Baby Poop: What’s Normal and What’s Not?


Posted 10.28.10 | Mallory West

During the first months of life, parents pay close attention to their baby’s bowel movements. Any variation from what they perceive as a “normal poop” can cause a lot of anxiety for a parent. So what exactly is a “normal poop or bowel movement”? The answer is complex; every baby is different so what is considered “normal” will vary from baby to baby.

The color, consistency and frequency of bowel movements may differ. It will depend on if the baby is breast-fed or formula-fed, as well as the mom’s diet or the type of formula used. Below are some general guidelines to help you with your diaper expectations.

Color & Consistency:

  • Breast-fed babies: An exclusively breast-fed baby’s stools will be a light mustard color and often will have seed-like specs. In terms of consistency, stools may range from very soft to loose and runny.
  • Formula-fed babies: For a baby consuming standard (milk or soy-based) infant formula, stools are generally tan or yellow in color. When it comes to consistency, a breast-fed baby will have comparatively firmer stools but usually not firmer than a peanut butter consistency.
  • Neocate babies: If your baby is on an elemental formula, like Neocate, stools may be greenish in color and are often relatively dark (but not black, black can indicate blood in the stools so always contact the doctor if you see this). This is completely normal and is due to the special composition of Neocate and the way it is digested in the body.

Regardless if your baby drinks breast milk or formula, blood in the stool is not typical so if you see this, you should let the physician know right away.

Frequency:

The frequency of bowel movements varies greatly from baby to baby. Some newborn babies may have a bowel movement after each feeding and others may go once a day or even once every two days. During the first weeks of life, before you have learned your baby’s pooping pattern, it is generally advised to call the physician if the baby goes three or more days without a bowel movement.

  • Breast-fed babies: After the first month, breast-fed babies usually have fewer bowel movements than before. It some cases, it is normal for a baby to have only one bowel movement a week. Breast milk leaves little solid waste so bowel movements are less frequent However, as long as the stools are soft (no firmer than peanut butter) and the baby is healthy and growing, there is no reason for concern.
  • Formula-fed babies: Formula-fed babies typically have one or more bowel movement a day. If you are concerned that your baby has infrequent bowel movements or notice that he/she is straining to pass a bowel movement, this may indicate that he/she is constipated so check with the doctor.
  • Neocate babies: Because Neocate is so broken down, it is very easily digested and there is very little waste leftover. Therefore it’s normal for bowel movements to decrease in frequency once you switch to Neocate. As long as stools aren’t overly hard and dry and the baby doesn’t seem to have trouble passing them, this is perfectly normal.

Constipation:

Regardless if your baby is breast-fed or formula-fed, hard or dry stools that are difficult to pass may indicate constipation. Talk with the doctor about what you can do to help. Sometimes the solution is as simple as providing additional fluids. Other times, the doctor will prescribe a laxative to make it easier for your baby to pass bowel movements.

Diarrhea:

Because a newborn’s stools may be soft and slightly runny, it may be difficult to tell if they have diarrhea. A significant increase in frequency or an extremely liquid bowel movement are signs to look for. Severe diarrhea can cause dehydration so if you are concerned that your baby has diarrhea, contact the physician.

With Baby Poop, Normal Depends on the Baby

The general message for this post is that every baby has their own “normal poop” and what’s normal for one baby may not be normal for another. The key is to look out for any sudden change in your baby’s normal bowel movements. Keep in mind that occasional variations are normal, especially once a baby begins taking solid foods.

Hopefully this gives you some guidance for what to expect at diaper changing time. Keep in mind that you know your baby best, so if you’re ever concerned about your baby’s bowel movements, contact the physician just in case. What have you experienced? What advice would you share with other moms?

Read Comments (38)

  • 2012-02-25 | Miriam Clouse

    Just curious. My son is working on table foods now and has been on neonate for 8 mths now. Done GREAT! I gave him a BIG bowl of baby oatmeal last night and today his poop is green and grainy. Is this normal for a neonate baby?

  • 2012-02-29 | Mallory

    Hi Miriam- Every baby’s “normal” is a little different. In general, green stools are normal for children on an elemental formula like Neocate but if it is different than it has been for the last 8 months that he has been on Neocate, it might be something to discuss with the physician. Best wishes!

