I get a lot of questions around baby poop, gas and tummy issues.
As a lactation consultant, it's within my scope to discuss these things with you but it is not within my scope to diagnose or provide direct treatment. I can give recommendations, referrals, resources and education around these topics which is what I do on a consult and what we will do today!
Baby Poop Color: What Does It Mean?
When it comes to assessing potential health issues, a pediatrician often checks baby’s poop color. Before you panic, remember that what goes in must come out—especially for babies who are beginning to eat table food. If baby has beets for lunch, you’re probably going to see red in a few hours.
If you do spot something unusual, bag up the diaper and bring it along to your appointment—it can help a doctor make an assessment.
From green baby poop to red, orange, black and beyond, here’s what each baby poop color could mean:
Day 1 - 2
Typical color of a stool on days 1-2 of life (meconium) is Black, tarry and sticky.
Y'all remember the first Jurassic Park movie? Think of that stuff that those dinosaurs with the wing thing around their neck and head spit out on them and it was black. That's a baby's first poop. This is expected in the first few days of life. It’s not typical if it comes back later in infancy, though.
Day 2 - 3
Typical color of transitioning stool, is expected by days 2-3 of life. This is usually a greenish-brownish-darkish color. Think of murky swamp water.
Day 3 - 4
Typical color of mature breastmilk stool is expected by days 3-4 of life. This is yellow, maybe yellow orangish, seedy and curdy with varying shades of yellow but mostly mustard yellow.
Red - This may be from introducing red solids into your baby’s diet or from something else, such as blood. If they’ve eaten a red solid, see if their next stool returns to its usual color. If not or if you haven’t recently introduced red solids, call their pediatrician.
Greenish Tan - This is typical for formula fed babies.
Dark green includes green-colored solids or iron supplements. This is expected.
White - This may indicate trouble with the liver, so call your child’s pediatrician.
Gray - This may be a sign of a digestive concern, so call your child’s pediatrician.
Brown - This is typical
If it’s overly runny, it could be a sign of diarrhea.
Blood in stool is either an allergy or anal fissure (tear) in the bum. Seek professional medical help.
Mucus - if it persists for more than 2-3 days with no drooling from baby, you should seek medical attention.
Gas - See my blog on it...gas is common, normal and all babies are gassy. It is unavoidable but it is treatable. There are some foods that are more gassy than others, but this will not always make your breastmilk be the reason for gas in baby. Formula makes baby's quite gassy too because it is difficult to digest.
Some people like colic drops or gripe water, and for some cultures even chamomile tea, but these are all herbal remedies and may not all be safe for your baby. Consult with your pediatrician before you offer them to your baby, even if you can get it at Target or Amazon.
Constipation - Ask your pediatrician for remedies that are safe. Many people like the Windi by Frida Baby. I recommend increasing breastmilk intake or switching formula brands. I don't recommend coconut water, prune or apple juice or even water for babies under 6 months old as it is hard for them to process those things and they have a lot of sugar in them. Use these with caution and know the side effects, it can make baby more constipated.
My go to remedies
For baby gas, colic, constipation or tummy issues is daily infant probiotics. Klaire Labs, Evivo, Culturelle, BioGaia, Baby's Bliss, Organic Wellements are a few I recommend to my families. Additionally, baby+mommy yoga, infant chiropractic and infant massage or daily body movements like rowing legs and circles with hips/legs are all extremely helpful holistic, safe and non-invasive treatment options that I often recommend.
How often should a breastfed baby poop?
Is your breastfed baby not pooping? Don’t panic. Because breast milk is digested differently than formula, it’s not unusual for a breastfed baby to pee regularly (creating 6 to 8 wet diapers a day) but not poop for several days. It’s common for a breastfed baby to go 2 or 3 days without pooping, and it’s possible for them to go up to 7 days. If your baby seems happy and content with a soft belly, they’re likely OK. But if their belly feels rigid, stiff, hard or baby seems uncomfortable, it could be a sign they’re constipated.
How often should a formula-fed baby poop?
Formula-fed babies tend to have poop that’s a bit darker and firmer than breastfed baby poop. Their poop may be the consistency of hummus and color can range from yellow to greenish-brown or tan. Formula-fed babies will likely poop at least once a day; if they don’t poop for 2 or more days, it could mean constipation. Equally important is the consistency of baby’s poop. Log or pellet-like shapes could indicate constipation. It’s important to address this with your pediatrician, since constipation could mean an allergy or be a sign that it’s time to try another brand of baby formula.
If you are offering solids, constipation is common as they adjust. Poop will change a lot with solid food intake. It is not advisable to start solids until your baby is 6 months and sitting up unassisted without falling over. This is due to choking hazards as well as digestion. The digestive system is not mature enough before 6 months and it may slow it down a lot with introduction of solids. This could make your baby a little fussy if their tummy isn't ready for solids. They may also go one or several days without pooping. Monitor any changes and contact your pediatrician if you are worried. Let your pediatrician and lactation consultant know you are starting solids if it is before the recommended time.
Lastly, one of my all time favorite resources for parents on this topic is this infographic created by The Bump. I love it and mention it to many of my clients so I thought my blog would be a nice place to share it as well: