Your baby’s poo will change depending on what they’re eating, whether they’re well, and whether they’re a newborn or a growing baby. This article presents a guide to the different types – what’s normal and what’s not.
- Newborn babies – dark green or black, sticky poo.
- If it doesn’t appear in the first 24 hours after your baby’s birth, see your midwife, health visitor or doctor.
- Yellow, or slightly green. It has a creamy consistency, and looks a bit like mustard, or korma curry sauce!
Formula fed poo
- Formula fed poo will be stronger smelling than breastmilk poo, and generally has a browner colour, a bit like peanut butter.
- It is usually brown, thicker and smellier – like adult poo.
- Thin green poo.
- If it lasts longer than 24 hours, take your baby to the doctor to be checked. You can take a nappy full of the green poo to show the doctor.
- Babies with diarrhoea will usually pass poo more often. It can be yellow, green or brown and might be very watery.
- Go to your Doctor or midwife.
- Hard, impacted or pebble like baby poo. This can be quite dry.
- If your baby has been constipated for longer than a day or two go and see your doctor. If there is blood in the poo, go and see the doctor quickly.
Baby poo with blood or mucus
- Take your baby to the doctor (along with their nappy) if you see any blood or mucus in their poo.
Very pale poo
- Very pale poo can be a sign of jaundice, so do ask your doctor or midwife to have a look, keep the nappy full of pale poo so you can show them.
- In an older baby or toddler, pale baby poo that float can be a sign of illnesses like a coeliac disease – you need to go to the Doctor.
When you have a new baby you soon learn all about poo. It can be alarming to see the quantity, smell and colour of your baby’s dirty nappies or diapers and in our visual gallery we show you what’s normal and what’s not.
Here are some other types of poo to know about but there is much more information in our breastfeeding videos, formula feeding videos and baby health videos if you are concerned about your baby’s poo.
Pale or white poo – urgent see a doctor
If your baby has pale or white stools take her (along with a dirty nappy) along to see your GP immediately as there is a rare condition called biliary atresia when babies develop jaundice but are not unwell and have white or pale poo due to obstruction in the bile flow. This can be serious so must be reported immediately.
Meconium is the black tar like poo that your baby produces at first after they have been born. If you give birth in a hospital the doctor will generally want to know that your baby has successfully produced meconium before they can be discharged after the birth. This usually happens within 48 hours of the birth and is a good sign that your baby’s digestive system has started to move and peristalsis is working.
The reason your baby’s meconium looks so strange is that while your baby is growing in the uterus all her food is transported via the placenta and umbilical cord directly into your baby’s bloodstream – like an intravenous drip. Babies in the uterus don’t need to digest and absorb food but they do swallow amniotic fluid and meconium is basically amniotic fluid baby poo.
When your baby is born they will begin feeding within an hour of birth and as they start to digest your breastmilk or formula milk you will see their poo evolve from dark tar-like meconium to digested milk poo; either breastmilk or formula milk.
Urgent – if you baby doesn’t produce meconium within 24-48 hours of the birth it’s important to tell your baby’s doctor or midwife. On rare occasions, delayed production of meconium can mean there is a blockage in a baby’s gut which may require surgery to unblock.
Why is my breastfeed baby producing green poo?
Green poo can be completely normal for new babies. It’s more common in babies with colds as the mucus speeds up movement through the gut (which is the reason baby poo can be green). If your baby is growing well and the baby poo is the normal, soft texture there is probably nothing to worry about.
However, if your baby has other symptoms such as reflux or eczema and the green poo is persistent speak to your doctor. If your baby is having a reaction to dairy proteins you might expect to see that the baby poo is not only green but also contains a lot of mucous and has an unusual texture.
A lot of new mums worry that if their baby has green poos it means their milk isn’t fatty enough or that their baby is getting too much ‘foremilk’ – however, this would be reflected in low weight gain. If, you are worried monitor your baby’s weight gain with regular measurements at your local well baby clinic. Also, look out for green poo that is also frothy (with bubbles), contains mucous and may even have flecks of blood.
If your newborn baby is producing green poo and seems very unsettled it is important to make sure that your baby is latched on at the breast and feeding well. Visit your local drop in NHS breastfeeding clinic so they can watch your baby breastfeeding.
It is also worth getting unusual green poo checked out to rule out other more serious problems such as a problem or blockage in your baby’s gut.
Breastfed baby poo
Breastfed baby poo is actually quite a pleasant sweet smelling substance. It doesn’t smell like adult poo though when your baby is weaned onto solid food their poo will sadly quickly evolve into smellier, adult like poo.
Breastfed poo can be quite small in volume because breastmilk is such a perfect food for babies they digest and absorb it very well and there is very little waste. This means that their poo contains the natural waste products of their metabolism as they grow and develop. It is mainly yellow due to bile being released into the gut from the gallbladder. The bile contains a protein called bilirubin which is made from the breakdown of old red blood cells.
So, enjoy your baby’s breastfed poo while it’s there. It is generally yellow coloured (like mustard), full of little ‘grains’ and has a sweet, not unpleasant smell.
Formula fed poo
Formula fed babies tend to produce more baby poo than breastfed babies as they can’t digest as much of the formula milk. Formula fed poo is also browner more peanut butter like poo. It’s smellier than breastfed poo but not as smelly as a baby who has been weaned onto solids.
Is my baby constipated?
Formula fed babies are more prone to constipation than breastfed babies so it’s really important that you make up the formula exactly as it’s advised on your baby’s formula box. Never add an extra scoop to help them sleep or ‘help them to grow’ as you will increase the risk of painful constipation and your baby may receive too many calories which can have long-term implications on their weight and health.
If your baby is constipated there may even be streaks of blood in their poo due to a little tear in their anus. However, you must always get your baby checked out by a doctor if there is blood in their nappy or diaper as they can assess why it’s there. If your baby is constipated see our article about preventing and treating constipation for advice.
Has my baby got diarrhoea?
Diarrhoea is characterised by strong smelling watery poo and is generally caused by a tummy bug. If you baby has diarrhoea read our article on how to treat diarrhoea and keep your baby safely hydrated now. If your baby does have a bout of diarrhoea they can also quickly get a nasty nappy or diaper rash. Read our guide and watch our short video on how to prevent and treat nappy rash for advice.
Blood in diarrhoea can be a sign that your baby is fighting a bacterial infection and may need antibiotics so take your baby and their nappy or diaper as a specimen to your doctor immediately if there are blood and diarrhoea in their nappy.
What should I do if there is blood in my baby’s poo?
If there is blood in your baby’s poo it’s important to take the nappy or diaper along to the doctor to show them as they can assess where the blood has come from and what has caused it. It can be caused by severe nappy rash or an anal fissure (a small cut near your baby’s bottom often caused by straining with constipation). If your older baby is drinking cow’s milk and their poo is basically normally but you can see tinges of blood he may have an allergy to cow’s milk protein. Around 5% of babies have an allergy to the proteins in cow’s milk so speak to your doctor about changing to a safe milk for your baby to drink.
If there seems to be white or clear mucus along with the poo then mention this to the doctor and take along the nappy or diaper as a specimen too, especially if your baby is very young as it may indicate a medical problem.
Your baby’s poo can a helpful barometer of their health, hydration and diet so it’s a good idea to always note and notice what your baby’s poo is like and if it changes after certain foods etc. You can then use your baby’s poo as an early warning system of an:
- of an illness
- if they need more water to drink as the weather gets warmer
- if they seem to be intolerant or allergic to some foods