Children’s (2022) Stools- Unusual colour. Available at: https://www.seattlechildrens.org/conditions/a-z/stools-unusual-color/ [Accessed 20th January 2022].
      6. Bhinde, S. (2014) Importance of stool examination in babies. Journal of Indian System of Medicine. 2 (3), pp. 139-142.
      7. Borgeat, M., Korff, S. and Wildhaber, B. (2018) Newborn biliary atresia screening with the stool colour card: a questionnaire survey of parents.
      8. O’Connor, C. (2020) Worried about constipation and weaning? Available at: https://solidstart.ie/preventing-constipation-weaning-baby/ [Accessed 20th January 2022].
      9. La Leche League International (2018) Baby’s Poop. Available at: https://www.llli.org/babys-poop/ [Accessed 20th January 2022].
      10. NHS (2022) Breastfeeding challenges. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/start4life/baby/feeding-your-baby/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-challenges/constipation/ [Accessed 20th January 2022].
      11. NHS (2021) Nappy Rash. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/baby/caring-for-a-newborn/nappy-rash/ [Accessed 20th January 2022].
      12. La Leche League GB (2017) What’s in a nappy. Available at: https://www.laleche.org.uk/whats-in-a-nappy/ [Accessed 20th January 2022].
      13. La Leche League International (2021) Too much milk and oversupply. Available at: https://www.laleche.org.uk/too-much-milk-and-oversupply/ [Accessed 20th January 2022].

      Last reviewed: 04th April 2022
      Reviewed by Oriana Hernandez Carrion

      Questions about feeding and nutrition?

      Our midwives, nutritionists and feeding advisors are always on hand to talk about feeding your baby. So if you have a question, just get in touch.

      Important notice

      Breastfeeding is best for babies and provides many benefits. It is important that, in preparation for and during breastfeeding, you eat a varied, balanced diet. Combined breast and bottle feeding in the first weeks of life may reduce the supply of your own breast milk, and reversing the decision not to breastfeed is difficult. The social and financial implications of using an infant formula should be considered. Improper use of an infant formula or inappropriate foods or feeding methods may present a health hazard. If you use an infant formula, you should follow manufacturer’s instructions for use carefully – failure to follow the instructions may make your baby ill. Always consult your doctor, midwife or health visitor for advice about feeding your baby.

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