The Ultimate Guide to Newborn Poop: How Often Should Your Baby Poop?
It is true that once you have become a parent, you will see more of…
It is true that once you have become a parent, you will see more of your baby’s poop. Though the frequency may vary, you may get to see different textures of your newborn’s stool from time to time. On some occasions, you should have a closer look to ensure that nothing is wrong with your baby’s poop to signal anything wrong with your child’s overall well-being, specifically when it concerns with his/her digestive system. Whatever be it, unless you see anything unusual with the texture or smell, or if after introducing solid foods, he/she is still passing loose stools, suggesting food allergy or other reasons that may require a pediatric consultation. Let’s explore how often a newborn poop through this article!
What is Normal When It Comes to Newborn Poop Frequency?
One cannot accurately judge or interpret what is normal or abnormal in the frequency of a newborn’s poop unless one has become a parent and has sensed something unusual with the look, smell, and again, the frequency of their baby’s stool. However, since these criteria heavily rely on the type of intake, frequency, and amount that newborns consume, it would be somewhat easy to determine the same.
Poop Frequency of Breastfed vs Formula-Fed Newborns
The common belief is that breastfed babies have more frequent bowel movements than their formula-fed counterparts. However, there are occasions that tend to be just the opposite. In stating these, there seems to be some link between the frequency of a newborn’s poop and the quantity of intake it receives., whether formula or breastmilk.
An article from the Children’s Hospital Colorado (2023) has been quite informative in this regard, stating that both breastfed and formula-fed infants in their initial days of life to six weeks, poop several times a day. Agreeing with this, Chertoff (2018) mentioned that breastfed babies normally pass several stools per day, suggesting that they are getting in a good amount of breastmilk.
Understanding the Different Types of Newborn Poop
According to Chertoff (2018) again, a newborn’s waste tells everything, ranging from the amount of intake (breastmilk or formula) to its overall health. It is an infant’s dirty diapers that reflect the same, as well as the quantity of breast milk or formula it consumes.
The color of the stool at birth is dark-cum-greenish with a sticky consistency. Meconium is the first texture of a newborn’s poop, which an infant passes within 48 hours of its birth, signifying that its intestines are functioning normally (KidsHealth, 2023).
Overall, the figures have represented normal appearances of infant stools regardless of being breast or formula-fed. The nature of a newborn’s poops should not invoke any concerns, because as babies get older and start to take more solid nutrients, their stools tend to become more formed and firm other than what they were initially. It is when they experience any difficulty/strain with passing stools, have pain, and have not defecated for more than a week, or when their poops contain strains of blood, should their parents seek a pediatric consultation.
What Should Your Baby’s Poop Look Like?
The color, consistency, and nature of a baby’s poop depends on the nature of their intake, and change as they ingest more solid food along the course. The first intestinal secretion is the meconium, which consists of the amniotic fluid and other things the baby must have consumed when within the womb.
Likewise, when feeding on breastmilk or formula or both, their poops will reflect the consistency of such intakes, i.e., from a mustard-colored pale stool to a yellowish seed-like texture, and down to a more solid texture with the introduction of other solid food items. Interestingly, all these changes mark as important growth milestones for a baby. One should also note that every stool texture and color is normal for a baby as it starts ingesting more solid food for its growth.
The First Few Days – Meconium Poop
As stated earlier, meconium is the first poop that an infant excretes soon after birth (KidsHealth, 2023). It is usually thick, sticky, and dark green in texture and contains cells, fats, protein, water and intestinal secretions, including bile. Of note, infants also pass meconium in the first few days after their birth, after which, their poop gradually starts changing to become a mustard-yellow when getting in that first gulp of colostrum, i.e., breast milk in its initial form
Change in Poop Color and Consistency From Complete Meconium Expulsion
Be it the first serving of breast milk or any formula-based supplement, this should be sufficient enough to push the remaining meconium out of the baby’s intestine (Cleveland Clinic, 2023). In some cases, a fetus can pass meconium while still in the womb, but this happens in case of delayed birth (Cleveland Clinic, 2023).
Meconium and Its Harmful Impact
There are also some cases in which a fetus swallows its meconium while still in the womb. While this is harmless, breathing on this substance may risk a child’s life before, during, or after it is born, a condition called “Meconium Aspiration Syndrome” (MAS) (KidsHealth, 2023). Since a meconium-stained amniotic fluid is the primary cause of MAS, this leads to complications, which can be life-threatening for a newborn, making it suffer from conditions such as respiratory distress and upper respiratory tract infection. The chance being 12% to 20% for every newborn, this requires intensive neonatal treatment and care.
Other Complications of Inability to Pass Meconium at Birth
What could be considered more abnormal related to the meconium poop is the inability of the newborns to pass it within 48 hours, in turn suggesting underlying causes, such as Meconium ileus, Cystic fibrosis, Intestinal blockage, Underdeveloped rectum, Meconium plug, and Hirschsprung disease. Cases like these doubtlessly warrant medical attention and neonatal care.