  • 2012-05-10 | Machelle Weeks

    My son has been on NeoCate for a week now after coming off of Nutramigen.  His poops are now a grayish/blackish green and are cake batter in consistency.  Sometimes he poops out of his diaper.  Is this color and consistency typical with this formula?

  • 2012-05-22 | Mallory

    Hi Machelle- Again, every baby is a little different in terms of what their “normal” poop is like. However, the dark green color is very typical with an elemental formula like Neocate.

  • 2012-09-12 | Mallory

    My son has been on Neocate for a few months because of allergies and damaged intestinal villi. After a few weeks on Neocate, he had fewer dirty diapers (doc said that was an indication that the villi had regrown) but they smell HORRIBLE. I mean, really, horribly stinky, and have continued to be stinky, along with that dark greenish grey previously mentioned. Is the bad smell also normal for this formula? My son was breastfed previously and his dirty diapers did not have much smell.

  • 2012-09-14 | Mallory

    We do hear from other Neocate parents about the green color and smelly diapers so I would say that what you are experiencing is pretty normal. That said, always talk with the physician if you are concerned.

  • 2013-01-07 | erin

    My child switched to neocate last week. The last four days she has diarrhea twice a day. There is no substance in her stool what-so-ever, just a dark hunter green liquid. Before switching to neocate she never had this problem. Can switching formulas cause this problem even after a full week

  • 2013-01-09 | Mallory

    Hi Erin, we generally say to give it at least 2 weeks for the body to adjust to any new formula and to see the full benefits of Neocate. If you are still noticing very loose stools after this time or if it gets worse, we’d recommend giving the pediatrician a call. The green color is totally normal with Neocate.

  • 2013-01-13 | Milli

    Our baby has been having green/yellow loose to watery stool with mucous and small amt of blood, she’s on her 5th day taking neocate, when will the blood stop showing up?

  • 2013-01-13 | Maggie

    My daughter has been on Neocate for 4 days.  I know the green color is normal, but it has white specs in it and is somewhat slimey.  Is this normal?  Thank you.

  • 2013-01-14 | Rob

    Milli,
    Every little one is different in the amount of time they need to see an improvement with Neocate. It takes time to clear allergens out of their systems and also for their tissues to heal, which is why we suggest trying Neocate for two weeks. It may be best to check with your daughter’s doctor, though, to make sure that is what they’d like you to do.

  • 2013-01-14 | Rob

    Maggie,
    We hear from parents that each infant on Neocate has a slightly different experience in terms of color, consistency, and frequency. You may see changes in these characteristics over the first few weeks that your daughter is on Neocate as her gut adjusts to a new formula.

    We’ve heard from parents who have seen small white specks before, so you aren’t alone. This is something that many breastfeeding moms observe also. Just to be sure, you may want to check with your daughter’s healthcare team to make sure they aren’t concerned.

  • 2013-01-20 | Lena

    Hi. My daughter has been on Neocate for about a month or slightly longer, her poop color alternates from grey to bright yellow. I already understand that grey is normal, but is seeing yellow poop normal for neocate?

  • 2013-01-24 | Roopal

    My daughter started neocate 3 days ago and her stools which were primarily green mucus with blood specs in them prior, are now a darker green, have stringy mucus vs globs, some specs of blood but less than recent diapers on BM, and now have yellow seeds. Is this a typical transition for a breastfed baby switching to neocate due to allergic colitis?

  • 2013-01-25 | Mallory

    Lena, every baby has a different normal. If her doctor is pleased with her growth and she seems to be tolerating the formula well, I wouldn’t worry too much about the color. You may mention it to the doctor at your next visit just in case, but yellow isn’t an abnormal color for baby poop.

  • 2013-01-25 | Mallory

    Hi Roopal,
    There is always a transition period when switching to a new formula so I would give it at least 2 weeks to allow every thing to settle down in her digestive tract. The dark green color is normal with Neocate and the fact that the blood is going away is a good sign. We don’t often hear about stringy mucus or globs, but it takes time for the allergens from her previous formula to clear from her system, so that could be what you are seeing. If you are still noticing it after the 2 week period, we’d recommend giving the doctor a call to be safe. We hope she continues to get better!

