Poo comes in all colours, shapes, sizes and stinkiness. What’s normal can look different from one day to the next. And what your baby is being fed — breastmilk, formula milk or solid foods — is going to make a difference too. You can expect things to look different again if they’re ill. Grab a notepad and pen, it’s time to get to know what’s normal and what’s not.
THE FIRST POO
It’s greenish-black, very sticky and can happen during birth or in the 48 hours that follow. Of course, baby hasn’t eaten anything yet, so it isn’t going to be your typical poo. It’s called meconium and is made up of things your baby has digested while they were in the womb. Once this tar-like stuff appears, it’s a good sign that your baby’s bowels are working properly. Interesting fact: it’s completely odourless because bacteria is still yet to form in your baby’s gut. This all changes from their first feed.
Expect yellow or mustard coloured poo in the first few days — very different from the meconium. It’ll be runny and loose; while this might be reminiscent of diarrhoea, the chances are it’s normal unless it’s happening unusually frequently. The poo should smell slightly sweet due to the compounds of your breastmilk. That’s not what you expected to hear, is it? At first, your baby will probably poo four times a day; after three weeks, it can drop down to as little as once every few days.
Formula-fed baby poo is firmer, browner and much smellier than that of breastfed babies. It will have a more solid, paste-like consistency. Depending on the formula you’re using, the poo can also appear dark green. Switching from breastmilk to formula milk? Expect your baby’s poo to become darker and more solid. If possible, make the transition gradual to give your baby’s digestive system the time to adapt.
MOVING ONTO SOLID FOODS
In terms of consistency and thickness, your baby’s poo is going to be more adult-like once they start eating solid foods. Foods that are tough to digest may pass straight through your baby’s digestive system while their body is still learning about the various food groups. Does their poo have an orange hue? This could be down to the carrot pure they had at lunch. Other foods can affect the colour of your baby’s poo as well.
WHAT ISN’T NORMAL?
RED OR BLACK POO
If your baby has just eaten beetroot, this may be why the poo is red. However black or red poo, especially after the first few days, can be a sign of blood. If poo is hard, dry or streaked with blood, this can be a sign of constipation. Finding blood in their poo may also mean something more serious, so always take your baby to the GP if this is the case.
Pale poo can be an indicator of digestion or liver problems. Always speak to your midwife, GP or health visitor about this or any other changes in your baby’s poo that you’re concerned about.