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The Scoop on Baby Poop

By Mara Paradis, M.D.

Baby boy smiling.

New parents often worry about what they find in their baby's diaper. It is normal to see a number of changes and colors in your baby's stool as he or she grows. Boys Town Pediatrics explains what is normal and when to call your pediatrician.

Baby Poop Guide

The frequency in which your infant passes a bowel movement can be very variable. Your newborn will most likely have the first bowel movement during the first 24 hours of life. When stooling takes longer, a pediatrician looks for problems such as intestinal blockages, an underdeveloped anus, or stool that is stuck, called a meconium plug. Some infants will pass a stool every single time they eat and other infants will pass a stool once a week.

  • Newborn Baby Poop. Newborn poop (meconium) has a greenish-black, tarry, sticky consistency that resembles motor oil. The very first stool your baby passes doesn't smell too stinky because meconium is sterile. Until the intestines are colonized with bacteria, the poop is not stinky. Bacterial colonization begins with the first feeding. In the first couple of days of life, a parent should make sure that stools transition from meconium stools into a more yellow, seedy type of stool.
  • Breastfeeding. Breastfed baby poop has a mustard yellow, green or brown color and often a seedy texture. The stool may be runny enough to resemble diarrhea and may smell sweet, unlike regular bowel-movement odor.
  • Formula. Formula baby poop has a color spectrum from yellow to brown shades with a pasty consistency similar to peanut butter. There are typically fewer stools than a breastfed baby but can come in larger sizes and may have a more foul odor. 
  • Partially Digested Food.  Due to an immature digestive system and because it travels so quickly through the intestines, it is not uncommon to see incompletely digested food to appear in your baby's poop or for the stool to have a surprising color.
  • Baby Poop Colors. Variations in stool colors are normal. The color of their bowel movements will vary as their gut matures and their diet advances. 

Warning Signs and When to Call Your Pediatrician

Call if it is painful for your baby to pass a bowel movement, you see blood in the stool, or you are concerned about diarrhea or constipation. Follow the baby poop guide and know that as a parent, you will experience a full range of normal baby poop types and colors during your baby's growth. If alarming changes do occur, do not hesitate to call your pediatrician.