What To Look For When You’re On Diaper Duty

We take a look at what you should see in your baby’s diaper at all stages of development


Poop talk. We try to keep our toddlers from doing it (at least at daycare). But because a newborn makes it feel like you are changing diapers all day long, it is important for parents to know what’s going on in your little one’s diaper.

Babies can produce waste anywhere from once every three days to over four times a day. You’ll learn your child’s diaper habits pretty quickly, and mostly there shouldn’t be any cause for concern. Here’s what to look for to make sure you’re baby is pooping healthy, and what to watch for.

Newborn Poo

Newborn excretion can be notoriously unexpected and disgusting. It can take a long time for a new parent to clean up, and here’s why. For the first couple of days, all your baby’s stools are made up of food digested in the womb, including amniotic fluid and mucus. It’s called meconium, and is usually very black, highly sticky and a lot like motor oil. At 2-4 days the diapers should start to change, turning very green. That’s a good sign your baby has started digesting breast milk or formula.

Breastfeeding Diapers

While breastfeeding, it’s normal for your child’s excretions to be yellow with slight tinges of green. It should have mushy or creamy consistency, but can sometimes be a little runny, slightly like diarrhea. A slight range in colour is nothing to worry about; it just means mom ate something out of the ordinary. You should watch for bright green, foamy diapers; that kind of colouring means your baby needs to feed longer on each breast.

Formula-Feeding Stools

If your baby is fed on formula, they should be pooping at least once a day in order to be comfortable and avoid constipation. Their diaper waste should look thick and creamy with a range of browns, from tans to dark chocolates. You’ll notice their diapers will smell more than a breast-fed baby’s, but not so much as the diapers of a solids eater.  

Solid Food-Fed Diapers

After your baby starts eating solid food, their diapers will change once again. The colour should be a smattering of dark browns, but thicker, mushier and much smellier than before. Your baby could also have chunks of undigested food in their waste, but this should not cause any concern. It can mean that the food either wasn’t chewed well enough or travelled too quickly through their little bodies. If this happens too much, try changing your baby’s diet, making sure they get a wider range of foods. If you notice they have undigested food consistently you might want to go for a checkup with their pediatrician to make sure everything’s moving fine in your baby’s digestive system.

What To Watch For

Most ranges in excretions’ consistency and colour fall under the “completely normal” category, but there are a couple things you should watch for that may signify a larger issue.  

Black stool: If your child’s stools turn black, it is a sign that they have digested blood at some point. This can be as simple as feeding from a cracked nipple, or it can be more serious, like a bleed in the upper digestive tract. If a black stool persists, you should see your pediatrician.

Diarrhea: We all know what diarrhea looks like, and for a baby it’s no different. It’s watery, explodes out of their diaper and may necessitate a bath. It can also be a sign of infection and lead to your baby becoming dehydrated. You should visit the pediatrician if your baby is three months or younger and has two diarrhea diapers in more than two days.

Constipation: Baby excrement is usually thick and mushy, or a little watery. If their waste starts for form into balls, and especially if it becomes hard, it means they are constipated. You can usually tell when your baby’s constipated because they will look visibly uncomfortable when pooping. Constipation can be caused by an introduction to solid food or if there’s an intolerance to something in the breast milk. You should give your baby a little prune juice to help move things along.

Mucus: When there’s mucus in the excrement, it will look shiny and green, and may have strings of slime mixed in. This is a tell tale sign of allergy or infection. If it persists for more than two days, you should definitely call your pediatrician.

Bloody Stools: Blood in your baby’s diaper means a visit to the doctor immediately. It’s probably from a tear in the anus after constipation or a small hemorrhoid. But bleeding can also be caused by an infection, allergy or intolerance to something they’re eating. Your pediatrician will be able to diagnose and treat the issue. 

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