The different stages, types and colours of baby poo really need to be understood. These are the different types and colours of poo you’ll probably see in your baby’s nappies:
What is meconium and what does it look like?
When your baby is born, and for the first couple of days, babies produce a very particular type of poo called meconium. Basically it’s made up of everything your baby was swallowing while inside your uterus, such as amniotic fluid and mucus.
It’s a dark green or black, sticky poo. It’s not smelly and looks a bit like thick black oil or tar. If it doesn’t appear in the first 24 hours after your baby’s birth, see your midwife, health visitor or doctor. (The maternity ward will often like to see that your baby has produced meconium before you are both discharged from hospital, to make sure that her gut is moving and working properly.)
What does breastfed poo look like?
The first milk you produce is called colostrum. It works like a laxative for your baby and helps get all the goo – the meconium – out of your baby’s system. Once this has all passed, and if you are breastfeeding, your baby will start passing normal ‘breastfed poo’ which is yellow, or slightly green. It has a creamy consistency, and looks a bit like mustard, or korma sauce! It is sweet smelling and not ‘smelly’ like adult poo!
Babies vary a lot as to how many times they poo every day. Some poo after every feed. At first your baby might produce eight to 10 little poos a day but on average this settles to usually around four times a day, but it might be quite a bit less – maybe only once every few days. If this happens, make sure your baby is getting enough milk – chat it through with your midwife or public health nurse. If the poos are always soft and pass with no discomfort, it can be fine if they are not pooing several times a day – it’s best to get things checked though and make sure your baby is not dehydrated and that feeding is going well.
What does formula-fed poo look and smell like?
Babies fed on formula have thicker poo than breastfed babies, since formula milk can’t be digested as easily as breastmilk. Formula-fed babies can be more likely to get constipated, so it is vital to make sure that your baby’s formula has exactly the right proportion of water to formula powder. Formula-fed poo will be stronger smelling than breastmilk poo, and generally has a browner colour – a bit like peanut butter.
Why does my baby have green poo?
Occasionally babies produce quite green poo, which can be quite explosive (though lots of newborn pooing is quite loud and explosive!) and this often goes along with your baby being unsettled and unhappy. If you are breastfeeding it might be a sign that your baby is taking too much foremilk during feeds. Green poo might also be a reaction to the type of formula milk you are using or because of a tummy bug. 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 or your midwife. Don’t worry, doctors look at poo all the time!
What does solid-fed poo look like?
When your baby starts to eat solid food, her poo will begin to become more like an adult’s. It is usually brown, thicker and smellier than poo from exclusively milk-fed babies. Quite often you can see undigested bits of what they’ve been eating in their poo – like sweetcorn!
What does baby diarrhoea look like?
Babies with diarrhoea will usually pass poo more often. It can be yellow, green or brown, and if severe it will be very watery so that you sometimes see a wet nappy with a few solid bits stuck to it. Diarrhoea can spurt out quite quickly and it is more acidic and foul-smelling than normal poo. Babies’ bottoms can become very sore and red after just one nappy of diarrhoea, especially if the nappy isn’t changed immediately.
What does baby constipation look like?
When your baby is constipated, their poo will be hard, impacted or pebbly. Just because your baby makes a funny strained face when he does poo, it doesn’t mean they are constipated. Most babies will make funny faces when doing a poo. Constipation is when the poo isn’t soft – but comes out in balls, sometimes quite dry. Sometimes the balls are small, sometimes larger; it generally depends on how frequently he is pooing.
Constipation is really distressing for both you and your baby. When your baby passes a hard poo, they can tear the lining of their anus, creating what’s called a ‘fissure’ – or a tear. These can heal slowly so that pooing is painful. If babies and toddlers learn that pooing hurts they can become anxious about it and hold it in. There are lots of things you can do to soften your baby’s poo and try to help them to learn that it’s okay and doesn’t hurt.
Should I worry if my baby’s poo has blood or mucus in it?
Take your baby to the doctor (along with their nappy) if you see any blood or mucus in their poo or stuck to their nappy.
What does it mean if my baby’s poo is really pale?
Very pale poo can be a sign of jaundice, so do ask your doctor or midwife to have a look – keep their nappy so you can show them. In an older baby or toddler, pale poos that float can be a sign of an illness like coeliac disease (where their body produces an antibody to gluten in the gut that results in their gut lining being seriously damaged and unable to digest and absorb food normally).