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Baby Poop Color: What Do They Mean And When To See A Doctor

Baby Poop Color: What Do They Mean And When To See A Doctor

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IN THIS ARTICLE

Newborn poop comes in a broad spectrum of different colors. However, newborn poop is different from adult poop, and it is essential to know what is expected and what is not for babies.

An infant’s poop color and texture change a lot in the first few months of their life. While it is common for parents to be concerned about any new changes, variation in a newborn’s poop color is not always a cause for concern. The texture of the stool also often changes based on the baby’s diet.

However, the poop color and texture may give you some information about what is going on with the baby’s body. Any abnormal color may be a sign of an underlying health issue. Therefore, it is important to keep an eye on the variations in poop color and texture and talk to the pediatrician if you have any questions.

This post tells you about various colors and textures of baby poop, helping you distinguish between normal and abnormal stool in babies.

Poop Color Chart

The following poop color chart can come in handy when in doubt (1).

Poop Color Chart

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1. Black

The baby’s first stool is known as meconium, which can be black to blackish-green in color. It has a tar-like consistency. It is formed of amniotic fluid, cells, mucus, bile, and water. It is sterile and does not stink. This black stool is normal in the first few days of life (2). Babies pass meconium in the first 24 to 48 hours (3).

It is necessary to mention to the pediatrician if you don’t see meconium within 48 hours after birth. The poop begins to change color about three days after birth. If you see black poop after three days, you should inform your healthcare provider. After the meconium has passed, black stools might indicate bleeding in the stomach or small intestine (4) (5).

2. Mustard yellow

Mustard yellow poop color is normal and is seen in breastfed babies (6). It may also be seedy in appearance (7).

3. Bright yellow

All shades of yellow poop are usually normal in babies (7). Bright yellow poop is normal and can be seen in babies who are exclusively breastfed and babies on formula feed.

4. Orange

Orange-colored poop is normal in babies. These colors come from digestive juices, gut bacteria, and bile secretions.

5. Greenish tan

Greenish tan stool could be seen at times and is usually normal. It is seen more in formula-fed babies (8). The green color in breastfed babies may also appear if the mother has consumed green leafy vegetables. For babies on solids, feeding green veggies, such as spinach or peas, may also cause greens stools. Bile may also bring green color to the stool (9).

The poop looks bright green and frothy in babies who consume more foremilk with less fat content. Some viruses may also cause bright green poop. If the baby seems uncomfortable or unwell, along with green stools, contact your pediatrician to rule out any abnormalities.

6. Dark green

All shades of the green stool are usually normal and do not always indicate underlying pathology. Iron supplements for babies may also cause greens tools. Dark green stool may appear black under poor lighting conditions.

Diarrhea may cause green poop. However, the color and consistency should be correlated before diagnosing diarrhea. Formed stools may also be green in color (9).

7. Red

Bright red stool may indicate bleeding of the lower gastrointestinal tract. Maroon stools may indicate bleeding somewhere in the middle of the gastrointestinal tract (4).

However, 90% of red stools are not caused by blood. Many medicines, such as amoxicillin, may cause red stools. In babies on solids, foods, such as red food coloring, red jello, cranberries, beetroot, tomatoes, red candies, and red cereals, may also cause red stools (9). Although not always a matter of panic, it is best to discuss red stools with the baby’s healthcare provider.

8. White

White poop is rare and may be caused by the absence of bile. It may indicate an issue with the liver or the gall bladder (4).

White stools may also indicate a rare disorder known as biliary atresia. It is advised to contact the doctor if the baby’s stool appears white (10).

9. Gray

Babies who are on a milk-only diet might have gray stools. Medicines, such as antacids with aluminum hydroxide or barium sulfate from a barium enema, may also cause gray stools (9). In babies with biliary atresia, the stool color may appear grayish. It is best to consult a pediatrician if the baby passes gray stools.

What Does The Poop Texture Mean?

Correlating the poop color and consistency is the correct way to gauge your baby’s health. Stool in babies is usually soft. Some alterations in the consistency of the baby’s stool may indicate an underlying issue. Very watery or hard stools might indicate the need to see the doctor.

The following are the various types of poop consistencies (11).

1. Newborn poop consistency

The newborn poop is very sticky and tar-like in its consistency. However, it changes in just a few days after birth to a more loose and pasty consistency.

