7 Baby Poop Basics

Learn what you need to know about baby poop from pediatrician Dyan Hes, M.D. in this Howcast video about newborn and baby development.

I would say the majority of my calls are about baby poop whether it be too frequent, too infrequent, too liquidy, or too hard. Breastfed babies have very liquidy stools. Some bottle fed babies have very liquidy stools. We like to call it the dijon mustard stool. So, you might open a diaper and see runny liquid, seedy stool, and parents often think that that’s diarrhea. In a baby that’s not diarrhea. That is normal stool. Some babies have firm stool. Some babies have stools that look like pellets. That’s all normal as long as a baby passes them with ease.

Just remember that a baby needs to use all of their muscles to pass a stool. Parents always call me complaining that their baby is constipated, that they’re straining with stools. But then when I ask, the stool is soft or firm but soft and normal when it comes out. I say to the parents, remember, your baby is lying on their back. The baby doesn’t sit up yet. Gravity is not helping the baby. Just remember your baby’s stomach is a little distended. People always say baby fat, but it’s really the baby has a low tone of the stomach muscles, so the baby can’t really use their stomach to push out that stool. So, the baby has to use their arms and their legs, and the baby squeals a lot, and often cries to push that stool out. That’s OK. That does not mean your baby is constipated.

Constipation is usually when a baby does not have a bowel movement for five days or more. Some babies can poop with every feed. Some babies can poop every three days. And some babies poop every five days. I always tell parents the poop can be green, the poop can be brown, it can be yellow, but the only thing you want to make sure of is that there’s no blood in the stool. If you ever see blood in the stool you should call the pediatrician, because that could be a sign of cow’s milk allergy or milk allergy even in breastfeeding.

Breastfed babies might have very frequent poops when they’re born, and within two or three months the poops will slow down. That’s also normal. All babies get flora changes as they mature, so the stool pattern might change. As long as there’s no blood and as long as your baby is not inconsolably crying most stool patterns are normal.