Poop is what is left over after you eat and your body has absorbed the nutrients from foods that it needs. And just like the trash sitting in your garbage can, poop may be many different shapes, sizes, colours, smells and even consistencies.
As your baby gets older, her poop may change colour, consistency, smell and frequency depending on her diet, her mother’s diet, and her own digestive system.
The First Look
Your baby’s first poop should be black and tarry-looking. Called meconium, she will continue to pass it over the first day or so before it changes from black to dark green to yellow in colour if she is feeding well.
Meconium is the earliest stool of a mammalian infant. Meconium, unlike later faeces, is almost odourless. Meconium is composed of materials ingested during the time the infant spends in the uterus: intestinal epithelial cells, lanugo, mucus, amniotic fluid, bile, and water, explains Dr Sridhar Arunachalam, associate consultant, Department of Neonatal and Developmental Medicine, Singapore General Hospital. After the first few days of life it is replaced with a transition stool of yellow green in colour followed by normal yellow coloured stools.
The frequency of baby’s poop varies from one baby to another. The poop may come with every feeding to every once a week which is perfectly normal for breastfed infants. In general, breastfed babies poop, more than formula fed babies, explains Dr Arunachalam. So long as the baby’s poop is soft, easy to pass, there is no need for concern. On the other hand, if baby has hard poop or seems to be in a lot of discomfort, then you should seek medical attention.
Breastfed babies can pass stools three to five times per day to once in three to five days or up to a week in the first few months, until settling into a daily routine of one to two times per day. Poop of formula fed babies can vary in their colour (yellow brown to sometimes greenish), frequency and consistency (in being less frequent and harder in consistency).
When it comes to how much poop is normal, there are no guidelines as to how much poop a baby should have. As long as the baby has soft poop even if it’s every four to five days and feeding well, it’s normal, explains Dr Ratna Sridjaja, paediatrician, Gleneagles Hospital Singapore. Similarly, if a baby is pooping with every feeding but gaining weight well, it’s still normal. On the other hand, if a baby has hard poop every day, it is not normal.
Stool quantities vary with babies and it is assumed abnormal if the quantity varies from the usual routine especially when the consistency is also changed.
What about its consistency? Babies’ meconium has a sticky consistency which is difficult to wipe. Breastfed babies have soft to sometimes loose pasty or granular consistency.
Formula fed babies have a harder consistency due to higher casein content, explains Dr Arunachalam.
The Difference Milk Makes
According to Dr Sridjaja, breast milk poop is usually softer, watery with little whitish seedy looking bits. This is because breast milk is better digested than infant formula (bottle feeds). Formula poop is less watery, usually pasty in consistency and yellow or tan in colour. Many parents are concerned if the stool changes colour to brown or green. In truth, all earth tones are fine, from yellow to green to brown.
Bottle-fed babies often need to open their bowels daily, as the stools are bulkier. Bottle-fed baby stools smell worse (more like an adult’s).
Stools can become thicker, harder and smelly just like that of an adult’s. You will notice that your baby’s stools will alter depending upon what you have fed her. Some high-fibre foods, such as raisins, may even pass through your baby’s bowels virtually unchanged, appearing in the nappy at the next change. Baby might pass orangey stools after intake of carrot puree, explains Dr Arunachalam.