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What should baby poop look like?
Most new parents find baby poop quite surprising! It has so many shades and consistencies that even experienced parents may not have seen them all.
This photo guide to baby poop will give you a good idea of what's normal and what's not as your newborn grows, drinks breast milk or formula, and starts eating solids. You'll find out when not to worry and when it's wise to be concerned.
Black, red, or white poop warrants an immediate call to the doctor. And don't hesitate to call with any questions about bowel movements, especially when you have a newborn.
Fair warning: These are pictures of real baby poop! Please view only if you're comfortable with that. If not, you can read this description without photos instead, or watch this animated video.
Newborn poop (meconium)
Expect to find a greenish-black, tarry, sticky poop that looks like motor oil in your newborn's diaper. Since meconium is made of amniotic fluid, mucus, skin cells, and other stuff ingested in utero, it doesn't really smell – so you may not realize it's time for a diaper change.
When your baby is 2 to 4 days old, his poop will become lighter in color – sort of an army green – and less sticky. This so-called transitional stool is a sign that he's started digesting early breast milk or formula and that his intestinal tract is A-okay.
Healthy breastfed poop
If your baby is exclusively breastfed, her poop will be yellow or slightly green and have a mushy or creamy consistency. It may be runny enough to resemble diarrhea. Breastfed poop typically looks like Dijon mustard and cottage cheese mixed together and may be dotted with little seed-like flecks. Interestingly, its smell isn't half bad.
There are many shades of normal when it comes to breastfed poop. One you might see is a greener hue, which could signify that you ate something different than you normally do. If your baby isn't experiencing any other symptoms, there's no need to worry.
If you see bright green and frothy poop in your baby's diaper, almost like algae, she's probably getting too much foremilk – the low-calorie milk that comes first in a feeding – and not enough hindmilk, the higher-fat, super-nutritious stuff. It could mean that you're not feeding her long enough on each breast. To remedy this, start each feeding on the breast you ended on.
Healthy formula-fed poop
Formula-fed babies have pasty, peanut butter-like poop on the brown color spectrum: tan-brown, yellow-brown, or green-brown. It's more pungent than poop from breastfed babies and a little less pungent than poop from babies who are eating solid food, but you'll recognize the smell.
If you give your baby an iron supplement, his poop may turn dark green or almost black. This doesn't happen often, but it's a completely normal variation that would make Popeye proud.
One thing: If your baby's poop looks blackish and he's not taking an iron supplement, it's a good idea to call the doctor to make sure it's not melena, or digested blood.
Once you start changing your baby's input to solid foods – infant cereal, pureed bananas, and so on – you'll almost instantly notice a change in her output, especially if she's breastfed.
Solid-food poop tends to be brown or dark brown and thicker than peanut butter, but still mushy. It's also smellier.
Poop with partially digested food
Occasionally your baby's poop will have identifiable chunks of food in it or be tinged with a surprising hue of the rainbow, like red, orange, or dark blue. Red could mean beets, orange suggests carrots, and dark blue implies blueberries (you may see pieces of blueberry skin in there, too).
Not to worry! You're probably seeing this because certain foods are only partially digestible or travel so quickly through the intestines that they don't have time to completely break down. It also happens when your baby eats a lot of one type of food or doesn't chew a mouthful completely before he swallows.
The time to call the doctor is if your baby's poop consistently has undigested food in it. The doctor will check to make sure your baby's intestines are absorbing food and nutrients properly.
In babies, diarrhea is very runny and appears to be made up of water more than solids. It can be yellow, green, or brown and can seep or "explode" out of the diaper.
Diarrhea can be a sign of an infection or allergy, and if it lasts for a while without being treated, can lead to dehydration. Call the doctor if your baby is 3 months old or younger, has more than two or three diarrhea-filled diapers, or continues having diarrhea for more than a day or two.
It's also wise to call the doctor if your baby's diarrhea contains visible blood or mucus.
If your baby's poop is hard and looks like little pebbles, she's probably constipated. Your baby may be visibly uncomfortable when she's pooping, and the poop may even be tinged with blood from irritating the anus on the way out.
One or two pebbly diapers isn't a concern, but if your baby has three or more (or if you see blood), it's best to call the doctor. Constipation often happens in babies who are being introduced to solid foods, or it can be a sign of milk or soy protein sensitivity or a lack of tolerance to something in breast milk or formula. Your doctor may recommend giving your baby water, pear juice, or prune juice to help move things along.
Poop with mucus
Does your baby's diaper look like it's been slimed? Greenish poop streaked with shiny, glistening strings means there's mucus in it. This sometimes happens when a baby is especially drooly, since mucus in saliva often goes undigested.
But mucus in poop is also a telltale sign of an infection or allergy. If it's accompanied by any other symptoms or shows up in your baby's diaper for two days or more, call the doctor to rule out any problems.
Sometimes the blood in a baby's poop is bright red, and sometimes it's black (which means it's been digested).
Bright red blood can show up in baby poop for a few different reasons. Call your doctor if you notice:
- Normal poop tinged with red blood, which is often a sign of a milk protein allergy (pictured).
- Constipated poop with a hint of red blood, likely a result of tears in the anus or tiny hemorrhoids.
- Diarrhea mixed with red blood, which can indicate a bacterial infection.
When black blood appears in a baby's diaper – usually in little flecks that look like black poppy or sesame seeds – it's often because the baby is breastfed and swallowing blood from Mom's cracked and bleeding nipples. While this is a sign that you need some pain relief, it doesn't pose a threat to your baby. Still, you should call the doctor to make sure it's not something more serious, like bleeding from your baby's intestines.
Want to learn more? Check out our baby poop page or visit our Community to compare notes with other parents on this topic.
Thanks very much to the our site parents (and their babies!) who contributed to this slide show.