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The Scoop on Newborn Poop

Your baby's poop and other diaper surprises

One of the first things you'll learn about baby poop is that you'll focus on it a lot. Suddenly, you'll find yourself on poop patrol, checking diapers often and being surprised by the color, consistency and amount of poop your little one may or may not make. So here are some things you need to know about what you can expect to find in your baby's diaper.

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Baby's First BM

Many parents are surprised by the look of their baby's first bowel movement. The very first bowel movement actually has a medical name, meconium, which is made up of amniotic fluid, skin cells and little bits of hair that your baby has shed. The stool is dark greenish black and will be thick and tarry. It can also be very sticky. By about 3 or 4 days after birth your baby's poop will become more of a greenish yellow color.

Color and Consistency

If you're breastfeeding, your baby's poop might look more like a seeded French mustard with a name that sounds a lot like what you'll find in the diaper. If you're formula feeding, your baby's stool (poop) may be more of a greenish yellow color with a paste-like consistency. In general, your baby's poop should be somewhere in the green, yellow, or brown range – and that's a pretty wide range.

How Often Should My Baby Poop?

How often your baby poops will vary almost as much as color. Breastfed babies usually have fewer bowel movements and many may go a few days without pooping, although, some babies go after each feeding. Formula fed babies average about 1 to 4 bowel movements per day.

Fortunately, after a few days of poop patrol, you'll start to recognize what's normal for your baby. Keep in mind that what's normal for your baby may be very different from your friends' babies.

There are many varieties of normal stool but if you are concerned about your newborn's poop, call your pediatrician.

Things to Look For

Your baby's diapers are excellent indicators of whether your baby is getting what he or she needs. The more your baby nurses, the more dirty (or "soiled") diapers he or she will have.

In general, babies will have wet and dirty diapers about six to eight times per day in the first week. However, there can be a lot of variability in this. Babies can poop every time they feed or just once a week and still be normal.

You should check with your pediatrician if your baby is having hard stools or has a lot of swelling of their belly. This can be a sign of constipation and you should consult your pediatrician since how it's cared for will depend on the cause and the age of your baby.

In newborns, straining, turning red and pushing with all their strength is typically normal in newborns and not necessarily a sign of constipation. Babies are learning what muscles to push with to get the stool out. After all, just like feeding, pooping is a whole new thing for your baby.

You should also alert your pediatrician if your newborn develops stool with the following colors:

  • White – may be a sign that your baby's liver isn't functioning properly
  • Gray – could signal a liver or gallbladder issue
  • Black – after your baby is 3 days old, black stool can suggest that your baby isn't getting enough nutrition or a problem in the gastrointestinal tract. Of course, it could also mean that your baby is getting lots of healthy iron in his or her diet.
  • Red – flecks of red may indicate that your nipples are cracked and baby is swallowing small amounts blood, which isn't a cause for concern (though you may want to talk with a lactation specialist for your own comfort). It can also be a sign that your baby is constipated or may have a medical concern.

If you discover any of these colors, check with you pediatrician. She orhe may want you to bring in a soiled diaper for examination.

Other things that can alter the color of your breastfed baby's poop can come from what you eat or drink or any medication you may be taking.

The six or more diapers per day your baby uses should also be wet with clear or very pale urine. Fewer diapers or darker urine may mean your baby's not getting enough to drink. If you see orange crystals in a wet diaper, contact your baby's doctor. They're common in healthy, well-fed babies and usually not a cause for concern, but sometimes can be a sign that a baby isn't getting enough fluids.

If you have concerns about what you do—and don't—find in your baby's diaper, speak to your pediatrician.

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