Credits: Illustrations by Brittany England
Baby poop color can be one indicator of your baby’s health. Your baby will go through a variety of poop colors, especially during the first year of life as their diet changes. It’s also important to understand that what’s normal for adult poop doesn’t necessarily apply to baby poop. This includes color and texture.
Below are the most common poop colors you may see and why.
|Color||Diet||Is it normal?|
|Black||Seen in breastfed and formula-fed newborns||This is normal in the first few days of life. May not be normal if it comes back later in infancy.|
|Mustard yellow||Seen in breastfed babies||This is normal.|
|Bright yellow||Seen in breastfed babies||If it’s overly runny, it could be a sign of diarrhea.|
|Orange||Seen in breastfed and formula-fed babies||This is normal.|
|Red||Seen in babies on any diet; may be caused by introducing red solids or could indicate something else||If you haven’t recently introduced red foods to your baby, call your pediatrician. If they’ve eaten a red solid, see if the color returns to normal when they pass the next stool. If not, call your pediatrician.|
|Greenish tan||Seen in formula-fed babies||This is normal.|
|Dark green||Seen in babies eating green-colored solids or taking iron supplements||This is normal.|
|White||Seen in babies on any diet and may indicate a problem with the liver||Call your pediatrician.|
|Gray||Seen in babies on any diet and is a sign of a digestion issue||Call your pediatrician.|
A newborn’s first stool is likely to be black with a tar-like consistency. This is called meconium, and it contains mucus, skin cells, and amniotic fluid. Black stool shouldn’t last more than a couple of days.
Once the meconium passes, a newborn’s stool may be a mustard-yellow color. This color of stool is also most common in breastfed babies.
It’s normal to see bright-yellow poop in breastfed (and sometimes formula-fed) babies. Bright-yellow poop that’s much more frequent than usual and extremely runny, though, could be diarrhea. Diarrhea can increase the risk for dehydration.
Orange poop occurs from pigments picked up in your baby’s digestive tract. It can occur in both breastfed and formula-fed babies.
Sometimes your baby’s poop can also turn red from dark-red foods and drinks they have consumed, such as tomato juice or beets. Red poop could also mean there’s blood in your baby’s bowel movements from an intestinal infection that should be addressed by a pediatrician.
It’s a good idea to call your pediatrician if your baby has red stool. If they’ve recently eaten red food, you may consider waiting to see if the next stool returns to its normal color before calling your pediatrician.
Formula-fed babies may have poop that’s a combination of greenish tan and yellow. The poop is also firmer than that of a breastfed baby.
Dark-green poop is most common in babies who are starting solid foods that are green in color, such as spinach and peas. Iron supplements can also cause your baby’s poop to turn green.
White poop can indicate that your baby isn’t producing enough bile in their liver to help them digest food properly. This is a serious problem. White poop at any stage should be addressed by a pediatrician.
Like white poop, baby stools that are gray in color can mean your baby isn’t digesting food as they should. Call your pediatrician if your baby has poop that’s gray or a chalky consistency.
Color can indicate quite a bit about your baby’s poop, but it’s also important to consider texture. The combination can tell you a lot about your baby’s health that color can’t do alone.
Newborn poop consistency
Newborn poop has a thick, tar-like consistency. This is normal, and both the color and texture of a newborn’s poop will change within the first couple of days of life. Talk to your pediatrician if your baby’s poop hasn’t changed to being looser and yellow within a few days of birth. This can be a sign they aren’t getting enough milk.
Babies fed breast milk have looser stools that may contain seed-like substances. This doesn’t necessarily mean that your baby has diarrhea.
Formula-fed babies tend to have firmer poop that’s tan to brown in color with some green and yellow. Your baby may be constipated if they strain during bowel movements and have infrequent, hard stools.
After introducing solids
Once you’ve introduced solid foods to your baby’s diet, their poop will start to bulk up like normal adult poop.
Extremely hard poop that’s difficult to pass could indicate constipation. Small, pebble-like drops that are dark brown in color are also a sign of this. If your baby is constipated, these remedies may help.
Diarrhea in a baby consists of loose, watery stools that occur more than once every feeding. It can be difficult to pinpoint diarrhea in a young infant because their bowel movements are naturally looser than babies who are on solid foods.
Mucus or frothy stool
A mucus-like or frothy texture can sometimes occur when your baby is drooling from teething, and then subsequently swallows their drool.
If you see this texture in your baby’s stool and they’re not drooling, it could be caused by an infection that requires pediatric treatment.
What if you see mucus in stool?
The presence of mucus in the stool is normal in newborns as they pass meconium. It’s also seen in babies who swallow their drool. However, mucus can also be caused by a bacterial infection in your baby’s intestines.
As a rule of thumb, you should call your pediatrician if your baby is older than a few days and not drooling, and has persistent mucus in their stool.
Blood may be present in a baby’s stool from straining during constipation. It could also be a sign of an infection, which warrants a call to the pediatrician.
Small amounts of blood are sometimes ingested during breastfeeding if your nipples are cracked. This appears as specks of black or dark red in your baby’s poop.
Once your baby starts solids, you might notice food pieces appearing in their poop. This is because some foods aren’t digestible and will quickly pass through your baby’s system.
If your baby doesn’t pass stool every day, this doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a problem. A newborn can have few bowel movements early on.
If you’re breastfeeding, then your baby may only poop once a week when they get to the three- to six-week mark. If your baby is formula-fed, then you should see bowel movements occurring at least once a day. Anything less than this could indicate constipation, though some formula-fed babies don’t poop every day, either.
Your baby will likely have a daily bowel movement once they’re on solids. Pooping more than once after each feeding at any stage could indicate diarrhea.
Know that changes in color, and even consistency, are normal during your baby’s first year of life. But it’s also important to monitor these changes in case you need to call your pediatrician.
Baby poop fluctuates in color. Feeding and age can also affect the overall color and consistency. If you’re ever concerned about your baby’s bowel movements, call your pediatrician for advice. You should also take your baby to the pediatrician if they have diarrhea accompanied by a fever.
Extremely hard and dry stools are usually a sign of constipation. But if your baby is vomiting or otherwise ill, it may be a sign that your baby is dehydrated. See your pediatrician if you suspect your baby’s dehydrated. Other symptoms of dehydration in a baby include:
- fewer than six wet diapers a day
- mood that’s less playful than usual
- crying without tears
- excessive fatigue
- skin that changes in color or has a wrinkled appearance
- sunken soft spot on the head
- sunken eyes
Monitoring your baby’s stool can be a useful way to identify health problems that your baby can’t otherwise tell you about. If you ever have any concerns, don’t hesitate to call your pediatrician.