What Is Normal For Breast And Formula Milk Babies’ Bowel Motions?

People often joke that all babies do is eat, sleep, and poo! Although not talked about as much as the other two, what’s going on in Baby’s nappy can be a source of stress for new moms. So, let’s get down to the dirty details: how often, what it should look like, and – very importantly – how best to clean it up!

For the first few days, Baby will pass sticky, dark green/black meconium stools to empty his intestines of what built up during pregnancy. After a few days, the colour will lighten.

To clean: use cotton wool balls dipped in baby oil.

Breastfed babies

It’ll be busy in the beginning, but not difficult to deal with; sometimes there’ll be just a smear, and sometimes the nappy will be full – but there will be something in almost every nappy! At first, there might be a spot or two of blood – don’t be concerned, it’s just a reaction to Mom’s hormones. After about six weeks, the poos will peter off until Baby only has one every 7–10 days. This isn’t constipation, breast milk simply has very little waste matter!
What’s waiting for you in Baby’s nappy? Breast milk stools resemble soft mustard paste, sometimes even containing little white seeds. The best part is that it has almost no smell – sorry, Dad, there’s no excuse for not changing nappies!
To clean: wipe off most of the paste, dunk Baby’s bottom in a basin of warm water, and give it a quick wash with baby soap.

Landmine alert!

  • Dark urine often accompanies baby jaundice in the first week or two
  • Dark, green stools, cramps, and constipation can be caused by iron supplements and green veggies in Mom’s diet
  • Mucus in the stool can be from dairy, grain products, and other allergenic foods in Mom’s diet
  • Medication – yours or baby’s – can cause loose stools

Formula-fed babies

Formula-fed babies often pass stools once or twice daily, from the start. What should you find in Baby’s nappy? Brown, pasty stools with occasional green tinges from the iron in the formula. You may need to get your clothes peg ready, because formula poo does not smell good! And it’s not so easy to clean, either…
To clean: wipe away the sticky contents with the inside of the disposable diaper or the nappy liner, wipe up the solid matter with toilet paper or wet wipes, and then wipe off as much residual matter as possible with a face cloth or wet wipe. Then, dunk Baby’s bottom in a basin of warm water, wash by hand with baby soap, rinse, and let it air dry for ten minutes before applying bum cream.

Landmine alert!
  • Constipation with painful, hard, pellet-like stools and little diarrhoea bouts in between can indicate that the type of formula doesn’t agree with Baby
  • Mucus in the stool can be a reaction to the formula, and may require a change
  • Explosive stools and smelly gas are common with formula-fed babies
  • Green, watery stools occurring more than twice in a row mean you should see a doctor – especially if Baby has a fever and no appetite