Typical stooling

What are normal baby poops?

Breastfed babies produce stools (poops) that can range from runny to pasty. Normal stools can be yellow or green. Over time they turn brown. Solid foods can alter the colour of the stool. Young babies produce stools frequently. As they grow, the stools become less frequent. Once babies start on solid foods, the pattern is more like an adult’s. Abnormal stools and stooling patterns can be a sign of illness or of babies not taking in enough nutrients.

A) Normal stools

A baby’s stools (poops) vary based on age and whether the baby receives breast milk or infant formula. Solid foods will also change the texture, colour, and smell of the stool.

Stools of exclusively breastfed babies can be watery or pasty and contain mucous or a white cheesy material (curds) (Gustin 2018). Stool size can vary a lot. Stools should not be bloody, black, or very pale and babies should not have very hard stools (constipation).

B) Changes in stool number and type as the baby grows

A breastfed baby’s stools change as the baby develops. Over the first six months, you may see changes in stool colour, consistency, size, and frequency. Normal babies can have yellow, green, brown, and orange stools (Gustin 2018). In general, the number of stools each day will decrease during the first six months of life and their size tends to increase.

Here are some common age-related changes.

1) The first week

  • Day 1: Expect at least one stool. The first one is greenish-black and has a tar-like consistency. This stool is called meconium.
  • Day 2: Expect at least two stools. The colour is lighter and greener.
  • Days 3 and 4: Expect at least three stools. They can be green, yellow, or a mix of both.
  • Days 5 to 7: Expect at least three stools, usually yellow. The stool is loose and may contain curds.

Newborn babies who stool less frequently may not be taking in enough milk.

2) One week to one month

Normal babies have four to eight runny to slightly pasty stools a day at this age. They are usually yellow. A mother with a large milk supply may notice her baby producing green stools.

3) One month to five months

The stools start to become pastier and less frequent. They can be yellow or green. The number of stools per day tends to decrease as the baby grows (den Hertog 2012). The baby’s tummy cramps become less bothersome as the number of stools decrease.

4) Five months

The frequency of stooling is highly variable at this stage. Your baby may pass a stool once a day or once every 10 days, but as long as the baby is otherwise happy and growing well, there is no need to worry. The stools are runny to pasty. Stools of breastfed babies tend to be softer and larger than those of infant formula-fed babies (Weaver 1988).

5) Six months and after

Once the baby has started solid foods, the stool consistency, frequency, and colour are more like those of an adult.

The frequency may range from several per day to one every two days.

The stools are mostly brown, but the colour depends on the type of solid foods the baby is eating (Weaver 1988). For example, mashed blueberries and beets can produce vivid colour changes! 

The smell of the stool will also change, from the sweeter smell of a breast-milk stool to a more adult type of odour.

C) The stools of infant formula-fed babies

Babies who are fed infant formula tend to have different stools. After the first month, firmer stools and even constipation are more common in these babies than in breastfed babies (Moretti 2018; Pattison 2018; Quinlan 1995). The stools of infant formula-fed babies also smell sourer than those of breastfed babies (Jiang 2001).

References

den Hertog J, van Leengoed E, Kolk F, et al. The defecation pattern of healthy term infants up to the age of 3 months. Arch Dis Child Fetal Neonatal Ed. 2012 Nov;97(6)
 
Gustin J, Gibb R, Kenneally D, et al. Characterizing Exclusively Breastfed Infant Stool via a Novel Infant Stool Scale. JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr. 2018 Nov;42 Suppl 1:S5-S11
 
Jiang T, Suarez FL, Levitt MD, et al. Gas production by feces of infants. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2001 May;32(5):534-41
 
Moretti E, Rakza T, Mestdagh B, et al. The bowel movement characteristics of exclusively breastfed and exclusively formula fed infants differ during the first three months of life. Acta Paediatr. 2018 Nov 7
 
Pattison KL, Kraschnewski JL, Lehman E, et al. Breastfeeding initiation and duration and child health outcomes in the first baby study. Prev Med. 2018 Oct 1;118:1-6
 
Quinlan PT, Lockton S, Irwin J, et al. The relationship between stool hardness and stool composition in breast- and formula-fed infants. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 1995 Jan;20(1):81-90
 
Weaver LT, Ewing G, Taylor LC. The bowel habit of milk-fed infants.
J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 1988 Jul-Aug;7(4):568-71