Breastfed vs Formula-Fed Babies: Differences in Poop Frequency
It has been generally observed that breastfed babies have more poop frequency than their formula-fed counterparts. The exclusively breastfed infants are typically seen to pass liquidy poops than what can be seen in those completely relying on formula, where the former can also go without having bowel movements, or the least, infrequent stools for several days, or even weeks.
Out of the 84 infants that remained for the study after three months 40 exclusively breastfed and 13 exclusively formula-fed babies were taken for the final comparison, in which it was found that the daily poop frequency of the breastfed babies was significantly higher than that of the second group who were solely on formula in the first month. Additionally, the stool consistency was more liquid in the breastfed compared to those fed on formula in the first three months of the study. However, infrequent bowel movements also occurred among exclusively breastfed babies, coming to around 3.5 times more likely than in those fed on formula.
It should also be noted that among the respective 40 and 13 exclusively breastfed and exclusively formula-fed babies, about 28% of the former were found to have infrequent or irregular bowel movements than the 8% of the latter. This study led to the interpretation that though stool frequency is higher in the solely breast-fed infants than those on formula, there will be occasions where one can expect infrequent or irregular bowel movements in the former.
How Often Should You Expect Your Baby to Poop?
Per any medical expert’s advice or opinion, or from the experiences of the mothers who have had their baby recently, parents (both expecting and new) can reasonably expect their newborns to have frequent bowel movements, precisely two to five times a day for about six weeks, after which they can expect to see a gradual decrease in the frequency of their baby’s bowel movements, especially when he/she is introduced to new food items from six months onwards, opined Villines (2020). Hence, unless one’s baby is experiencing any difficulty or strain with passing poop, even if it is once a day or two times a week, one need not worry (Watson, 2022)
Signs That Your Baby’s Poop May Be Abnormal
Should a baby’s poop appear white (due to insufficient bile production), black (sign of blood digested from the stomach or small intestine), or contain red streaks, such as blood from the colon or rectum, such instances would definitely suggest that something is wrong with the baby’s digestive system or alimentary canal.
Tips for Dealing With Common Poop-Related Issues in Newborns
Constipation happens to be one of the most common problems that a newborn can face when passing its poop. observed Neha Pathak MD (2021). Parents, therefore, need to be attentive in this matter, especially when they have not noticed their newborn having a bowel movement for days or weeks.
While constipation is uncommon in newborns, they may be, however, having infrequent bowel movements after six weeks or so. Nevertheless, it is wise to seek urgent medical attention when the baby is experiencing issues, such as hard, dry stools, vomiting, not wanting to breastfeed, having a dry mouth, and appears more fussy than usual.
Pain When Passing Poop
Since newborn babies tend to absorb most of the nutrient-rich breast milk, it is even more likely for their intestines to process and move such large milk contents in a slower manner, especially because their digestive system is still developing (Pathak, 2021). This is one of those instances that make breastfed infants poop once a day or two days. Others may be having a much slower gut, prohibiting them from going very often, and as a result, their stools tend to become hard from time to time, which is why such babies find it painful to move their bowels.
Infrequent Poops in Breastfed and Formula-Fed Newborns
For breastfeeding newborns that are having infrequent poops, they should have some time and space between each feeding, where this will allow sufficient time for their intestines to move the contents. On the other hand, stooling issues in babies feeding on formula should seek a pediatric consultation rather than applying home remedies. As such, the physician may recommend changing the schedule and measurement of the formula
Flatulence in Infants, potential causes, and How to Solve the Issue
Some infants tend to pass more gas, instead of poop. While this is not a major concern, one can still consider it as an irregular poop pattern, likely a reaction to the changing surroundings, observed Iftikhar (2023). Again, seeking a pediatric consultation is a must in this regard, especially if the problem persists.
When to Consult a Pediatrician About Your Newborn’s Poop?
When it comes to determining when parents should seek a physician’s (pediatrician’s) assistance for issues regarding their newborn’s bowel habits, Below is a figure showing what normal and abnormal poop looks like:
figure: When to Consult a Pediatrician About Your Newborn’s Poop
Conclusion: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby’s Poop
As a new parent, one needs to know that the consistency, color, and frequency of one’s baby’s poop will change and this will happen at a gradual pace. The type and amount of food a baby ingests at birth to one year causes the color, consistency, and frequency of its poop to change over the course of time. While the frequency of poop for a newborn is approximately four to five times a day with some variations in the case of a formula-fed baby, and also with intermittent irregularities/infrequencies in poops of breastfed babies, situations such as these should not be a matter of concern unless your baby’s diapers are showing anything unusual in the consistency of its poop from what it should be at a given time.
Besides, since issues like constipation are uncommon for newborn infants because most of them are solely breastfed, this leaves very little chance for parents to worry even if their babies go without having frequent bowel movements at some point. To wind up, by referring to the poop guide in the above figure, parents will be able to discern when to be concerned about and seek medical advice.