Newborn waste and their health

It’s important to monitor your newborn’s diapers. Newborn waste can tell you a lot about their health and if they are consuming enough milk. Dirty diapers can also help assure you that your newborn isn’t dehydrated or constipated.

How often your newborn poops during the first weeks of life depends largely on whether they are breastfeeding or formula-feeding.

Breastfed newborns typically have several bowel movements each day. Formula-fed newborns may have fewer. If you switch from breastfeeding to formula-feeding, or vice versa, expect changes to your newborn’s stool consistency.

There also may be a change in the frequency of diaper changes. Your baby may have an average of five to six wet (urine-filled) diapers each day during this time.

Read on to learn more about what to expect and when to call your baby’s pediatrician.

Dirty diaper by age

A newborn will pass meconium, a black, sticky, tar-like substance in the first few days after birth. After about three days, newborn bowel movements turn into a lighter, runnier stool. It may be light brown, yellow, or yellow-green in color.

Days 1-3First 6 weeksAfter starting solids
BreastfedNewborn will pass meconium by 24-48 hours after birth. It will change to a green-yellow color by day 4.Runny, yellow stool. Expect at least 3 bowel movements per day, but may be up to 4-12 for some babies. After this, baby may only poop every few days.Baby will usually pass more stool after starting solids.
Formula-fedNewborn will pass meconium by 24-48 hours after birth. It will change to a green-yellow color by day 4.Light brown or greenish stool. Expect at least 1-4 bowel movements per day. After the first month, baby may only pass stool every other day.1-2 stools per day.

Stool consistency in breastfed vs. formula-fed babies

Breastfed babies may pass seedy, loose stools. The stool may look like mustard in color and texture.

Breastfed babies may also have a looser, runnier stool. That isn’t a bad sign. It means your baby is absorbing the solids in your breast milk.

Formula-fed babies may pass a yellow-green or light brown stool. Their bowel movements may be firmer and more paste-like than a breastfed baby’s stool. However, the stool shouldn’t be firmer than the consistency of peanut butter.

Causes for changes to stool

You will likely notice a change to your newborn’s stool as they grow. You also may see a difference if their diet changes in any way.

For example, switching from breastmilk to formula or changing the type of formula you give your baby can lead to changes in stool amount, consistency, and color.

As your baby starts eating solids, you may see small pieces of food in their stool. These changes in diet may also alter the number of times your baby poops per day.

Always talk to your newborn’s pediatrician if you are concerned about a change in your baby’s stools.

When to seek help

See your newborn’s pediatrician or seek medical help right away if you notice the following in a diaper:

  • maroon or bloody stools
  • black stools after your baby has already passed meconium (usually after day four)
  • white or grey stools
  • more stool per day than is normal for your baby
  • stool with a large amount of mucus or water

Your newborn may experience diarrhea or explosive diarrhea in the first few months of life. It may be a symptom of a virus or bacteria. Let your pediatrician know. Dehydration is a common problem that accompanies diarrhea.

While uncommon in the newborn period, particularly with breastfeeding, your baby may be constipated if they are experiencing hard stools or having trouble passing stool.

If this happens, call their pediatrician. The pediatrician will recommend some things you can do to help. Apple or prune juice is sometimes suggested, but never give your newborn baby juice without a doctor’s recommendation first.

Seeking help for breastfed babies

If your breastfed newborn isn’t passing stool, it may be a sign they aren’t eating enough. See your pediatrician or a lactation consultant. They may need to check your latch and position.

Let your pediatrician know if you notice consistently bright green or neon green stool. While this is often normal, it may be because of a breast milk imbalance or sensitivity to something in your diet.

It may also be a symptom of a virus. Your doctor will best be able to diagnose the problem.


Your newborn’s stool is an important window into their health for the first few months of life. You may notice several changes in their stool during this time. This is usually normal and a healthy sign of growth and development.

Your pediatrician will likely ask about your child’s diapers at each appointment. Use your pediatrician as a resource. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or raise concerns you have about your newborn’s stool.