What's in the Diaper?

While you may never have been so interested in stools in your life, checking your baby’s diaper has probably become a regular part of your day. Some babies pass a stool with every feeding; others may have one every day or so. Breastfed babies may go even longer, but then will have a large stool of normal color and consistency.

Breastfed babies’ stools are black and sticky the first few days of life as meconium is flushed from the system. Then they usually turn a yellow mustard color (though they may briefly be brownish green just after the meconium passes), get “seedy” and have a faint scent. You may also see small, cottage-cheese-like lumps in the stool.

Infrequent bowel movements can occur in breastfed babies, but if this happens in the first 2 weeks, when breastfeeding is just being established, it could mean the baby is not getting enough milk. If you’re concerned, ask your pediatrician.

However, if your breastfed baby has not had a bowel movement for 4–6 days, or has one that looks like hard pebbles and seems uncomfortable, check with your pediatrician. Your baby may be constipated and your doctor can suggest safe remedies.

Formula-fed babies’ stools are brown and have a stronger odor; sometimes the stools are soft and other times formed. If your formula-fed baby has a stool that looks like hard pebbles and seems uncomfortable, check with your pediatrician. Your baby may be constipated and your doctor can suggest safe remedies.

For both breastfed and formula-fed babies, if your baby has frequent, watery stools over 6–8 hours or looser stools than usual, she may have diarrhea and you should contact her healthcare provider. On rare occasions, consistently loose and foul-smelling stools can signal a more serious issue, so tell your doctor about them.

See also ...

•  VIDEO: The Scoop on Poop

This message is not intended to provide individual medical advice. Always seek the advice of a physician or qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have about your health or medical condition, your breastfeeding issues and your infant's health. Never disregard, avoid or delay contacting a doctor or other qualified professional because of something you have read in our emails, webpages or other electronic communications.

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