Baby Poop - What to expect in the Diaper (Nappy)

This page is divided into 3 sections of common questions about baby poop and other diaper (nappy) matters in newborn babies.

You will be changing your baby's diaper (nappy) frequently, so will be very aware of what is happening. A normal pooping (pooing) pattern in babies is a helpful way of seeing that all is well with your baby. Sometimes, what is in the diaper (nappy) alerts you to there being something wrong with your baby - read on to find out what is normal and what is a cause for concern.

  • Normal poop
  • Blood in the diaper (nappy)
  • Breast Fed Babies - important information

To read about baby constipation, click here

What is normal for baby poop?

The first poop (poo or stool) a baby will pass is called meconium. Meconium is a very dark green or brown/black color. It is in the bowel before the baby is born and sometimes when a baby is distressed during the birth process, meconium is passed before birth staining the amniotic fluid brown.

All babies should pass meconium within 24 hours of birth - if this didn't happen, speak to your doctor.

The poop will be like meconium for a couple of days.

By day 3 or 4, baby poop should look more green and less black. Health professionals call this "changing stools". It is normal and just reflects that your baby is producing bile to help digest her food.

By day 5 or 6 after birth, baby poop should look yellow.

Then after a week or so, the poop might have small seeds in it but will still look yellow.

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How often should my baby poop (poo)?

In the first week, your baby should have a least 1 - 2 poops per day. This pattern should continue up until about 6 weeks of age.

After 6 - 8 weeks, some babies, particularly breast-fed babies, can poop after every feed and that's normal, while some babies, including breast-fed babies, only poop every few days and that's normal. Formula-fed babies often have less frequent and less liquid poops than breast-fed babies - that's normal.

So you can see that what is normal includes a wide range - if your baby is growing and contented and pooping at least once every week, there probably isn't anything to be worried about.

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Is it normal for my baby to squirm around when he poops?

A baby will often squirm around and screw up his face when he poops. He is just helping his bowels move. Drawing up the legs puts him more in a squatting position that makes it easier to poop. It doesn't mean he has a problem or is in pain. As long as he is pooping and is growing, don't worry too much. 

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Is it normal for my baby's poop to be pale in color?

If your baby has very pale stools (poop) - like a cream or beige, this is not normal. Speak to your health care nurse or doctor, particularly if your baby is jaundiced and has dark urine - he may have a blockage in the bile system.

If your baby has mustard color stools (poop), you shouldn't have to worry.

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What does it mean if there is blood in the baby poop (poo)?

Blood in the stool in an otherwise well baby is not serious - it doesn't mean cancer or anything worrying. If it is only a small amount of blood occasionally, there is no need to do anything.

If your baby is not well in other ways or has a large amount of bleeding from the rectum, see your doctor.

Causes of blood in baby poop include:

  • constipation - if the poop is very hard and dry, your baby may be a bit constipated. Read more
  • blood coming from your cracked nipple (even if you can't see it) - if the poop seems normal and you have a breast-fed baby, this is the most likely cause. You don't need to worry - just keep feeding as usual. The blood is sometimes altered by stomach acid so looks black
  • intussusception - this is a condition where there is a blockage of the bowel and you do need to see a doctor. Babies with intussusception have bouts of crying where they characteristically draw up their legs. Read more
  • cow's milk protein intolerance (allergy)- if this is the cause, it is likely that your baby will have other symptoms as well (for example, irritibility, poor weight gain, vomiting) - see your doctor if your baby is unwell in himself and has blood in his poop. Read more

To read more about blood in the stool (poop, poo), click here.

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What causes the stool to be black or have black bits?

When blood is in the stomach, it is altered by the acid in the stomach and this changes the color to black. Any bleeding that occurs in the stomach or above, can look black. Black poop is known as melena.

The commonest causes of black bits in the stool are either:

  • in a breast-feeding baby, the mother can have cracked nipples and blood from the crack mixes with the milk and then is altered in color in the stomach
  • in an infant or toddler who has been vomiting, there can be tiny tears in the lining of the esophagus which cause a little bit of bleeding. The blood then goes down into the stomach where its color is altered
  • bleeding from the esophagus or stomach as can occur in esophagitis, gastritis or an ulcer

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What causes a blood stain on the diaper (nappy) when there is no poop (poo)?

Occasionally, in the first few days, you may see what looks like a blood stain on the nappy even when there is no baby poop.

If it is red and you have a baby girl, it is probably some vaginal bleeding caused by the effect of your hormones on her body (her body has been used to them being around and now they are not)- it is nothing to worry about. It will settle down over the first few weeks.

If the staining is more orange / pink, it is probably due to urate crystals in the urine. They usually go within a few days and are nothing to worry about.

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What causes an orange stain on the diaper (nappy)?

Orange or pink stains are due to urate crystals in the urine. They are nothing to worry about and will disappear within a few days.

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Important Information for Breast-Fed Babies

As it is not easy to know exactly the amount of milk a breast fed baby is having (especially over the first week), you need to check what is coming out to know if they are having enough in!

So, you need to check what is in the diaper.If they are getting enough milk, breast fed babies will have the following:

  • by day 3-4, they will be having 4-5 wet diapers (nappies) per day
  • by Day 3-4, they will be having 2-3 soiled nappies per day. The poop should be changing from a dark color to mustard yellow with seeds and should be at least the size of a coin measuring 25mm in diameter (so 25 mm across)

If your baby is not having as much as this in the diaper at 3-4 days of age, your baby may not be getting enough milk and you need to see your doctor or lactation consultant for help with feeding.

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To read about what baby poop is like in constipation, click here

To read more about blood in the stool (poop, poo), click here

To go to the Newborn Baby problem page, click here

To return to the Home page, click here

Last reviewed 6 June 2012

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Dr Maud MD

Dr Maud MD (MBChB, FRACP, FRCPCH), a specialist pediatrician, provides health information and medical advice for parents of babies and toddlers. Read more about Dr Maud.

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