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What Should My Baby’s Poop Look Like?

What Should My Baby’s Poop Look Like?

Posted by Diane, MPH, RD, LD - Director of Nutrition Services on May 28th 2019

Baby poop: what is normal and what isn't?

New moms and dads are often puzzled by what their baby’s poop should look like: what is normal baby poop and when is baby poop not normal? Many parents have questions about the consistency of baby poop and what color is normal. In general, the answer to questions about baby poop will often depend on what your baby is being fed.

Stool consistency varies depending upon what your baby is fed.

The stools of breastfed babies are usually softer when compared to those of formula fed babies1. Even when the baby is formula fed, the type of formula may cause differences in stool consistency. Whey-based formulas tend to produce slightly softer stools than non-fat milk or casein-based formulas.2-4

What should my baby’s poop look like?

When a formula is well tolerated, stools will look like soft little sausages.Hard or pellet size stools may indicate constipation. In that case, it is important to call to your baby’s healthcare provider to make sure that your baby is doing okay. Especially in hot climates, your baby may be a bit dehydrated and needs a little more fluideach day. In those circumstances, about one to two ounces of water between feedings may resolve the issue. Check with your child’s healthcare provider. Then, check out this article on tips to further identify constipation in your child plus strategies for how to alleviate your child’s constipation.

Very loose or very watery stools may indicate diarrhea. This is also an important moment to call your baby’s healthcare provider, as diarrhea can often be a sign of illness or infection, and if it is not closely monitored, it could lead to dehydration. Diarrhea may alternatively be a sign of lactose intolerance, requiring the need for a lactose-free formula like Baby’s Only® Organic Sensitive with Organic DHA & ARA Formula. Potentially, diarrhea may be a sign that your child is not tolerating a dairy-based formula. Again, check in with your child’s healthcare provider to determine the cause for the concern.

How can I tell if my baby is not tolerating a formula based upon his or her poop?

Along with diarrhea, blood or mucus in your baby’s poop can be a sign of an intolerance to a formula. Other signs of formula intolerance may include trouble gaining weight, vomiting, frequent spitting up, skin rashes, or abdominal pain. In these scenarios, it is possible that your baby is not tolerating the formula and may have an intolerance or allergy to milk proteins.

If that is the case,  Baby’s Only® Organic Plant Based Pea Protein Formula or a specialized protein hydrolyzed formula may be needed. Protein hydrolyzed formulas are made by breaking down milk proteins into smaller protein pieces called amino acids and peptides. Currently, there are no protein hydrolyzed formulas on the market that are certified organic. If a cow’s milk protein allergy or intolerance is suspected, always check with your baby’s healthcare provider to determine what type of formula should be used.

What color should my baby’s poop be?

The color of your baby’s poop will change over time. During the first few days of life, poop may be greenish-black, and this is normal. After the first few days, breastfed babies’ stools will normally then be mustard yellow in color. Formula fed babies will usually have stools that are tan to light brown in color, with hints of light green. Once your baby starts on solid foods, stool color will change to a darker brown and you will likely notice a change in stool texture as well.

White, red, or black stools warrant an immediate call to your baby’s healthcare provider as these are not normal. These could indicate constipation, intolerance to a formula, or some intestinal bleeding.

Is it normal to see changes in my baby’s poop when transitioning between formulas, or transitioning from breastmilk to formula?

Yes, it can be normal to see changes in your baby’s stool color, consistency, odor, and frequency when you transition between formulas or from breastmilk to formula. It can also be normal to see changes in your baby’s stool patterns when solid foods or purees are introduced. Frequently during formula transition periods, parents describe that their child has firmer stools or constipation.5 This may simply be that the child’s developing digestive tract is becoming used to the new formula.

Where can I find more resources on baby poop?

This visual guide shows you appropriate and problem stool colors, and this article from the American Academy of Pediatrics further explains the colors of baby poop. And be sure to check out the articles written by the dietitians at Nature’s One!

Well, that’s the scoop on poop! As always, remember that your child’s healthcare professional is in the best position to provide medical and nutrition advice. Listen to your gut: if you feel that something isn’t right with your baby’s poop, give your child’s healthcare professional a call.

References:

  1. Quinlan PT, Lockton S, Irwin J, Lucas AL. The relationship between stool hardness and stool composition in breast- and formula-fed infants. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 1995 Jan;20(1):81-90. doi: 10.1097/00005176-199501000-00014. PMID: 7884622.
  2. Malacaman EE, Abbousy FK, Crooke D, Nauyok G.  Effects of protein source and iron content of infant formula on stool characteristics.  Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition.  1985; 4:771-773.
  3. Rochat F, Cherbut C, Barclay D, et al.  A whey-predominant formula induces fecal microbiota similar to that found in breast-fed infants.  Nutrition Research.  2007; 27:735-740.
  4. Balmer SE, Scott PH, Wharton BA.  Diet and faecal flora in the newborn: casein and whey proteins.  Archives of Disease in Childhood.  1990; 64:1678-1684.
  5. Morley R, Abbott RA, Lucas A. Infant feeding and maternal concerns about stool hardness. Chil Care Health Dev. 1997; 23:475-478.

**For specific medical care and nutritional advice on product usage, please see your healthcare professional