Infant ready for a diaper change.

The topic of poop is never as top of mind (or as important!) as when you’re a new parent. Understanding your baby’s pooping habits, including frequency, color and consistency, is one of the best ways to ensure that your little one is healthy and well-nourished.

Here’s what to expect and watch out for on diaper duty during the newborn days.

What is Meconium?

Your newborn’s first few bowel movements will be black (or very dark green), thick and “tarry” in consistency. Called meconium, these first dirty diapers are made up of things ingested while still in the uterus, (amniotic fluid, lanugo, mucus, etc.). Your baby should have his or her first bowel movement within 24 hours of birth.

How Often Should My Newborn Poop?

As your baby’s eating and pooping patterns are established, the frequency of poopy diapers can vary widely. Some newborns poop several times a day (generally breastfed babies poop more often), while others poop every few days. After several weeks of life, some babies’ pooping frequency begins to slow—as long as the stool is soft and your baby is eating consistently, there’s no reason for concern.

Keeping track of the frequency of baby’s wet and dirty diapers (and ensuring they’re passing stool consistently at their own rate) can help you to know if their “normal” is, in fact, healthy and normal. Your child’s pediatrician will ask about poop habits during baby’s checkups, too!

What Poop Colors are Normal?

After the first black bowel movements are cleared out, the color of your newborn’s dirty diapers can vary greatly in color—yellows, browns, and greens are all normal hues. Generally breastfed babies’ poop is a mustardy yellow color (sometimes appearing seedy due to undigested milk fat—don’t be alarmed!), while formula-fed babies’ diapers are yellow-tan with hints of green. 

Of course, as your baby gets older and you begin to add solids into their diet, poop colors and consistency will begin to change again. 

When Should I Be Concerned about My Baby’s Poop?

You should contact your baby’s provider if any of the following occur:

  • Your baby’s poop becomes increasingly more watery, or your baby is pooping more often than you’re feeding them
  • Your infant is having dramatically fewer dirty diapers than before, or if the stool is hard or they strain to pass stool (which could indicate constipation)
  • You notice red in their poop (particularly if they haven’t eaten anything red-colored)
  • Your baby passes black-colored stool (after the initial meconium), which could mean there is old blood present
  • White or gray-colored poop, while rare, could indicate an underlying liver problem