What's in your baby's nappy

What will my newborn's poos be like?


For the first couple of days after the birth, your baby will pass meconium. This is made up of mucus, amniotic fluid, and everything your baby has ingested while she was in your womb.

Meconium is greeny-black in colour, and has a sticky, tar-like texture that can be difficult to clean up, but its appearance is a good sign that your baby's bowels are working normally.


What will my baby's poos be like if I'm breastfeeding?


Your colostrum, or first milk, acts as a laxative, helping to push meconium out of your baby's system. Once your milk comes in, after about three days, your baby's poos will gradually change.

They will be:
  • At least the size of a £2 coin (DH 2009, NCT 2008).
  • Lighter in colour, changing from a greenish-brown to bright or mustard yellow. This yellow poo may smell slightly sweet (DH 2009).
  • Loose in texture. The poos may seem grainy at times, curdled at others.

Some breastfed babies only poo once every few days or even once a week. This is not a problem as long as your baby's poos are soft and pass easily(CKS 2010, DH 2009).

Will my baby's poos change if I switch from breast to bottle?


If you're switching from breast to bottle, try to do it slowly, ideally over a period of several weeks (Inch 2009).

This will give your baby's digestive system time to adapt and avoid constipation. It will also reduce the risk of painful, swollen breasts and mastitis for you.

What will my baby's poos be like when she starts solids?


Starting your baby on solids will have a dramatic effect on her poos. You'll find that her poos are affected by the foods she eats. If you feed her pureed carrot, the contents of her next nappy will be bright orange.

You may find fibre-rich foods, such as raisins or baked beans, pass straight through your baby and end up in her nappy. This will change when she gets older and is able to digest fibre more efficiently.

As she moves on to a wide variety of foods, and particularly when you introduce meat, your baby's poos will become thicker, darker and a lot more smelly.


What sort of poo is not normal?


Diarrhoea

Your baby may have diarrhoea if:
  • her poo is very runny
  • she is pooing more often, or passing larger amounts than normal
  • the poo is explosive or spurts out of her bottom
If you are breastfeeding your baby, she is less likely to suffer from diarrhoea. This is because your milk helps to prevent the growth of the bacteria that cause it (DH 2009).

If your baby has diarrhoea, the cause could be:
  • an infection, such as gastroenteritis
  • too much fruit or juice
  • a reaction to medication
  • a sensitivity or allergy to a food

If your baby is teething her poo may be looser than normal but it should not cause diarrhoea. If you baby has diarrhoea don't assume that her teething is the cause, it's more likely to be an infection.

Diarrhoea should clear up without treatment within 24 hours. If it doesn't, get it checked out as your baby is at risk of dehydration.

If your baby has had six episodes of diarrhoea in the past 24 hours, see your GP urgently (DH 2009).

Constipation

Many babies turn bright red and push hard when they do a poo. This is normal.
Constipation, on the other hand, is when:
  • Your baby seems to have real difficulty in moving her bowels.
  • Her poos are small and dry, like rabbit droppings. Alternatively, they may be large and hard.
  • Your baby seems irritable, straining and crying when she does a poo.
  • Her tummy feels tight to the touch.
  • Her poos have streaks of blood in them. This can be caused by tiny cracks in the skin, called anal fissures, caused by passing hard poos (CKS 2010).

Breastfed babies don't tend to suffer as much constipation as bottle-fed babies. Their milk contains all the right nutrients to keep their poos soft (DH 2009).

Constipation can be caused by:
  • fever
  • dehydration
  • changes in fluid intake
  • a change in diet
  • certain medications
(CKS 2010)
Always take your baby to your health visitor or GP as soon as possible if she's constipated, particularly if you notice blood in her poos. They will be able to check out all possible causes (DH 2010).

You'll probably be advised to increase your baby's fluid intake, as well as the amount of fibre in her diet if she is on solids. Giving her pureed prunes or apricots can be a good way to do this.

Green poo

Green poo can be a sign that your baby is taking in too much lactose (the natural sugar found in milk). This can happen if she feeds often, but doesn't get the rich milk at the end of the feed to fill her up. Make sure your baby finishes feeding from one breast before your offer her your other one.

If the symptoms last longer than 24 hours, visit your health visitor or GP.

Very pale poo

This can be a sign of jaundice. This is common in newborns and usually clears up within a couple of weeks of the birth. However, it can be a problem if it lasts longer than this.

Ask your midwife or doctor to check your baby over, even if she doesn't look jaundiced (DH 2009).

Streaks of blood

Your baby's poos may be flecked with blood if she's constipated. This is because straining can cause tiny splits in the skin around her anus (anal fissures). These bleed when she does a poo.

Always get any blood in your baby's poo checked out by your health visitor or GP (DH 2009).

 
 

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