Baby poop can come in many shades, including orange, yellow, tan, or brown. The color and texture may provide hints to your baby’s diet or health. See a doctor if their poop is white or grey.
Poop color can be one way to learn about your baby’s health. Your little one will go through a variety of poop colors, especially during the first year of life, as their diet changes.
It’s important to understand that what’s typical 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.
|Baby’s diet||Is it typical?|
|Black||breast milk or formula||This is expected in the first few days of life. It’s not typical if it comes back later in infancy, though.|
|Mustard “seedy” yellow||breast milk||This is typical.|
|Bright yellow||breast milk||If it’s overly runny, it could be a sign of diarrhea.|
|Orange||breast milk or formula||This is typical.|
|Red||any diet||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||formula||This is typical.|
|Dark green||diet includes green-colored solids or iron supplements||This is expected.|
|White||any diet||This may indicate trouble with the liver, so call your child’s pediatrician.|
|Gray||any diet||This may be a sign of a digestive concern, so call your child’s pediatrician.|
|Brown||any diet||This is typical.|
While your baby may have different poop colors during infancy, it’s important to know what’s considered “normal” and when you should call your child’s pediatrician.
Below is a breakdown of all the possible changes you may see in your baby’s stool, what these might mean, and how long they may last.
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 should not 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 or chestfed babies.
It’s typical to see bright yellow poop in breastfed or chestfed (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, among other causes, which should be addressed by a pediatrician.
It’s a good idea to call your child’s 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 usual color before calling your pediatrician. But don’t wait to see if your baby experiences other symptoms like vomiting or stomach pain before calling the doctor
Formula-fed babies may have poop that’s a combination of greenish tan and yellow. Their poop is also firmer than that of a breastfed or chestfed 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 concern. 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 child’s 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 alone can’t.
Newborn poop consistency
Newborn poop has a thick, tar-like consistency. This is standard, and both the color and texture of a newborn’s poop will change within the first couple of days of life.
Talk with your child’s 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.
Breastfed or chestfed consistency
Babies fed breast milk have looser stools that may contain seed-like substances. This doesn’t necessarily mean that your baby has diarrhea.
They may have also more bowel movements more frequently because breast milk is digested faster. This is also not considered 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.
Weaning stage consistency
The weaning stage is a transitional phase when you move from solely nursing to feeding baby other types of fluids and solid foods. During this phase, your baby’s poop may become more firm. You may also notice stronger-smelling stools as well.
After introducing solids
Once you’ve introduced solid foods to your baby’s diet, their poop will start to bulk up like typical adult poop.
Extremely hard poop that’s difficult to pass could mean 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. But speak with your child’s pediatrician before trying home remedies to relieve baby’s constipation.
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, 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.
The presence of mucus in the stool is standard 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 or other trouble in your baby’s intestines.
As a rule of thumb, you should call your pediatrician if your baby is older than a few days, is 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 nursing 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.
It’s OK if your baby doesn’t pass stool every day. This does not necessarily mean there’s a concern. A newborn can have few bowel movements early on.
If you’re breastfeeding or chestfeeding, your baby may poop only once per week when they get to the 3- to 6-week mark. If your baby is formula-fed, then you should see bowel movements occurring around once per 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 expected during your baby’s first year of life. But it’s also important to monitor these changes in case you need to call your child’s pediatrician.
The color of baby poop shifts for various reasons. Feeding and age can also affect the overall color and consistency.
If you’re ever concerned about your baby’s bowel movements, call your child’s 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 they are dehydrated. See your child’s pediatrician if you suspect your baby’s dehydrated.
Other symptoms of dehydration in a baby include:
- fewer than six wet diapers a day, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics
- 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 child’s pediatrician.