Your infant: a Picasso of Poo.
A Gucci of gastrointestinal wonders.
Brown is so last year as a baby poop color, and your infant knows it.
She’s a fashionista.
She makes STATEMENTS.
The test, as the parent of such an artsy-fartsy baby is to be able to identify which of those statements are “personal expressions” and which baby poop colors are the flashing red lights of danger.
The magic ingredient that colors poop (because I’m know you soooo want to know) is bile.
Using our parental powers of deduction, my dear Watson, we can then conclude that the absence of color in your baby’s waste is a signal your baby is not producing enough bile.
A bile shortage is caused by liver or gallbladder problems and can be serious. Call your doctor right away.
This “pretty” shade of poo is directly related to something your baby has eaten recently.
Usually the culprit is beets, but it could also be tied to cranberries, tomatoes, Froot Loops, red Jell-O, or cherry popsicles.
Pink is pretty harmless, but I would still compare it with the other reddish shades. Art is fickle. Just because you see pink doesn’t mean your doctor wouldn’t see red.
If you see a raspberry baby poop color that looks like mucus (think congealed fat), you need to call your doctor immediately.
That could be a sign of a serious intestinal problem.
There are several reasons why you might see a bright red baby poop color.
- If the poop is normal (not in hard pellets), but has specks of red everywhere, this is usually caused by a milk allergy. If you’re breastfeeding, cut out diary. If you’re giving formula, try switching to soy.
- If the poop is in hard pellets, your baby is constipated and the blood (streaked or spotted throughout) is probably due to small tears in the anus. Adding a little prune juice (teaspoons for newborns, tablespoons for older babies) to her next bottle to soften things up.
- If the poop is watery (diarrhea-like) and is streaked with red, this may be signs of a bacterial infection. Consult your doctor.
Mustard yellow is the most common breastfed baby poop color. Why is it common? Because it’s completely normal.
Occasionally you may also see little white “seeds” sprinkled around. These are partially digested milk solids and are also completely normal.
Supposedly this breastfed yellow poop smells sweeter than the poops of formula-fed babies.
Heaven knows I’m not going to stick my nose in there to confirm, so I’ll just pass it along as an extra (unconfirmed) breastfeeding bonus.
Breastfed babies also tend to have looser stools than their formula-fed siblings. It is very rare for a breastfed baby to be constipated. (Remember, frequency isn’t the sign of constipation – texture is. )
If “mustard” is normal for breastfed babies, “hummus” is the Ned Normal for formula-fed infants.
It also can sometimes have flecked little white seeds sprinkled around.
If the consistency is like hummus, baby is fine. If it’s thicker, like peanut butter, you may have a constipation issue to resolve.
90% of all diaper changes will display the dirt-brown boring baby poop color.
Although it’s the most boring of baby poop colors, it’s also a good sign that all his little microbes are functioning properly. Especially after you’ve introduced baby food.
Lime green is one of the most startling of baby poop colors. Most of the time it’s accompanied by a frothy, bubbly texture. (Think of a rancid cappuccino.)
This is a sign of a foremilk/hindmilk imbalance.
Foremilk is “first milk” that comes from the breast. It’s fairly sweet and thin, like skim milk.
Hindmilk is the milk that “comes from behind” (that’s how I remember, anyway). It is richer and fattier and contains most of the power-nutrients your baby needs.
Lime green poo is a sign that your baby is snacking too much on the sweet foremilk. Try keeping her on one breast longer, so she pulls out the thicker, richer hindmilk.
Weight checks are another good way to test this. Babies who are getting their hindmilk will gain weight easier.
If you’re not breastfeeding, or are and your infant isn’t snacking, talk to your pediatrician. Lime green poo can also be a sign of a virus. (He may ask to see the green baby poop color for testing, so ask before tossing.)
Green is a common shade for milk protein allergies, FYI. Definitely something to ask the Doc about!
An evergreen baby poop color is the result of extra iron floating through your baby’s system. It’s usually also accompanied by thick constipated stools.
Don’t stop supplementing with iron (if your doctor has told you to) or try to switch to an iron-free formula. Iron is a “must have” nutrient your baby needs for proper brain growth and development.
If your infant is straining and showing signs of constipation, add a little prune juice to the bottle or speak to your doctor about using an over-the-counter stool softener.
This can also be a sign of a milk protein allergy. Click here to see what to watch for.
There are several reasons why your baby’s poo could be black.
Black, tar-like poop (called meconium) is what your newborn’s very first poop looks like, sometimes days after birth. It is normal.
If you’re breastfeeding and your nipples are cracked and bleeding, the black flecks sprinkled around your baby’s poop is the result of her swallowing and digesting your blood. Yes, that’s nasty. Heal those nips, friend!
It could be the result of too much iron. (See my instructions for Evergreen…sometimes it’s a green so dark it looks black.)
If it is a solid black color, you may be looking at a serious problem. Your baby’s digestive system could be bleeding somewhere. Call your doctor right away.
Fickle Fecal Matter
You know, I used to be all squeamish about these things. But three kids later, the word “poop” has lost it’s ewwww effect.
After changing hundreds of those little “surprises”, I’ve learned just how fickle those little baby’s bowels can be.
What’s brown today can be easily green tomorrow.
That said, no matter which baby poop color your artistic infant decides to produce, you should ALWAYS call your pediatrician if…
- you see bloody mucus in the poop
- your infant is running a fever
- your baby is vomiting
- he is refusing to eat
- his urine is darker-in color or infrequent (dehydration is the #1 hospitalizer of babies)
- he seems limp and not responsive – in fact, if this is him, call 911.
Just remember my little mantra:
When in doubt, give Doc a shout!
Your baby’s poo, although not the nicest thing to look out, is your best window into the innermost workings of his little body.
It is the first sign that things are going well…or not so well, so watch it closely.
Have you ever been surprised by opening up your baby’s “gift”?
What baby poop color shocked you the most?
Meet Heather Taylor
Heather is the Chief Encouragement Officer here at Incredible Infant and has been writing and encouraging parents online since 2007. She's certified in baby sleep coaching (yes, that's a real thing), has served as an Expert Parenting Panelist for numerous events, and has been a featured writer on blogs like DaveRamsey.com, SimpleKids.net, My Kid's Adventures, Cafe Mom, and others. If it's 2am and you're desperate to read SOMETHING, click here for all her darkest secrets, including why she really shouldn't be allowed to blog.