Baby Poop 101 - Amanda Hilton
Baby Poop 101
Amanda Hilton / February 2019

Baby poop can be so confusing. It can come in more colours than a rainbow! If you’re wondering what is the norm and what requires a call to your paediatrician…. Keep reading.

The appearance of your babies’ poop can vary depending on whether you are breastfeeding or formula feeding. Healthy stools for a newborn breastfed baby should be yellow, seedy and runny whereas healthy stools for a newborn formula fed baby should be thicker and darker. No one loves to examine poop, but it is important to keep an eye on what your babies’ poop looks like because it can tell you more than you think.

Colours of baby poop can range from green to red to black and even white. Not only is it important to check out your babies’ poop (yes, I know, YUCK!) but also keep an eye on babies’ behaviour and mood. The following is a breakdown of the different colours and what they may mean for your baby.

Mustard Yellow – normal for infants (breast and formula fed)

Bright Yellow – could be a result of medication or food eaten by Mom in breastfed babies

Orange – if baby has started on solid foods, orange coloured poop can be a result of eating orange foods like pureed carrots. If baby is EBF (exclusively breastfed), orange poop can be caused by medication mom has been on or artificially coloured foods (orange dyes that have made their way into breast milk). Orange stools are generally not an indicator of something problematic but, if you are worried, call your paediatrician.

Red - breastfed babies may have tiny amounts of blood in their stool if mom has cracks in her nipples, this is not a concern and mom can continue to breastfed while nipples heal. If baby has started solids, red poop may be caused by certain foods (such as beets). Flecks of red are generally not a big deal. It may mean baby is constipated and straining too hard when pooping. Keep an eye on babies’ bowel movement frequency if this is the case. Bloody or bright red stools may indicate an infection, allergy, GI injury or other medical concern and this should be addressed immediately by calling your paediatrician.

Black – newborns will have black tarry stool for the first few days. If stool is still black by day three, it may be a sign baby is not getting enough nutrition or digesting milk properly. If baby in not taking an iron supplement or iron-fortified formula, black stools can be a sign of GI tract bleeding and you would need to call your paediatrician if this is the case.

Grey – If your baby is eating solids, poop may be grey depending on what your child eats. If baby has not started on solids, grey stools can be an indicator of a liver or gallbladder problem and you should speak to your paediatrician.

White – as with grey stools, chalky white poop can be a sign that babies’ liver is not functioning efficiently, and your paediatrician should be notified.

Dark Green – Sometimes the iron in baby formula can cause dark green stools. This is not a reason for concern.

Greenish Tan - Can be seen in babies who are teething or getting over a stomach bug. Greenish tan stools can be normal but if formula fed babies are fussy at feedings, this type of poop can be a sign of a cow’s milk allergy reaction to the formula.

Bright Green – If the stool is bright green and frothy, it could mean that baby is getting too much fore-milk, and not enough fatty hind-milk. Keeping baby on the breast longer can help with this one. Contacting a doula or lactation consultant to assist with breastfeeding can also be helpful.

As a mom of four and a doula, I have seen many colours of poop! Knowing what to be worried about and what is completely normal can help ease your mind when changing an “odd” looking diaper. Keeping a diaper diary can also help. Recording when your baby has a bowel movement, what it looks like, and what your baby had to eat (if they have started solids) can help you to determine if there is a problem and what may be causing it.