Baby poo - a guide to what's normal

baby on changing mat

No one tells you that becoming a parent comes with another huge honour – becoming a Poo Guru. Getting familiar with the colour, texture and smell (sorry) of his stools will let you know that your baby is feeding properly and is healthy. Yes, parenthood really is this glamorous. Here's the Mumsnet guide to the entire baby poo spectrum (you’re welcome).

It's very normal for the colour and texture of your baby's poo to change depending on their age, feeding habits and other factors. However, it's worth keeping an eye (and nose – we're sorry) out for the appearance of blood or mucus in your baby's poo, shades of green or paleness poos and the signs of constipation and diarrhoea.

How often should my baby poo?

A newborn baby will usually poo an average of four or five times a day in his first week. If your baby is exclusively breastfed expect him to produce a dirty nappy after every feed. Don't worry, this will slow down by the time he hits the six-week mark when his digestive system becomes used to your milk.

Breastmilk contains a natural laxative so babies that are exclusively breastfed will poo more often that those that are fed formula. By the time your baby is one, he'll average two dirty nappies a day, if he is still being breastfed, or one dirty nappy a day if he is on formula or solids.

Baby nappy change

What will my baby's first poo look like?

Newborn poo is known as meconium. It's a dark greeny-black, sticky substance, not unlike Marmite, that's present in your baby's bowels before birth. It's made up of everything your baby ingested while he was in the womb including amniotic fluid and mucus.

The appearance of meconium is a good sign that your baby's bowels are working properly. Meconium will usually pass within three or four days and your baby's stools will turn a mustard-yellow colour.

Sometimes, if a baby is a bit distressed during labour he will pass some meconimum then, so if you have a greenish or black tinge to your waters when they break, let your midwives know so they can keep an extra eye on your baby.

What will my baby's poo look like if I'm breastfeeding?

My baby was exclusively breastfed and having four or five poos a day up until he was about three months old when he suddenly just stopped pooing. Now he only does one every couple of days. I didn't realise it would just change so suddenly!

The first milk that you produce, called colostrum, has a laxative effect. Initially, this will help to clear your baby's bowels of meconium.

For as long as your baby is breastfed, his stools will be loose and grainy, almost like cottage cheese in texture. His poo should retain its yellow colour and will smell quite sweet – see? It's not all bad.

What will my baby's poo look like if he is on formula?

If your baby is formula-fed, his poo will have a similar yellow or browny-yellow colour but the texture and smell will be different from that of a breastfed baby. Formula is harder for babies to digest so your baby's stools will be bulkier, like a paste, and smell like an adult poo.

What will my baby's poo look like once he is eating solid food?

Once your baby starts on solid foods, his poos will change depending on what he's been eating but generally speaking, they will be noticeably thicker and bigger. If you are feeding your baby pureed food, then the colour of his poo will reflect what you are giving him.

If weaning has moved beyond the puree stage, then you might notice undigested food such as carrots or sweetcorn in his stools. You also get a nice, healthy smell!

How do I know if my baby has diarrhoea?

baby in nappy

If your baby is breastfed, then his stools will continue to be loose but they shouldn't be runny. If his poo does have a liquid consistency, then he has diarrhoea. Cleaning up a poo-nami is a right of passage for any parent and many Mumsnetters attribute diarrhoea to teething, although there's actually no scientific basis for this.

However, diarrhoea can be a sign that your baby is ill or has an allergy and a prolonged bout can lead to dehydration. You should seek medical advice if the diarrhoea continues for more than 24 hours or if it is accompanied by other symptoms such as a fever, vomiting or belly pain.

Is it normal for my baby to turn bright red when he poos?

It is normal for your baby to turn a bit red when he poos but if he is straining and it's accompanied by pebble-like stools, then he may be constipated. You might also notice that his tummy feels hard to touch. It's more common for bottle-fed babies to become constipated as formula can be harder to digest than breastmilk.

If you are giving your baby formula, make sure that you are following the instructions correctly as mixing too much powder can result in constipation. It is common for babies to experience some constipation when they move on to solid foods, at least until their digestive system adjusts.

If your baby is constipated, speak to your GP. It could be a sign that he is allergic to something he is eating, whether that's food that is passing to him through your breastmilk or even to his formula.

smiling baby nappy change

My baby's poo is green. Should I worry?

My daughter ‘cut down’ on poo quite dramatically at three weeks. I had her checked over and it was just one of those things. The doctor recommended massaging her tummy clockwise and pedalling the legs as well as feeding frequently.

Most babies will produce the odd green poo but if it becomes a regular occurrence, then it could be a sign of not feeding properly.

If you are breastfeeding, it could be that your baby is not latched on properly and is only getting the foremilk and not the rich, fatty, good stuff that comes at the end of the feed.

Foremilk is full of lactose and it can be hard for your baby to digest the extra sugar he's taking in. Ask your health visitor to check your latch to avoid any such problems.

If you're giving him a formula that is fortified with iron then that could also be responsible for turning his poo dark green or black.

If neither of these reasons explains the odd colour of your baby's poo then it could be due to illness and you should speak to your doctor.

There is mucus in my baby's poo. Should I be worried?

A baby's poo can look slimy if he's teething and producing an excess of saliva. The drool can go undigested and come out in a dirty nappy. Otherwise, mucus in your baby's stool can be a sign of infection or allergy and you should see your doctor.

Newborn baby girls might produce some white discharge or even some mild blood spotting in their nappies in the first few days. This is entirely normal and is caused by exposure to the the mother's hormones during pregnancy.

There's blood in my baby's poo. What should I do?

baby on mat

If your baby is constipated you may notice some blood in his stools caused by tears or anal fissures but it's never worth taking a chance so you should seek your doctor's advice because blood in your baby's poo could be a sign of infection or allergy.

What is causing my baby's poo to be pale?

A stool that is very pale can be a sign of a liver disease such as jaundice. Jaundice can be common in newborns. If pale stools are accompanied by yellow-tinged skin or a change in the whites of your baby's eyes, you should see your doctor immediately.