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Know-how: Baby Poo

What colour should baby poo be? And how many filled nappies a day is normal?

Posted: 21 September 2009
by Laura Lee Davies

Changing a baby's nappy is a sitcom gag classic. However, while all new parents may dread this complicated looking ritual, they soon get so used to it that they find themselves happily discussing poo at breakfast, on the phone to friends, in cafés - everywhere!

What colour is baby's poo?
As a new parent, you will be amazed at how interesting a newborn's poo can be!
Unfortunately, your baby's first nappy is also one of his scariest! This is because the first stool is a result of all the things he has swallowed that have floated around in the womb with him including amniotic fluid and his own downy hair. Thus, this first nappy will have a dark appearance with a thick, tar-like texture.This is completely normal and nothing to worry about.
As your baby settles into a milk-feeding routine he will start to do more regular poos, though these are still quite runny and tend to be yellow or green (mustard) in colour. Even if the colour varies, this is nothing to be concerned about.
If you are breastfeeding, you will find the poo is usually lighter in colour and sweeter smelling. You may also find that what you eat affects the colour or consistency of your baby's poo, but as long as you are eating well, you don't need to stop eating strong-tasting foods such as curry or rich meats. (Any medication you might be taking may also affect it – always mention to a prescribing doctor and pharmacist that you are breastfeeding.)
If your baby is on formula, or you are beginning to introduce formula feeds alongside breastfeeds, you may notice a change. Formula-fed babies tend to have slightly less runny and slightly more stronger smelling poos.
Additionally, if your baby has recently had a vaccination or you have given him a medicine, this may also affect the texture and colour of his poo, but this change is only passing.
Once your baby starts to eat solids at about six months, you will gradually notice a real change. The poo will begin to look more like regular brown poo and will, unfortunately, also start to pong more! For more about what to expect from this, go to nappies and weaning. If the poo gets much more solid or even a little dry, offer your baby more breastmilk or cool, boiled water as he might need more fluids.

How often do babies poo?
New babies will most likely poo several times a day, however they are still getting used to feeding, so do not worry if your baby goes for one or two days without a bowel movement every now and again. (On days when your baby does not poo, do make sure that your baby is weeing still. If he is not, contact your GP.)
Once your baby is weaning, you can expect filled nappies to become less frequent, but still, on average, your baby will poo two or three times a day. Again, if your baby goes for a day without a bowel movement but is wetting his nappies you shouldn't have anything to worry about, but do gauge if your baby looks uncomfortable or is showing signs of having a sore tummy, in which case speak to your GP.
By the age of one, your child will probably only do one or two poo-filled nappies a day and sometimes there might only be a small amount of poo. Don't be alarmed if those raisins you give him to snack on come through his digestive system intact!
Between one and three years your toddler will still be in a nappy (though some parents like to try potty-training by about two and a half, go with your instinct and do this when your child appears ready). He will probably only be pooing once or twice a day. If he is not doing this on a regular basis or often goes for several days without a poo, see your GP. There might not be anything to worry about, but constipation can get very serious with small children.
All the while, allowing your baby or toddler to be active (not tied into a pushchair for extended periods of your day) and keeping up good fluids will really help your child have a happy pooing experience!

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