The Ins and Outs of Newborn Poop

May 19, 2023
The Ins and Outs of Newborn Poop
You may find it difficult to believe, but the consistency, frequency, and even color of newborn poop is a hot topic for new parents and pediatricians. Our team explains what to watch for and why it matters.

Pediatricians are so concerned about your newborn’s stooling patterns that they’ve developed a precise description of what your baby’s first poop (meconium) should look like and when it should occur — within 24-48 hours of birth, thick, black, and tarry.

From that first bowel movement onward, your newborn can produce a rainbow of colored stools that are an early indicator of their digestive health and well-being.

Board-certified pediatrician Dr. Phani Bodavula, MD, FAAP, and his team are always happy to welcome newborns and their parents to Garland Pediatric Practice in Garland, Texas. 

As a physician and dad himself, Dr. Bodavula is also well-versed in the many responsibilities, questions, and concerns new parents have.

Check this information from Dr. Bodavula regarding your newborn’s pooping habits, namely color, frequency, and consistency, and what they might indicate about your baby’s health and development.

What’s meconium?

Your newborn’s pooping habits start with a thick, black, tarry substance called meconium. It contains cellular debris and other products found in the amniotic fluid your baby swallowed during gestation.

Ideally, babies produce meconium within 24-48 hours of birth but can sometimes release it before delivery. It indicates your newborn’s intestines are functioning.

Newborn stool color, consistency, and frequency

After passing meconium, typical newborn stool colors include:

Greenish yellow

This coloration occurs as your baby starts digesting breast milk or formula. The greenish hue comes from the small amounts of meconium remaining in the intestines mixing with the yellow of digested milk or formula.


Once the meconium has cleared from the intestines, breastfed babies generally produce light yellow or mustard-colored stools.

Yellow to tan

Formula-fed babies usually produce yellow, tan, or slightly greenish stools.

Newborn stools are generally soft, slightly runny, seedy, or pasty in breastfed and formula-fed babies. Most newborns pass 3-5 stools daily. The frequency slows significantly between six weeks and three months, sometimes once daily or less.

Once your baby begins to eat solids (baby food), stool colors and consistency can change according to their food.

Why is newborn poop so important?

There are many reasons to monitor your newborn pooping habits:

Detecting health issues

Changes in a newborn's poop can indicate health issues such as allergies, infections, or digestive problems. For example, if a baby has diarrhea, it can be a sign of an infection or intolerance to a particular food.

White, gray, bloody, or black stools could indicate liver or digestive disorders that require urgent medical care. Dr. Bodavula also recommends contacting Garland Pediatric Practice immediately if your baby has more than three watery stools since diarrhea can quickly lead to life-threatening dehydration.

Nutritional information

A newborn's poop can indicate whether they’re getting the correct amount of milk or formula. For instance, if a baby isn’t getting enough milk, their poop may be hard and dry, and they may have fewer bowel movements.

Monitoring development

The frequency, color, and texture of a newborn's poop can provide insights into the development of their digestive system. As a baby grows and develops, their poop changes accordingly.

Early intervention

Monitoring a newborn's poop helps Dr. Bodavula identify and address poor feeding habits and other concerning issues early, leading to better health outcomes in the long run.

For outstanding pediatric care from newborn through adolescence, schedule a visit with Dr. Bodavula at Garland Pediatric Practice today. Call the office or request an appointment online.