Abnormal pee

Why isn’t my baby’s pee pale yellow?

If a baby’s pee is not pale yellow, the baby may be underfed or sick. Dark yellow or orange-red pee may indicate a newborn baby is not getting enough milk. Pee will become darker yellow if a baby is dehydrated from vomiting or diarrhea. If the pee is brown or red, it may contain blood resulting from abnormal structures in the urinary system, an inherited disease, an infection, or kidney disease. Babies whose pee is pink may have a bacterial infection picked up from breast milk. 

A) Abnormal pee colours

Abnormal pee colour may be a sign of a problem. Babies with abnormal pee colours should be seen by their health-care providers.

1) Orange-red pee or dark yellow pee in a newborn

Newborn babies who are not getting enough colostrum or breast milk generally have fewer pees per day. Their pee may be dark yellow instead of light yellow, or it may be orange-red (brick coloured), a colour caused by urate crystals, which develop when the urine is too concentrated. These babies will show other signs of not getting enough milk.

Babies who are dehydrated from vomiting or diarrhea will have dark yellow pee.

2) Red or brown pee

Blood in the pee can cause it to turn red or brown. Possible causes include:

  • An abnormal structure of the urinary system
  • Inherited (genetic) diseases
  • High levels of minerals in the urine
  • Kidney disease
  • Kidney infection
  • Some medications

Urine can be brownish if jaundice is present.

3) Pink pee

Rarely, the bacteria Serratia marcescens can infect breast milk and babies’ gut and urinary systems. These bacteria produce a pink pigment, resulting in pink breast milk and pink pee in babies.

B) Bladder infections

Babies can have infections of the bladder or kidney. These are part of the urinary tract and health-care providers often refer such infections as UTIs (urinary tract infections).

Babies who have a urinary tract infection may pee more often or be unhappy when peeing. They may have pee that smells bad or has an abnormal appearance: 

  • Dark
  • Bloody
  • Cloudy

They may have a number of signs that don’t seem to point to a urinary tract infection:

  • Fever without a runny nose or cough
  • General unhappiness
  • A sudden decrease in appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting