You probably never thought you would, but now that you have a new baby, you will become an expert at nappy changing and baby poo!
Many new parents have never seen a breastfed baby’s bowel motions, so any slight change in appearance or amount can cause concern. Knowing what is normal can be reassuring.
In the early weeks, frequent poos are one reliable way to show that your baby is getting enough milk.
How often do babies poo?
In the early weeks, your baby will have at least 3 bowel motions a day, sometimes one after each feed. If there is less than one poo a day, this usually means your baby needs more breastmilk.
From about 6 to 8 weeks of age, the number of soiled nappies may vary from day to day and from baby to baby. Some babies continue to poo very frequently – at each feed. Others will do one bowel motion every 2 to 10 days. As long as the poos are soft and unformed, all is well.
What do normal poos look and smell like?
During the first week, your baby’s bowel motions will change from dark and sticky to a mustard colour by about day 5. Normal breastfed baby poo ranges from yellow through to greenish gold or brown. If your baby’s poo looks greener but they are otherwise healthy and contentedly feeding, then this is nothing to worry about.
Breastfed baby poo doesn’t really have much of smell. In some babies it can even smell sweet and overall, it isn’t offensive.
Breastfed baby poo is mostly runny, sometimes it's more like toothpaste, sometimes with small curds, a bit like cottage cheese. Poos can vary in thickness. Some people wonder if runny poo means that baby has diarrhoea, however this is very rare in a breastfed baby. Diarrhoea would look green, be full of mucus and smell bad.
If you introduce formula top-up feeds, your baby’s bowel motions will change. They will become less liquid, more formed and have a stronger smell than before. Similarly, once you introduce solids, baby’s poo will become more formed.
If you are still breastfeeding and your baby’s poo is formed or hard and pebbly, this indicates that they need more breastmilk. Increase the number of feeds and check in with your doctor or child health nurse.
How much poo is normal?
Poo ‘size’ can range from a small ‘skid’ on the nappy through to a ‘poonami’. Many babies who do more infrequent poos, will often do one very large one. If your baby is like this, you will learn to anticipate this and carry extra sets of clothes for both of you if you go out.
When baby’s poo looks different
If your baby continues to have many bowel motions a day, has a lot of wet nappies and they are unsettled, you may have an oversupply of milk.
If there are a lot of poos which are explosive, green and/ or frothy, this may indicate lactose overload which is a result of an oversupply.
If your baby appears in pain, has wind/colic in the bowel and has bowel motions with mucus and/or blood in them, this may be a sign of food intolerance or allergy.
If you are concerned about the appearance or smell of your baby’s bowel motions, it can be reassuring to check with your doctor.
© Australian Breastfeeding Association April 2022