As a new mom, you’re probably wondering how often your newborn should be pooping, and what it should look like. A baby’s bowel movements are a good indication of her health, but most new parents have no idea what to expect. There’s no handbook to being a parent, so it’s perfectly normal to be apprehensive or unsure.
To ease your mind, here are 10 things you should know about your baby’s bowel movements.
Table of Contents
- 1. Newborns Can Have 8-10 Bowel Movements a Day
- 2. A Persistent Swollen Abdomen May Mean She’s Constipated
- 3. Early Newborn BMs Are Thick and Green
- 4. Poop Colors Can Vary
- 5. Healthy Breastfed Poop Looks like Dijon Mustard
- 6. Frothy Poop May Mean Your Newborn Isn’t Eating Enough
- 7. Formula Poop Looks like Peanut Butter
- 8. Diarrhea Can Be a Sign of Something Serious
- 9. Watch Out For Bloody Poop
- 10. Know the Signs of Abnormal Poop
1. Newborns Can Have 8-10 Bowel Movements a Day
How often should a newborn poop? According to pediatricians, up to 8-10 times per day – probably more than you expected. But this number isn’t definitive. As long as she’s having at least one BM (bowel movement) per day, she’s probably okay.
Even if she skips a day, she’s probably alright – as long as she’s eating enough and wetting her diaper 5-6 times per day.
There are some newborns that poop after every meal. Others only poop once or twice per week.
2. A Persistent Swollen Abdomen May Mean She’s Constipated
If your baby goes one day without a bowel movement, there’s probably no cause for concern (see above). But if her abdomen is persistently swollen or she’s uncomfortable, it’s time to see your doctor.
She may need some help with pooping, and your doctor can offer recommendations on how to fix the issue.
Also, pay attention to the texture of the stool. It should be relatively soft. If her poop is hard and dry, your little one may be constipated.
3. Early Newborn BMs Are Thick and Green
In an infant’s early days, their bowel movements are dark green in color and thick in consistency. The color and thickness is due to meconium, which has been building up in her intestines during pregnancy.
As your baby starts feeding and having regular BMs, she should finish expelling the meconium relatively quickly.
4. Poop Colors Can Vary
Once the meconium is expelled, your baby’s stool should appear yellowish in color, but newborn bowel movements can vary in color from one day to the next.
The color of your infant’s stool will depend on a variety of things, including her hydration levels, what you’re eating (if you’re breastfeeding) and the type of formula your baby is drinking (if applicable).
5. Healthy Breastfed Poop Looks like Dijon Mustard
If you’re breastfeeding your baby exclusively, her poop should be a light green or yellow color, and it’s consistency should be creamy or mushy. It’s also not uncommon for the consistency to be runny, similar to diarrhea.
Most moms describe breastfed poop as a mixture of Dijon mustard and cottage cheese. You may see some seed-like flecks in there, too. The smell shouldn’t be harsh.
Keep in mind that your baby’s poop may vary in color, and its color will likely depend on what you’re eating.
6. Frothy Poop May Mean Your Newborn Isn’t Eating Enough
If you’re breastfeeding and you notice that your newborn’s stool is bright green in color and frothy in texture (like algae), she may not be getting too much foremilk, the milk that comes first in feeding, and not enough of the higher-fat hindmilk.
If this is the case, you may just need to feed her for longer on each breast. Try to start each feeding on the breast you ended on the previous feeding.
7. Formula Poop Looks like Peanut Butter
Babies who are formula-fed typically pass stool that looks like peanut butter – mostly brown, but can be tan, yellow or even green. Typically, formula poop has a stronger smell.
8. Diarrhea Can Be a Sign of Something Serious
Diarrhea in newborns can be alarming. It’s incredibly runny, and can be green, yellow or brown in color. In some cases, it may “explode” or leak out of the diaper – not a pretty sight.
If your baby has diarrhea, it may be a sign of an infection or an allergy. It can lead to dehydration if it persists and is left untreated, so do take precautions to ensure that your baby is well-hydrated if she has diarrhea.
Call your doctor right away if your baby is 3 months or younger and has had two or more diarrhea-filled diapers, or if she continues to have diarrhea for more than a few days.
If you see blood or mucus in the stool, see your doctor right away.
9. Watch Out For Bloody Poop
You may notice blood in your newborn’s poop, even if she’s healthy. There are a few things that can cause this:
- Diarrhea mixes with blood, which may indicate that your baby has a bacterial infection.
- A milk protein allergy can cause your baby’s poop to be tinged with red blood.
- If your baby is constipated, her stool may have tinges of red blood. This is likely caused by tiny tears in her anus or hemorrhoids.
Sometimes, the blood is black in color – not red. Black is typically an indication that she’s digested the blood. It may look like tiny sesame seeds or poppy seeds in the stool. This is usually caused by the baby swallowing blood from a bleeding or cracked nipple (it’s more common than you think). While it may be alarming to see, this is usually no cause for concern – although you may be in need some pain relief.
Even though black blood can be harmless, it’s still important to contact your doctor just to make sure that the issue isn’t something serious, like bleeding in the upper intestinal tract.
10. Know the Signs of Abnormal Poop
A newborn’s bowel movements can be an indication of health, so if something’s amiss, it will likely show up in her stool somehow. Be on the lookout for abnormal poop, which can include:
- “Jelly Poop”: Stool that consists almost entirely of red blood. This indicates a very serious intestinal problem, so contact your doctor immediately.
- Thick black poop consists almost entirely of digested blood, and is usually tarry in consistency.
- Clay-colored, pale or chalky poop. This is a sign that your baby’s gallbladder or liver may be failing.
Although these types of poop are rare, it’s important to see your doctor immediately if they do show up.
If you’re concerned about your newborn’s bowel movements, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor. A simple stool sample should give you peace of mind – or a diagnosis if something is truly wrong.