One of the more bizarre obsessions that new parents have is baby poo! Our resident health visitor Kate Daymond explains what’s normal and what’s not.
First baby poo
Your baby’s first few poos might be quite a shock to you, as they will be greenish black and sticky, like tar. This is called meconium – the material that was in your baby’s bowel.
As he begins taking milk over the next few days, the poo will become a paler green. If you’re breastfeeding it will turn brown on the fifth and sixth days, then orange, and by the tenth day will settle to become a bright or mustardy yellow. It can also look as if it has mustard seeds in it! Poo from a breastfed baby can sometimes smell ‘sweet’.
If you’re bottle-feeding, your baby’s poo will be smelly, firmer and pale brown or darker rather than a yellow shade, and more frequent than when breast feeding.
Pale cream coloured poo may be a sign of jaundice. This can affect babies soon after birth so speak to your midwife or health visitor if you’re concerned.
Changing from breast milk to formula
The switch to formula milk should be done slowly to let your baby’s tummy get used to it. His poo will become darker and thicker, more like a paste. Offer cooled boiled water between feeds to avoid constipation.
How do I know if my baby has diarrhoea?
Because baby poo is fairly runny, this can be tricky. Healthy babies can have one-off explosive poos that go everywhere, but these will smell normal and often follow a ‘build up’ for several days. But if the poo’s watery, so the nappy absorbs most of it, and very smelly, or if he’s having more frequent and explosive poos, he may be suffering. If it doesn’t clear up in 24 hours speak to your health visitor or GP, as babies can become quickly dehydrated.
Is green poo normal?
Strange though it may sound, some formula milk can result in green poo! It’s because of the iron in the milk. Some breastfed babies have dark green poo as well, which can be normal. For a baby who is unsettled, not feeding well or not gaining weight, green poo can be an indicator of a feeding difficulty. Your health visitor will be able to advise you.
What if there’s blood in the poo?
If your baby’s constipated, you may see a little blood in his poo from tiny tears in the skin of his back passage. His poo will be like rabbit droppings or larger and harder, and you should ask your GP or health visitor for advice.
If there’s more than just a few streaks of bright red blood in normal poo, or it’s combined with diarrhoea, call your doctor.
Slimy baby poo
If your little one’s poo looks slimy or shiny, this is because it contains mucous. This can happen if he’s dribbling a lot and swallowing saliva that isn’t digested. But as it could also be a sign of an infection or allergy, you should see your GP.
Strange though it may sound, did you know that some formula milk can result in green poo?