At the breastfeeding clinic, I have quite a few new parents expressing their concerns that their baby may be having diarrhea. I hear “my baby’s stool is liquid and runny” or “my baby has a bowel movement every time I change their diaper”. On the other hand, some parents are not so concerned when their few days old infant has not passed a stool for more than one day.
So, what is the normal stooling pattern for a newborn baby?
What are the normal colours of stool for a newborn baby?
First 2 days after birth:
- the stool of breastfed babies is dark green or black in colour and has a sticky consistency. This first stool is called meconium.
After the second day:
- the stool of breastfed babies gradually changes colour to brown/green/ yellow.
By day 5 or 6:
- the stool changes to a mustardy yellow colour. These mustardy yellow stools may look curdy or “seedy”.
When breastfeeding is going well, it is expected that the baby will have 3 or more large soft stools each day during the first 5 or 6 weeks. These stools are often described as having a yeast-like or slightly cheesy odour.
Your newborn baby should be seen by a doctor if:
- There is no stool from your baby for more than 24 hours.
- Your baby is still passing meconium on day five or six.
- If you are worried about changes in your baby’s stool.
After 6 weeks, your baby’s stooling pattern may change. Your baby’s stool may look thicker and you may notice that your baby does not have a stool for several days. As long as your baby’s stool is soft, it is completely normal for breastfed babies to have one very large yellow stool every 1 to 7 days.
If your baby is not exclusively breastfeeding and has been given infant formula, the stools may look darker in colour. They may have a stronger smell and baby may pass stool less frequently.
You can access a free Toronto Public Health Breastfeeding Clinic if you have more questions about breastfeeding your baby.