Ah, the evolution of baby poop. It starts out small, cute and totally manageable. Then things change. There are blow-outs and different colors — and let’s not forget the smell. For most parents, potty training can’t come soon enough.
But even though these changes, for the most part, are normal, sometimes they can be alarming. “I get a lot of questions from parents about this,” says Dr. Resham Batra, a board-certified pediatrician with Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group. “A baby’s body changes so quickly, so parents need to pay attention to know what’s normal and what could be a concern.”
Dr. Batra sheds some light on this (usually) dark subject:
Stages of baby poop
- Stage 1: Newborns
In the first few hours of life, babies excrete what they’ve taken in from the womb — amniotic fluid, mucus and skin cells. This substance is called meconium. It is black, tarry, sticky and, luckily, has no smell.
- Stage 2: The first few days
Somewhere between 2 to 4 days of age, baby poop becomes green, lighter and less sticky. This is proof that your baby is starting to digest breastmilk or formula. Still no smell!
- Stage 3: Milk eaters
For breastfed babies, expect a transition to mushy yellow or slightly green poop. It can also have seed-like bits in it. For formula-fed babies, poop can look more like mushy peanut butter in varying shades of brown. It can be smellier than poop from breastfed babies, but still mild.
This is the stage that brings dreaded “blow-outs” — the phenomenon of poop creeping out of your baby’s diaper and up his or her back. Blame it on consistency, and never forget to travel without a change of clothes.
- Stage 4: The move to solid foods
And the smell begins. Once baby starts eating solid food, expect darker, smellier and thicker poop. The consistency will stay relatively soft until breastfeeding or formula-feeding stops entirely.
Things to look out for
- Bright green, bubbly poop
This substance, which sometimes happens with breastfed babies, is the result of too much foremilk — the low-calorie milk that comes first in a feeding. To ensure your baby is getting to the hindmilk, make sure you’re feeding him or her long enough on each breast.
- Black-ish poop
Babies receiving an iron supplement can excrete dark green or black poop. But if this happens, it’s a good idea to call your baby’s doctor, as it could indicate something more serious.
- Undigested food poop
Eager eaters may swallow before chewing completely, which could explain the partially digested food in your baby’s poop. If this continues, it could mean an intestinal issue. When in doubt, call your baby’s doctor.
- White or gray poop
Pale poop with a clay-like consistency could be cause for alarm — indicating liver or gallbladder issues. Call your doctor right away.
- Mucus-y poop
If your baby loves to drool, mucus in saliva can go undigested. But this can also be an indication of an infection or allergy. Consult with your baby’s doctor to stay on the safe side.
- Bloody poop
Blood in your baby’s poop could mean anything from an allergy to constipation. Any time you see blood, it’s a good idea to call your baby’s doctor.
- Pebbled poop
This is a telltale sign of constipation — a common occurrence when a baby starts on solid foods. One or two pebbly diapers is OK, but if you see more (or if you see blood), call the doctor.
- Runny poop
Runny poop usually means diarrhea; it can be yellow, green or brown. Diarrhea can lead to dehydration, so call your doctor if your baby is 3 months or younger, or if the diarrhea persists more than two or three days.
Of course, always contact your baby’s doctor if you have concerns. Otherwise, get yourself a good diaper pail and never, ever, forget the wipes.