" Baby Poo: What is Normal?
Baby Poo: What is Normal?

It’s probably one of those subjects which was definitely not talked about at the dinner table or in polite conversation; baby poo! But I’m sure you have now realised that having a baby makes this often the topic of conversation, in any company!

There can be a lot of controversy and confusion over what is typical output for our babies and how do you know what is normal. Let’s start at the very beginning.

When your baby is born the first poo your baby will have is called meconium. This poo is black and sticky in consistency, but not smelly. Sometimes it’s hard to believe how much of this meconium can come out of such a tiny baby!

We used to believe that meconium was sterile and that’s why it didn’t smell but we now know that a newborn’s gut is not sterile and is teaming full of good bacteria, this is known as the microbiome and is really important for all of us. Your baby swallows around 750ml of amniotic fluid every day in the third trimester which helps babies learn to suck and swallow. Meconium is made in part by all of this amniotic fluid bub has swallowed, along with other essentials baby needed whilst growing inside of you.

How Long does a Meconium type poo last?

Meconium type poo usually lasts for about 24 hours. It is a good idea to change your baby’s nappy as soon as you know they have passed this poo, as it can be hard to wipe off due to its incredible stickyiness!

As your baby starts to feed more and more it you will see changes and increases in their poos; and wees.

By around 24-72 hours a baby’s poo changes to a greeny brown colour with a much less sticky appearance.

By 72-96 hours old your baby’s poos will become much more yellow and loose. Imagine English mustard with a little of wholegrain mustard mixed through it and then watered down – this is a typical breastmilk poo! This poo tends to have a type of “yeasty” smell to it.

How Many Poo’s?

Babies will be passing about 1-6+ of these every day and these changes and volume are a good sign that your baby is getting enough breast milk.

In the early weeks of breastfeeding your milk is mostly (90%) made up of whey; this is the liquid portion of the milk containing many immune factors. This is the perfect make up for your newborn’s tummy. From around 6 weeks to 6 months the make-up of your milk is about 80% whey and 20% casein. This gradual increase in casein can cause your baby’s stools become a little thicker over time, more like peanut butter, and baby will likely change their pooing habits to only going a few times per week or less often from this stage. From 6 months of age your baby’s poos will change again, both in colour and aroma due to all the new and interesting foods that are being introduced to their diet alongside your breastmilk.

Time period

0-2 day

Appearance

Meconium (black green sticky tar consistency)

Quantity

Scant to copious 1+ per day

Time period

2-4 days

Appearance

Black to green to yellow (getting looser in consistency)

Quantity

Increasing in volume ( 1 – 3 + per day)

Time period

4-7 days

Appearance

Yellow, seedy, runny

Quantity

Copious by day 6 (1-4+ per day)

Time period

1-6 weeks

Appearance

Yellow, seedy, runny to loose

Quantity

Copious (3-5+ per day)

Time period

6 weeks to 6 months

Appearance

Yellow, soft, may thicken over time because of milk compositional changes

Quantity

Copious and may be skip days

Time period

6 months onwards

Appearance

Loose, colour and aroma may change as foods are introduced into their diet

What should I do if my baby is not pooing to this schedule?

You may hear lots of conflicting stories about pooing, and this is because babies change over time and we all breastfeed differently to one another. The best thing about looking at your baby’s poo is that it tells us how well your baby is feeding. What goes in, must come out! And out it comes! Sometimes I think those parents who wear glasses are the lucky ones when it comes to changing bub’s bottom. I bet if you haven’t already you will soon get caught out by a nappy “explosion”!

If your baby is not passing a poo at least every day in the first few days and weeks then this is an indication to have your baby checked as well as getting your feeding checked, by your midwife, maternal child health nurse or a lactation consultant. It is important that when a health professional is investigating your baby’s wet and dirty output that they also have a look at how breastfeeding is going for you both. They will weigh your baby as well to give an overall picture. If your baby is not quite eating enough, one of the first signs will be a decrease in the amount they poo. So, this is something to always seek some advice with.

Why has my baby got green frothy poos?

This can occur at some times with absolutely no consequence and may last one or two poos, but for some baby’s this becomes the norm with every nappy. The most common reason for these types of stools is when a mum has a fast initial let down or less likely, has over-supply of milk. For some mums they have copious amounts of milk which flow really fast at first. This can lead to your baby gulping down the first flow of milk really quickly and soon becoming full up. Because the fat consistency of milk changes over the length of a feed, this can mean that baby is only drinking the fairly low fat, high lactose milk and not able to fully drain the breast enough to drink the fattier milk which gradually comes into the feed. This is not dangerous to babies at all, but it can make them irritable, want to feed more frequently and they may be uncomfortable with their stools on occasions, as well as having greeny and often also frothy nappies.

There are some easy solutions to help, which you can find here but it is always a good idea to seek help in person with a lactation consultant, maternal child health nurse or by attending your local Australian Breastfeeding Association group. They will be able to watch how your baby feeds on the breast and to give you both some solutions and tips to try.

Our baby’s will keep us on our toes when it comes to changing nappies, but I can guarantee you there will be some very funny moments when it comes to poo explosions! But most of all, each time you change a nappy you can feel proud that all the awesome work you are doing with breastfeeding is certainly paying off!

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