2. Breastfed baby’s consistency

A breastfed baby’s poop is runny but not watery and may have little whitish curd-like particles. It can be seedy or grainy, too.

3. Formula-fed consistency

Formulas are harder to digest, making the stool consistency harder and thicker. The poop of formula-fed babies moves slower through their intestines. Many formulas are iron-enriched and might lead to variation in the poop color.

4. Solid-eating baby’s consistency

The poop of babies fed on solids is thicker and similar to peanut butter in its consistency. It is mushy and smelly. At times, some particles of undigested food particles are also seen in the poop. It can happen when the baby does not chew food properly or if the food passes through the intestines very quickly.

5. Constipation consistency

Babies on formula are more prone to get constipation since breast milk is easier to digest. Brown, hard, small, or large pebble-like or knobby poop may indicate constipation. The baby might be uncomfortable, in pain, or cry while trying to pass stool during constipation.

6. Diarrhea

Although the baby’s poop isn’t as solid as that of adults, if it is very liquidy, frequent, and watery, it could indicate diarrhea. The poop appears like it is made of more water and fewer solids. Diarrhea in babies may lead to dehydration. Hence, it should be addressed by a medical practitioner.

7. Mucousy or frothy stools

A baby may have mucousy poop due to various reasons. Food allergies, foremilk/hindmilk imbalance, excess saliva production due to teething, a viral infection, and malabsorption of nutrients from breast milk are some of the reasons why babies might have mucousy stools. Mucousy stools may even lead to a diaper rash. It is advisable to consult a doctor to find out the cause of mucousy stools.

8. Blood in stools

Straining due to constipation may cause tears or tiny hemorrhoids in the anus. It may lead to the appearance of blood streaks in the baby’s poop. Blood-tinted loose motions may indicate a bacterial infection.

Tiny seed-like particles or flecks of black blood in poop may appear if the baby sucks milk from the mother’s sore, cracked, and bleeding nipples. Blood in the baby’s stool may not always be due to an underlying issue. However, it is recommended to talk to the baby’s doctor. If other symptoms, such as fever, pain, or vomiting, accompany blood in stools, it may require emergency medical attention.

Bristol Stool Scale

Bristol stool scale can help you understand the different poop consistencies easily.

Bristol Stool Scale

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The following inferences may be derived from Bristol’s stool scale (12).

  • Type 1 and type 2 are difficult to pass and may indicate constipation.
  • Type 3 and 4 are ideal and desirable consistencies.
  • Type 5 may indicate progression to diarrhea.
  • Type 6 and 7 indicate diarrhea.

When To See A Doctor?

Babies’ stool appearance is a mirror of their overall health. Diarrhea and constipation should be brought to the pediatrician’s attention. If any other signs, such as fever, vomiting, and excessive crying, are present, the doctor may check for infections.

Constant diarrhea may lead to dehydration. The following are the signs of dehydration in babies (13).

  • Fewer soiled diapers due to less urination
  • Less playful
  • Dry or patchy mouth
  • Fewer tears when crying
  • Sunken soft spot on the head
  • Loose motions
  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Sunken eyes
  • Wrinkled skin

The change in color and texture of baby poop is very common and frequent. However, being able to distinguish abnormal from normal is helpful. Observing and addressing alterations in your baby’s poop may help in quick recovery in case of underlying pathology.

References:

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
1. Baby poo guide; Pregnancy, Birth, and Baby
2. Baby’s First Bowel Movements; American Academy of Pediatrics
Christy L. Skelly, Hassam Zulfiqar, and Senthilkumar Sankararaman,3. Meconium; U.S. National Library of Medicine
4. What can your child’s poop color tell you?; Johns Hopkins Children’s Center
5. The Color of Baby Poop and What It Means; Cleveland Clinic
6. Stool Color Guide; Johns Hopkins Medicine
7. Bowel Movements in Babies; HealthLink British Columbia
8. Aysu Duyan Camurdan et al., Defecation patterns of the infants mainly breastfed from birth till the 12th month: Prospective cohort study; National Library of Medicine
9. Stools – Unusual Color; Seattle Children’s Hospital
10. Biliary Atresia; Cincinnati Children’s
11. The Scoop on Poop; Healthy Child Manitoba
12. Bristol Stool Form Scale; Stanford School of Medicine
13. Signs of Dehydration in Infants & Children; American Academy of Pediatrics