Parenting … The unprecedented joys you get to experience when you’re taking care of a little one, such as Googling baby poop color charts to find out if you need a reason to panic or not!
From the moment your new baby is born, you’re alert to so many things. From sleep to feeding to diapering, parents are often encouraged to track their babies’ every move for the first few weeks. And part of this attentiveness includes watching out for dirty diapers.
You’ll also find yourself often discussing this with your other mommy friends too, with everyone sharing their own findings and experiences. Who would have thought that poop would ever be the center of your conversations one day?
Of course, it’s not exactly fun, but it is important to recognize what’s healthy and what’s not when it comes to baby’s output.
You likely wonder, what colors are normal for baby poop? What textures and types can I expect? And should it really smell as bad as people say? We have the answers to those questions, plus plenty of other questions you have about baby poop.
This article aims to be the ultimate baby poop color chart, so that the next time you’re changing your little one’s diapers, you know all about what’s going on down there and whether or not that color indicates there’s something for you to worry about.
What To Know About Baby Poop Colors
While there are common colors and textures you’ll see in your baby’s diaper all the time, there are only a few signs which indicate a true problem. Because every baby is different, there’s a wide range of what’s considered to be “normal”, just like any other milestone or developmental indicator in childhood.
Plus, a baby’s poop changes with dietary changes (feeding breast milk, formula, or solid food), digestive tract maturation, bacteria colonization throughout the body, and depending on what color pigments the stool picks up as it leaves the body.
The color and texture of your baby’s poop can tell you a lot about their development and overall health. However, you should also pay attention to other indicators of health problems and contact your doctor immediately if you feel something is wrong or needs attention.
What Colors Are Normal In Baby Poop?
In general, colors from black, green, brown, orange, tan, and yellow are normal in baby poop.
However, there are guidelines for which colors are appropriate in relation to your baby’s diet and development.
The color can also switch abruptly from one diaper change to another—this is usually normal, too. Read on for more about what colors to expect and when to expect them.
What Colors Are Not Normal In Baby Poop?
While most poop is “normal” in some regard, there are a few indicators of serious health problems based on the color of your baby’s poop. For example:
Unusual Situation #1: If poop stays “tarry black” after the first three days of life, this is no longer considered normal. This could indicate blood in the digestive tract, and the blood turns black as it travels through the intestines.
Unusual Situation #2: Stools which appear white and chalky; this may mean your baby isn’t making enough bile in his belly to properly digest the food they eat.
Unusual Situation #3: Bright red poop can also mean your baby is passing blood or potentially has internal bleeding. However, before you panic: red stool can also happen with some medications, if your baby eats beets, or if they consume foods or drinks with dyes. Either way, your doctor can run tests to check the stool if you are concerned.
Here’s a link to a very useful guide from John’s Hopkins University that has a picture guide for parents.
Common Colors You Might See in Baby’s Diaper
Babies tend to poop at least once per day from the first day of life, but did you know the colors can change from diaper to diaper?
Experienced parents know it’s sometimes shocking to open a diaper and see odd-colored poo, but it’s actually normal to see a few different shades.
Of course, there are colors which indicate health problems, and we’ll go over those as well in this section.
|Poop Color||Normal or Not|
|Black||In newborns, yes|
|White||No; need to see a physician ASAP|
|Green||Yes, in certain cases|
|Red||No; need to see a physician ASAP, unless your baby has been eating beets/red dye|
1) Black, Tar-Like Poo
Baby’s first poo post-birth is often sticky, difficult to wipe off, and looks mostly black.
It can also have a greenish hue, which becomes more apparent the more you wipe. This type of poop should only last one to three days, and it’s unique to newborn babies.
It won’t smell, but it will require some extra wiping and can be very thick. It will start to “thin out” over the first few days of life as your baby begins to eat regularly and digest their meals.
If you’re not having your baby supplement with iron, talk to your doctor if you notice black poop, just to make sure it’s not melena or digested blood.
Note from Dr. Leah Alexander, M.D., F.A.A.P.: “Regarding the issue of iron supplements being a potential cause of black stools: Clinically, in infants, this is rarely seen.
Most iron supplements are given in combination with a multivitamin, and stool color is not affected.
This is also the case when using iron-fortified formulas.”
2) Yellow Mustard-Colored Poop
A yellow and mustardy type poop is most common in breastfed babies of all ages.
The small particles in the poop are milk curds, proof your baby is eating and processing their milk.
This poo often has little or no odor, and it can even smell sweet.
Of course, it’s going to be harder to wash out the stains from this kind of poop, so take care when diapering! Still, this color is completely normal and expected, and you may even see it with babies who are formula fed with specific brands or mixes.
