Here’s the scoop on your newborn’s poop

NewbornPoopIt’s greenish-black with the consistency of road tar. What is it? It’ baby poop, of course. It’s hard to imagine that your sweet, sleepy newborn baby could produce such a noxious substance!

What’s with the rainbow of poop colors?

In your baby’s first week you might wonder why no one warned you about newborn poop. Generally, the greenish-black poop, called meconium, shows up in the first 24 hours. Meconium doesn’t reflect what you’ve fed your baby since she arrived on the outside, but what has collected in her intestines while in utero.

When baby is 2-4 days old the poop will change as it begins to reflect more what she is eating. These first transitional poops can be a brilliant green that will make you consider if your child is actually a leprechaun. No longer tacky enough to stick shingles on a roof, this poop is a sign that your baby’s digestive system is working.

What happens next has all to do with what your baby is eating. If there was ever a case for breastfeeding (beyond the health and cost-savings benefits) this is it. As the meconium is shed, a breastfed baby’s poop normally becomes a Dijon mustard yellow, green or brown color. It doesn’t have the foul smell of formula poop. In fact, it has almost a sweetish odor (remember these things are all relative)! Mom’s breast milk tends to be easier for baby to digest, breastfed babies be more variable from stooling once a week to 7 times a day.

The colors of healthy newborn poop can range among yellow, yellow-orange, yellow-green, green and various shades of brown. But a pale whitish-colored stool can mean a lack of bile. Check with your child’s pediatrician. It may mean that the bile is not getting secreted effectively into the small intestine.

While the meconium poop is black and tarry, and female infants may have a little red discharge in the first few days, generally, red or black poop may be the result of injury. Poop that is black may be a result of blood earlier on in the digestive tract.

Allergies can also cause some bleeding, if they lead to inflammation and irritation of the GI tract.

How often should my baby poop?

Babies should probably poop in the first 24 hours after their arrival, but as mentioned before, after that it is somewhat dependent on whether they are breastfed or formula fed. Some babies may have as many as 12 bowel movements a day, but as their digestive systems mature they’re able to digest more food, even not pooping for several days. Formula-fed newborns might poop up to five times a day.

To recap:

When to call the doctor

Dr. Moira Richards, Medical Director of Children’s Services at TMC for Children
and neonatologist with Pediatrix (Mednax) Medical Group, stresses that these issues are seldom an emergency, encouraging parents to be aware of how your child is acting. Are they sleeping and eating normally? Then reach out to your child’s pediatrician if the issues persist for more than several bowel movements or in the case of blood in the stool if it fills the diaper.

If your baby’s poop is:

• Still black several days after birth
• Red or bloody for more than 2- 3 bowel movements
• White or gray 2- 3 bowel movements
• Consistently watery (soaks completely into the diaper)
• Hard and pellet like

Dr. Richards also comments that parents are often concerned that their child is constipated because they appear to grunt when pooping, but that every child does this. Having a bowel movement while lying on your back is not easy, however as long as the resulting poop is soft there is no need for concern for constipation.

Keep track of your baby’s bowel movements, including color, consistency, volume and frequency, if you’re concerned and be ready to share this information you’re your pediatrician. The more details you provide, the better the doctor will be able to help you determine what’s normal for your baby.