If, as a new parent, you’ve spent a good amount of time wondering if the poop in your baby’s diaper is normal, you’re not alone. Dr. Ella Salvador, pediatrician at Ospital ng Muntinlupa and Unihealth-Parañaque Hospital and Medical Center, who was one of our featured experts at "Smart Parenting Workshop: All About School Age Kids," says baby poop comes in a variety of colors and textures, ranging from yellow and orange to green and brown. In fact, she adds, baby poop will surprise and bewilder any first-time mom or dad.
What the first poops are like The first poop of a newborn is called meconium. Dr. Salvador, who showed images at the workshop (you can catch a glimpse here), warns that it can be a little alarming--it is dark green to black in color with a thick and sticky consistency. She assures us it’s completely normal. Your baby’s first poop has all the stuff he collected while in the utero like old blood cells and skin cells, hence its odd appearance.
Decoding poop colors A few days after birth and feeding, his poop starts to change. Here’s when you start to notice that baby poop can come in a variety of colors--yellow, orange, green, brown and all the shades in between. The color of poop is usually what worries parents but most of the time, as long as it lands in the colors mentioned beforehand, there’s not much to be concerned about, according to Dr. Salvador.
However, your baby's poop color is different when he breastfeeds or is formula fed. Breastmilk is more quickly absorbed and moves faster through the digestive system. Formula milk, on the other hand, takes a little longer. And time, along with bile (a fluid that aids digestion), is what dictates color. Yellow means a fast transit time, green when the process slows down and even slower and the poop comes out brown.
Breastfed babies: have yellow or green colored poop that is loose or pasty in consistency; smells a little less offensive than regular poop.
Formula-fed babies: have tan to brown colored poop that can have a more buttery or pudding-like consistency; smells more like regular poop
How often your baby poops Different babies poop a number of different times in day. There’s not a set-in-stone number. Some kids will go up to seven or eight times a day, according to Dr. Salvador, and some go every other day. “A breastfed baby makes three to four stools every day. And, it's not usually formed, it has more of a pasty consistency. Baka isipin nyo nag-LBM siya or diarrhea, but it's very normal.”
Formula fed babies, on the other hand, may poop less often. As your baby grows older, his bowl movements can also drop in frequency.
When to worry Sometimes, it could be difficult to know when a baby has diarrhea since a baby’s poop is naturally loose and frequent. But, baby diarrhea can be drastically different. If you see mucus in your baby’s poop and it spills out his diaper and reaches all the way to his back, call your doctor right away.
Babies can put on a funny face when they’re pooping--you know the one--but don’t worry. It’s usually not a sign of constipation. “A baby doesn't know how to... contract the abdominal musculature and push,” says Dr. Barry Steinmetz, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Miller Children's Hospital Long Beach in the U.S. “Plus, they don't have gravity helping them like when you sit on a commode.”
Signs of constipation in your baby are firm, pebble-like stools. Call your doctor if this is what your baby’s poop is like.
Poop colors like white, black and red could indicate problems and the cue to consult your pediatrician.
White could mean that your baby’s liver isn’t producing enough bile; therefore what he eats doesn’t get digested enough. Black and red could both indicate blood. Black is a sign of digested blood in the gastrointestinal tract. Bright red could mean fresh blood that’s coming from the colon or rectum. Talk to your doctor if you notice any of these.