Your New Baby’s Bowel Movements, Decoded

baby in diapers

As a new mom, I obsessed over the contents of my new baby’s diapers. I know it may sound strange, but it really became a high topic of interest! Was it a “healthy poo” or was it too watery? Why was it green -- is that normal? And believe it or not, I wasn’t alone; the color and consistency of infant bowel movements can be rather shocking for any new mom, but I learned that most of the strange colors and consistencies are completely normal.

My new baby’s first poop, called meconium, arrived just after birth. The tar-like, greenish-black substance is perfectly normal— it’s the last bit of food babies take in while in utero—and will last for two to three days.

A breastfed baby will produce lovely shades of yellow, including mustard, greenish-yellow, and brownish-yellow. This stool may appear to have seeds in it, is usually on the runny side, and doesn’t have much of an odor. Prepare yourself for a poop after nearly every feeding!

A formula-fed new baby will fill her diaper with a darker yellow to green-hued poo. This stool won’t be as frequent, arriving about three to four times a day, though it does tend to be more solid and have a stronger smell than a breastfed baby’s poop. Bowel movements for both formula and breastfed babies will decrease in frequency around 4 months to just a couple of times a day.

When my new baby started solids, I found every shade in her diaper. Her bowel movements took on the color of what she recently consumed (sweet potatoes at dinner made for an orange diaper, while peas turned it green, for example). Eating real food also transformed her stool to the browner, firm, stinky kind.

As my baby moved from purees to solid fare, her stool changed as well. I saw actual pieces of undigested food in the poo, like bits of pasta, carrots, and even whole peas!

My new baby’s dirty diapers were not the most appealing sight, but giving them a quick peek before I threw them out helped me know whether her bowel movements were healthy and regular. 

Photo by Katie Smith on Unsplash

by Jennifer Kelly Geddes