For example, Neocate says its formula can create light mustard colored stool in fully formula-fed babies drinking the Neocate Syneo Infant product. The company explains this by noting the formula does not contain fiber, so it’s easy to break down and process, even for sensitive babies.
3) White Baby Poop
White-colored infant bowel movements are sometimes normal, especially if your baby has recently changed formulas. However, if the consistency is chalk-like or clay-like, this can indicate a lack of bile in the baby’s gut, which is a serious condition.
Stool is normally brownish-colored because of the bile in the digestive system, so a lack of color can mean intestinal or digestive issues. Some liver diseases can also cause white stools.
4) Tan Baby Poo
Formula fed babies often have darker and harder stools than breastfed babies.
They can appear tan in color, but this also depends on the type of formula you feed them. For example, parents who choose to use soy formula can often expect lighter-colored stools.
5) Brown Baby Stools
Brown may be the color adults and older kids expect to see when they use the bathroom, but it’s less common in infants. However, it’s still within the range of normal.
Formula can produce tan, yellow, and brown stools, while breastfed babies tend not to produce brown stools as much.
6) Green Infant Poop
While newborn meconium can have a greenish tint, there is another cause of green poop in infants.
Hypoallergenic infant formula can cause babies to produce greener bowel movements. Of course, this depends on the type of formula your baby eats and whether they have any food sensitivities or digestion problems.
Oftentimes, green baby poop is also a result of iron supplementation – whether in the form of feeding iron-fortified formula or any other way.
Note from Dr. Leah Alexander, M.D., F.A.A.P.: “I have seen a few other reasons clinically for stool to be green.
If the infant has an upper respiratory infection and there is lots of nasal mucous, this is
swallowed and tends to turn the stools green.
There can even be a mucous quality to these stools as well.
Stools also tend to be green in cases of viral gastroenteritis. They are often accompanied by a very foul odor and can be voluminous.”
7) Reddish Streaks or Red-Hued Poop
Typically, red indicates the presence of blood. However, as mentioned, certain foods your baby eats (if they’re on solids now) can also create red stools.
If you notice red streaks and your baby hasn’t eaten anything other than breast milk or formula, however, this can signify another health problem.
Red streaks in a bowel movement or in your baby’s diaper can be a sign of dietary sensitivities such as dairy intolerance.
If you notice what looks like blood and your baby’s diet offers no explanation, you should talk to your doctor to rule out any serious illness.
Note from Dr. Leah Alexander, M.D., F.A.A.P.: “More specifically, red streaks in the stool are associated with milk and soy protein allergies.
This can even be seen in breastfed infants if mom consumes these allergens in her diet.
Along with the stool findings, most of these infants are irritable and lose weight despite frequent feeding.”
Types of Baby Poo Parents Can Expect
In the first few months of your baby’s life—and even the first year—things change a lot!
From doubling their birth weight to starting to coo and babble, babies always seem to be up to something new. The same applies to their diapers, however unfortunate it may seem.
You can expect your baby’s poop to change from month to month and even day to day, depending on a long list of factors.
The following is a list of some of the most common types of poop that parents can expect from the first day of life onward.
1) Newborn Baby Poop (Meconium)
Since babies only urinate in the womb and don’t poop in there, you can expect them to void within the first few hours of birth.
This first poop contains just about everything the baby consumed while in the womb.
And although babies aren’t actively “eating” while in the uterus, their first poop contains things like:
- Intestinal epithelial cells
- Lanugo (the fine hair covering babies’ bodies in utero)
- Amniotic fluid
The first poop is called meconium, and it’s often tar-like in consistency. However, it shouldn’t smell bad.
Meconium is sterile, since baby’s intestines haven’t been colonized with bacteria yet, so it can’t smell. However, if the baby ingests the meconium, this presents serious health concerns.
It is possible for a baby to “accidentally” poop while in the womb (usually due to stress), and babies who breathe in (aspirate) the meconium can get very sick. If your baby does poop before delivery, he or she may require monitoring or medical assistance.
Also, babies who poop inside the womb (or during their exit) may not pass as much meconium over the first three days or so of life.
All babies can continue to expel meconium for the first couple of days, but the color of their poop will change thanks to bacterial colonization in the body and their regular formula or breastmilk feedings.
2) Breastfed Baby Poop
If you breastfeed your baby from day one, you can expect a gradual color change from blackish green to yellow.
However, babies who are breastfed digest their milk more fully than formula-fed babies, meaning you may not see much poop from a baby who nurses – since there’s not much waste leftover afterward.
Of course, all babies do poop, but breastfed babies may poop less frequently. Some babies, though, will poop after almost every feeding – and it’s completely normal too!
The important issue here is what the poop looks like; breastfed baby poop is normally “seedy” looking. As mentioned, the “seed” bits are milk curd, a sign your baby’s digestive system is already hard at work.
