Newborn Poop Is Green (And That’s 100 Percent Normal)
If you never babysat as a teen or looked after younger siblings, caring for a newborn comes with a few surprises: like the fact newborn poop is green.
So it's wild how a nurse hands you a screaming newborn and sends you out the door. No troubleshooting guide or anything.
If you're not sure what type of baby poop is normal and what's not, you're not alone. Let's demystify the ins and outs of newborn digestion. (Crappy pun intended.)
Why Newborn Poop Is Different Than Yours
Let's start with the obvious. Newborn poop looks nothing like that of an older child or an adult. The reason why is simple: They don't eat actual food. If you lived off of nothing but liquids, your poop would look funky too.
Baby poop evolves in tandem with their dietary needs. After a newborn settles into a regular feeding routine, their poop should be fairly consistent until they begin eating solids. That's when their poop will gradually start to look more like yours.
The evolution is complete when they stop drinking breastmilk or formula altogether.
What to Expect From Their First Few Diaper Changes
When you go to change your baby's diaper for the first time and see dark, tarry goo, don't panic. In the first 24-48 hours after birth, newborns produce a type of stool called meconium.
Meconium is made up of any materials ingested in utero, like amniotic fluid, skin cells and mucus. Icky, but normal. It's usually dark olive green or even black. It's also sticky and hard to get off. Fortunately, meconium only lasts for a day or two.
Breastfed vs. Formula-Fed Poop
After the first few diaper changes, a newborn's poop starts to include digested milk or formula. The poop of breastfed babies and formula-fed babies looks different, with those receiving a combination of the two falling somewhere in the middle.
Breastfed baby poop:
- Is usually mustard yellow, light green or light brown
- Has a paste-like, seedy texture
- Somewhat looks like diarrhea (but it's not)
- Smells sweet
Formula-fed baby poop:
- Is similar in color to breastfed poop, but usually darker and thicker in texture
- Is passed less frequently than breastfed baby poop, but in greater amounts
- Is usually smellier
All of these variations are normal, and texture or scent isn't correlated with health. Different shades of yellow, brown or green newborn poop are all within the normal spectrum.
Babies who are receiving iron supplements often have greenish poop. If there are flecks of black in a breastfed baby's poop, that's likely from digesting blood from mom's cracked or irritated skin.
Icky, but nothing to worry about, and nothing that some lanolin cream and a visit with a lactation consultant can't fix.
When to Ask Your Doc
While some variation in baby poop consistency and coloration is normal, there are some red flags to look out for. Black poop is only normal in the first 48 hours after birth. If black, tarry stool recurs beyond that, or if you notice streaks of red blood in their stool, it could be a sign of an infection or allergy.
Other types of stool that warrant a visit to the doctor include:
White baby poop: This may be a sign your baby isn't producing enough bile and isn't digesting food correctly
Diarrhea: Poop that's looser or waterier than normal, or foul-smelling, may be diarrhea. This can lead to dehydration if left untreated.
Pebble-like poop: Constipation can be a sign of a sensitivity to milk or soy, or an allergy to something a breastfeeding mom is eating
Expect to see several different types of poop in the first year of your baby's life, but consult with your doctor immediately if you notice any of the above.
Also, you know your baby better than anyone else (even if it doesn't always feel like it). If you notice a difference in their behavior, visible discomfort or they just seem "off," trust your instincts. Even babies with normal poop can develop bothersome food allergies, or uncomfortable conditions like acid reflux. An extra trip to the pediatrician can rule out any problems and put your mind at ease.
For more details about what's normal to see in your newborn's diaper, watch the video below.