What do the different poop colors mean?

Baby poop is a key indicator of your baby’s health. We know that it can be overwhelming when it comes to deciphering poor color as a new parent but rest assured that we’ll break down below what’s normal and what may warrant a visit to the doctor’s office. Let’s dive into those dirty diapers! 

First poop: Meconium

Congratulations! Your baby just achieved one of their first major milestones! First poop! Meconium is the medical term for the first poop your baby takes. It is given a special name because it is slightly different from the later poops. Meconium is composed of food that fills your baby’s intestines during his or her stay in your womb, such as amniotic fluid, cells, bile, and mucus. It is normally a sticky, tar-like substance with a greenish black color. Passing of meconium shows that your baby’s intestines are working on their own for the very first time – something amazing to celebrate for! 

So what’s next? 

After the big “meconium” moment, you’ll start seeing something called the transitional stools. They often have a dark green or yellowish color, and can be a little seedy in texture. You may see traces of blood in the transitional stools, possibly caused by your baby swallowing some of your blood during delivery. If you’re worried, please save a picture of the stool and consult with your pediatrician. After a few days of transitional stools, your baby’s poop will start having a more consistent color based on his or her diet. According to What to Expect, if your baby is breastfed, the bowel movements will have a mustard-like color and texture, sometimes loose, seedy, or mushy. If your baby is formula-fed, the bowel movements will usually have a color ranging from pale yellow to yellowish brown, light brown or brownish green [2]. The color, texture, and smell of your baby’s poops may change a lot during the first few days, weeks, and even months of life. According to the Medical News Today, a wide range of colors and consistencies is all considered normal [3]. 

  • Black – For babies younger than 1 week, black stools are considered healthy. As we learned earlier, meconium passed during the first 24 hours of life usually has a blackish color with a thick texture. Following that, the color gradually becomes lighter, from black to dark green then yellow. After 1 week, however, black stool may indicate a health problem. 
  • Yellow – Breastfed babies tend to have poops with a dark yellowish color consisting of small flecks. These small flecks are what is described as “seedy.” They come from substances in breast milk and are totally normal.
  • Brown or Orange – Formula-fed babies tend to have poops that have a light brown or orangish color. Their poops could be a little darker and firmer in texture than breastfed babies. 
  • Green – This is a very common color and could be a result of slow digestion, green foods from breastfeeding mom’s diet, a cold or stomach bug, food allergy or intolerance, antibiotics, or treatment for jaundice. Some baby’s poops naturally have a green color. As long as your baby is gaining weight and looks happy, green poop usually is not a cause for concern. Click here to learn more about green poops from Medical News Today. 
  • Red – After the first few days of life, red is not considered a healthy color and could indicate blood in the stools. Please contact your pediatrician for medical advice. 
  • White – White poop is not a healthy stool color and can indicate possible liver problems. Please contact your pediatrician for medical advice. 

References 

  1. “Meconium.” Meconium – an Overview | ScienceDirect Topics, www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/meconium\
  2. Conte, Kim. “Newborn and Baby Poop Basics.” What to Expect, 15 Apr. 2019, www.whattoexpect.com/first-year/health-and-safety/newborn-infant-baby-poop/
  3. “What Does Baby Poop Color Mean? Chart and Guide.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/327218#poop-colors-and-causes
  4. Jay L. Hoecker, M.D. “Baby Poop: What’s Normal?” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 7 Feb. 2020, www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddler-health/expert-answers/baby-poop/faq-20057971
  5. Jarlais, Jenny Des, and Dawn Rosenberg. “Baby Poop: A Visual Guide.” BabyCenter, www.babycenter.com/baby-poop-photos

Yvette Zhu

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