Your exclusively breastfed baby will likely continue to poop this mustardy variety until they begin to eat solid foods.
The overall consistency should appear a bit runny, but too much liquid can indicate diarrhea. In general, breastfed baby stools are loose or pasty.
Note from Dr. Leah Alexander, M.D., F.A.A.P.: “Regarding the issue of there being less frequent stools in breastfed babies – clinically, I see the opposite.
Most breastfeed babies pass small stool 4-6 times/day. Formula fed infants stool at most twice/day, but sometimes only every 2-3 days.
With that being said, there is an article from the AAP that states otherwise about stool frequency, so there appears to be a discrepancy depending on different factors.
3) Formula Fed Baby Poop
Most formula fed babies have yellowish-brown or brown poop. Think more like peanut butter or pudding, and they tend to smell like regular adult bowel movements too.
Formula fed babies tend to poop three or four times per day, and you can even see “seeds” in their stool as well.
There are variations even among formula fed babies, however. Hypoallergenic formulas, for example, often produce green or even dark green stools.
Consistency can vary between pasty, loose and watery, or even formed and hard.
Babies with unique nutritional needs will benefit from special formulas in other ways, but their stools may change as they adapt to a new formula.
4) Combination Feeding and Baby Poop
If you supplement your breastfed baby with formula or have an otherwise mixed feeding approach, you can expect some variation in bowel movements.
If you have just introduced a formula, for example, your baby may need a few weeks to adjust to the new food.
Also, some formulas can create constipation in babies, while others require a bit of an adjustment period. How well your baby deals with combination feeding depends on their digestion and any food sensitivities they might have.
Depending on what formula you feed your baby, she may consistently produce yellow, seedy stools whether breastfeeding or bottle feeding – but some variation is also normal.
5) When Baby Starts Solids
Starting solids is a huge milestone for babies and it can affect their potty habits in different ways.
Depending on a few factors such as whether your baby has food sensitivities or allergies, how well they digest food, and what milk they’ve been drinking, starting solids can change their bowel movements.
Along with changes in frequency, you can expect babies just newly starting solids to have stools the same color as the foods they’re eating. It can be startling at first, but it’s common to see blue stools from babies eating blueberries, or the ever-frightening red stool from beets.
What’s not normal, however, is stool containing blood or mucous; both can be signs of an allergy or other illness.
Also, stools should not become more watery as your baby eats more solids; poop should really get harder and thicker as babies eat more pureed and table food.
Constipation is also somewhat normal, yet worrisome. Signs of constipation in babies include:
- Decrease in frequency
- Baby strains a lot when they poop
- Baby has dry and hard stools resembling rounded pebbles
Ideally, you should introduce new foods slowly and watch for any potential allergic reactions or tummy troubles in your baby.
A week or two per new food is preferable, but you may need to offer small amounts at first to avoid constipation.
6) Diarrhea at All Stages
It can be difficult to figure out whether your baby has diarrhea when every diaper is so unpredictable. However, common signs of diarrhea in babies are:
- Suddenly looser stools
- More watery stools than normal
- More poop in larger amounts and more frequently than normal
- Foul odor
- Mucous and/or blood
Diarrhea is dangerous when present in babies, especially infants, because it causes them to get dehydrated. If you notice signs of dehydration in your little one, such as fewer wet diapers, dry mouth, lethargy, and fussiness, it’s likely time to see a doctor.
Causes of diarrhea can vary, so treatment needs to address not only the most pressing concern (dehydration), but also any underlying causes. Common causes of diarrhea in babies are:
- A viral or bacterial infection or parasite
- Food allergies
- Sensitivity to medicines
- Too much juice
Especially if the baby’s diarrhea presents with other troubling symptoms such as a fever, belly pain, or vomiting, you’ll want to see a doctor immediately.
Note from Dr. Leah Alexander, M.D., F.A.A.P.: “The Mayo Clinic offers some additional causes of diarrhea that would warrant evaluation by a doctor: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diarrhea/expert-answers/diarrhea-in-infants/faq-20095632
Wrapping It Up
Knowing what’s normal and what’s not when it comes to your baby’s diaper, poop color and what you see inside can help alleviate parents’ fears.
It can also give you a better idea of what to expect depending on what your baby’s eating, how old they are, and whether they’re feeling well or not.
It might not exactly be a fun task to change diapers, but now you can do so with confidence knowing when you need to worry and when everything is a-okay.
Of course, you know it’s not always nice to look at, but there are many variations of baby poop which can indicate a healthy, happy, and thriving baby. In other cases, talking to a pediatrician is a must.
Either way, you might want to be prepared and invest in more wipes! Been there, done that … You’ll need ’em!