I'm breast-feeding my newborn and her bowel movements are yellow and mushy. Is this normal for baby poop?
Answers from Jay L. Hoecker, M.D.
Yellow, mushy bowel movements are perfectly normal for breast-fed babies. Still, there are many shades of normal when it comes to baby poop. Here's a color-by-color guide:
- Green-black. After birth, a baby's first bowel movements are greenish-black and tarry. This type of baby poop is known as meconium.
- Green-brown. As the baby begins digesting breast milk, meconium is replaced with green-brown and then yellow-brown bowel movements.
- Yellow. By about five days after birth, breast-fed babies usually have seedy, loose bowel movements that are yellow to yellow-green or tan in color.
- Brown. If you feed your baby formula, his or her bowel movements might become light brown and pasty.
- Other colors. When your baby begins eating solid food, his or her bowel movements might become dark brown — although seemingly odd colors are possible as well. For example, baby poop might look red after your baby eats beets or might contain streaks of dark blue after he or she eats blueberries. Green and orange baby poop is possible, too. You might also find chunks of undigested food in your baby's bowel movements.
As you change your baby's diapers, pay attention to the consistency of his or her bowel movements. Breast-fed babies often have loose, watery stools. However, especially watery bowel movements might indicate diarrhea — and bowel movements that look like pebbles could indicate constipation.
If you're concerned about the color or consistency of your baby's bowel movements, contact your baby's doctor. This is especially important if your baby's bowel movements are:
- Black after the first few days after birth
- Red or bloody
- White or gray
- Consistently watery
- Consistently large, hard or difficult to pass
When you contact the doctor, be prepared to describe your baby's bowel movements, including color, consistency, volume and frequency. The more details you provide, the better the doctor will be able to help you determine what's normal for your baby — and when treatment might be needed.
Feb. 22, 2012
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- Bekkali N, et al. Infant stool form scale: Development and results. Journal of Pediatrics. 2009;154:521.
- Pooping. In: Altmann TR. Mommy Calls: Dr. Tanya Answers Parents' Top 101 Questions About Babies and Toddlers. Elk Grove, Ill.: American Academy of Pediatrics; 2009:55.