  • 2013-09-18 | Michelle

    My daughter is 6 months old and has strictly been on Neocate for 2 1/2 months now for MFPA. The first several weeks her BM were dark green. The last couple days they have been tan in color. Is this something I should be concerned about? She does seem to be a little more uncomfortable in the evenings.

  • 2013-09-25 | Mallory

    Hi Michelle,
    The dark green color is very common for babies on Neocate, but we do hear about variation in color from day to day. If you’re concerned about a sudden change in your baby’s stools, we recommend asking the pediatrician about it, just to be safe.
    Best,
    Mallory

  • 2013-10-01 | cristina ciaramitaro

    my son is 7 weeks old and has been on neocate for a week. he is yet to have a bowel movement. he has had some wet farts. before this he was on nutramigen and went everyday. im concerned that he hasnt had one bowel movement. i even tried a suppository and nothing cAme out but a little watery green stuff.

  • 2013-10-01 | Christine Graham-Garo

    Dear Cristina,
    Usually, if it has been longer than 4 days with no bowel movements, it is best to speak to the doctor. It is common to see a decrease in the baby’s bowel movement frequency once on Neocate, but it is not common to see constipation while on Neocate. Talk to the doctor as he/she may have suggestions that can help. The green color is typical for Neocate babies. We are happy to talk further. Call us at 1-800 NEOCATE, 8:30am-5pm, Mo-Fri.
    Best wishes,
    Christine

  • 2013-10-26 | A Crespo

    My son has tried every formula on the market.  He has terrible reflux.  At six weeks, he had surgery for malrotation.  He was just switched from alimentum to neocate because he had very loose / mucousy stools.  After started the neocate, his stools have become even looser, almost soup like.  I don’t know what to do.  He also has terrible gas pains. Is this normal?

  • 2013-10-28 | Rob McCandlish

    A Crespo,
    Every baby has a slightly different Neocate experience, so there really isn’t any “normal.” With questions like this, it’s best to check with your son’s healthcare team. They can answer your questions in light of his medical conditions and with a thorough clinical assessment.
    Hang in there!
    Rob

  • 2014-10-27 | Tosha

    My son has been threw a few formula changes from sensitive to soy to nutram and not he’s on the neocate and almost 5 months old. The doctor says he has a milk protein allergy but my concern is that when he was on the nutramagen her had diarrhea all the time and every diaper needed new clothes cause it would go up his back. Now he has ben on the Neocate for a month and his poos was getting better but the past week he is having the diarrhea again and its basically so watery the diaper absorbs most of it. he also has a sour smell to him and his spit up is really sour smelling. He sees a GI but he doesn’t say to much. Any help???

  • 2014-10-28 | Rob McCandlish, RDN

    Hi Tosha,
    I’m sorry to hear that you’ve been through so many formulas. Every baby has a slightly different experience on Neocate in terms of frequency and consistency of bowel movements. The best thing to do would be to check with your son’s healthcare team. If he had been pretty consistent and then experienced a sudden change, it might be related to something other than the formula, like a mild illness such as a cold. The healthcare team can help you see if anything else might be related.
    Best of luck to you,
    Rob

  • 2014-12-29 | Heathe

    my LO was EBF for the first month. The day of her first well visit there was mucus present and Dr immediately put her on Similac alimentum. She cried for hours and refused bottles on similac, from there she was put on neocate. since neocate she is less fussy, but more gassy, watery stools, sleeping less and still has mucus. she has been on neocate for a month and still does not seem as content like she was on breastmilk. Is this typical for neocate?

  • 2014-12-30 | hanna

    My 6 month old came back fom his dad was over there for 2 day and now he has green liquid seedy mucus in his stool i ask his dad if they give him any thing that had seeds in it and sad no and everthing he is eating for me he has been eating sents he was 4 months old.

