Baby poo: a visual guide (photos)

  • baby lying on his back and holding onto his feet
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    What should baby poo look like?

    Most new parents find baby poo quite surprising! It has so many shades and consistencies that even experienced parents may not have seen them all.

    This photo guide to baby poo will give you a good idea of what's normal and what's not as your newborn grows, drinks breastmilk or formula, and starts eating solids.
  • nappy full of newborn meconium poo
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    Newborn poo: meconium

    Expect to find greenish-black, tarry, sticky stools in your newborn's nappy for the first few days. This is known as meconium (mec for short), and is made of amniotic fluid, mucus, skin cells and other substances your baby swallowed in the uterus (womb). It doesn't really smell, so you may not realise straight away when it's time for a nappy change.

    When your baby is two to four days old, his stools will become less sticky and lighter in colour – sort of an army green. This transitional stool is a sign that he's started digesting breastmilk or formula.
  • nappy full of healthy breastfed baby poo
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    Healthy breastfed poo

    If your baby is exclusively breastfed his stools will become yellow or slightly green, and have a mushy or creamy consistency. Breastfed poo can look like mustard-coloured cottage cheese, and may be dotted with little seed-like flecks. It often smells surprisingly sweet.

    There are many shades of normal when it comes to breastfed poo. Your baby may occasionally do a poo that seems a bit greener than usual. As long as he seems well in himself, there's no need to worry.
  • nappy full of healthy formula-fed baby poo
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    Healthy formula-fed poo

    Formula-fed babies have firmer stools that are often a similar colour and texture to peanut butter. They can vary from tan-brown or yellow-brown, to green-brown.

    Formula-fed poo also smells a bit more like adult poo than breastfed poo does.
  • nappy full of dark green and black baby poo
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    Dark green or black poo

    If you give your baby an iron supplement, his stools may turn dark green or almost black. This doesn't happen often, but it's a completely normal variation that would make Popeye proud.

    If your baby's more than a few days old, his poo looks blackish, and he's not taking an iron supplement, see your doctor as soon as possible. In rare cases, this can be a sign of bleeding in your baby's digestive system. It's not likely to happen to your baby, but you should get him checked out, just in case.

    If there are black specks in your breastfed baby's poo, this could be a sign that he's swallowing blood from cracked and bleeding nipples. The blood turns black when your baby digests it.

    It's always a good idea to get any blood in your baby's poo checked out by your GP, but in most cases, black specks are unlikely to be anything to worry about.
  • nappy full of solid-food baby poo
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    Solid-food poo

    Once your baby's eating solid foods, you'll quickly notice a change in his poos, especially if he's breastfed.

    Solid-food stools tend to be brown or dark brown, and thicker than peanut butter but still mushy. They're also smellier.

    You may notice that your baby's poo takes on the colour of the food you give him. For example, if you feed him carrots, his next poo may be orange. And a beetroot poo can look quite alarming!
  • nappy full of baby poo containing partially digested food
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    Poo with partially digested food

    Occasionally your baby's poo will have identifiable chunks of food in it, particularly if you're doing baby-led weaning.

    Not to worry! Your baby's still learning to chew and his digestive system is still developing, so it's normal for some food to pass through his system without being fully digested.

    If your baby's poo consistently has undigested food in it, though, it's worth talking to your doctor. She'll check to make sure your baby's intestines are working properly, and he's getting all the nutrients he needs.
  • baby with diarrhoea poo coming out the top of his nappy
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    It's not uncommon for healthy babies to do the occasional explosive or runny poo. But if your baby does several runny poos with no lumps in them, he could have diarrhoea. It can be yellow, green or brown, and may seep or explode out of his nappy.

    Diarrhoea can be a sign of an infection or allergy, and if it lasts for a while without being treated, can lead to dehydration.

    Call the doctor if your baby is younger than six months, or if he has watery stools for more than a day or two. Make an appointment sooner if he's showing signs of dehydration – such as fewer wet nappies than usual, tearless crying or a sunken fontanelle – or has any other symptoms that concern you.
  • nappy full of poo from a constipated baby
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    If your baby's stool is hard and looks like little pebbles, it's likely that he's constipated. Your baby may be visibly uncomfortable when he's pooing, and the poo may even be tinged with blood from irritating his bottom on the way out.

    Constipation often happens in babies who are being introduced to solid foods, and it's usually nothing to worry about. But in some cases, constipation can be a sign of dehydration, a food allergy or a medical condition. If you think your baby is constipated, it’s worth having a chat with your GP or child health nurse, just in case.
  • nappy full of baby poo with mucus
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    Poo with mucus

    Does your baby's nappy look like it's been slimed? Greenish poo streaked with shiny, glistening strings means there's mucus in it. This sometimes happens when a baby is especially drooly, since mucus in saliva often remains undigested. It can also happen when he has a cold, as he'll naturally produce more mucus.

    But mucus in poo can also be a sign of an infection or allergy. If it happens for several days, or your baby has any other symptoms, see your doctor to rule out any problems.
  • nappy full of baby poo containing bright red blood
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    Bloody poo: bright red blood

    If you have a baby girl, you may notice a few specks of blood in her nappy a few days after the birth. This is known as a false period. It happens because of the surge in hormones your body experiences in pregnancy, which in turn stimulate your baby’s uterus to produce a period. It's perfectly normal, and no cause for concern.

    Blood can show up in your baby's stools for other reasons. For example, constipation or nappy rash can irritate your baby's bottom and make it bleed.

    Although blood in your baby's nappy doesn't necessarily mean he's ill, it's always best to get it checked out, just to be on the safe side. It can sometimes be a sign of infection, allergies or a problem with your baby's digestive system. So if you notice a bloody nappy, make an appointment with your doctor, just in case.
  • freshly changed baby with his bottom and legs in the air
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    The end

    More advice and tips:

    Thanks very much to the BabyCenter US parents (and their babies!) who contributed to this slideshow.
Megan Rive is a communication, content strategy and project delivery specialist. She was Babycenter editor for six years.

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