  • 2015-01-05 | Rob McCandlish, RDN

    Hi Hanna,
      There are lots of things that can affect what a baby’s bowel movements look like, and lots of things that are “normal” or at least “not unusual” to see in a diaper. Seed-like specks are not unusual, especially among breast-fed babies. It’s best to check with your little one’s pediatrician though if you have any concerns or if there are any signs or symptoms that seem unusual.
      Best of luck,
    Rob

  • 2015-01-05 | Rob McCandlish, RDN

    Hi Heathe,
      It’s good to hear that your little one is less fussy since starting Neocate. It typically takes 2-3 weeks to see the full benefit for cow milk allergy symptoms from Neocate. What you’re describing in terms of the gas and stool consistency for formulas like Neocate, which are digested differently from breast milk and “standard” formulas. We also hear from some parents that they still see mucus. It would be best to check with the healthcare team to see if they have any additional recommendations, but they may tell you that this isn’t different from what they see for some infants on Neocate or similar formulas.
      Best of luck,
    Rob

  • 2015-08-15 | Lisa

    My son was sx with acid reflux, on zantac, and on neocate. He’s tried and failed different formulas. Referral to GI pending. Working on a stool culture. Since he’s been on neocate he’s got terrible gas. Smells worse than a stink bomb. Has gone every two days. Slightly fussy but sleeps well. Only able to pass a bowel movement as long as he’s laying down. His stool is really dark green with a little speck of yellow. Should i be concern? Please help me.

  • 2015-08-17 | Nutrition Specialist

    Hi Lisa,
      See some of the replies to the comments above. With Neocate it’s not unusual to see bowel movements less often (once every day or every other day) as well as the dark green color. A lot of parents also report their little one has gas on amino acid-based formula. The best thing to do if you have more questions is to ask your son’s healthcare team.
      Best of luck,
    Rob

  • 2015-11-21 | Valerie

    My son is on neocate for 1.5 weeks now and I noticed still a little bit of blood in his stool. Is this normal ?

  • 2015-11-22 | Nicole

    My daughter has been in neocate infant for 2 months. After sher stools adjusted we do still get the brown grainy look recently we have been getting a lot of greyish look with some dark green speckled through it. Is this normal getting very dark dark gray?

  • 2015-11-23 | Nutrition Specialist

    Hi Valerie- There is always a transition period when switching to a new formula, generally about 2 weeks which allows time for the digestive tract to adjust.  The small amount of blood may be related to this process, however;  if you are concerned, then you may want to discuss this with your healthcare provider.

  • 2015-11-23 | Neocate Admin

    Hi Nicole- The dark green color is very common for babies on Neocate and so is variation in color from day to day.  You may want to refer to one of our previous blogs that talks about this http://www.neocate.com/blog/baby-poop-whats-normal-and-whats-not/
    Hope this helps
    -Jody

  • 2016-06-02 | Julie

    My son has been on Neocate for 6 days after switching from Nutramigen due to diarrhea and rash. His poop are hunter green and still remain pretty liquid (very small amount of consistency). But he is having way less stools per day (about 3). I’m concerned about the consistency being okay?

  • 2016-06-03 | Nutrition Specialist

    Hi Julie - As you may have read above, the color you describe is pretty typical, and most babies have fewer stools on Neocate. As for the consistency, it really varies! It can take about 2 weeks to adjust to a new formula, so you might see a change in the consistency in the next few days. There’s a bit more info in this blog: http://bit.ly/DiaperQnA

    The best thing to do if you’re concerned is ask the healthcare team. Hang in there!
    -Rob

  • 2016-08-07 | Lisa

    My 5 month old has been on Neocate for a month. Her poop varies from dark green and thick to dark green and a bit watery to a light greenish tan with some white specks. This can vary throughout the day and day to day. She also started to have more frequent poops then when we first put her on the formula. She has around 4 poops a day this last week. Just want to know if other people have said this to happen.

  • 2016-08-08 | Nutrition Specialist

    Hi Lisa,
      It’s not unusual to see variations of greens and tans with Neocate, and consistency and frequency can certainly vary too. You can also expect changes when you introduce solid foods into her diet. We’ve heard everything in the book! Other parents: What was your experience?
      Rob

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