While the saying, “everybody poops” may be a bit cliché at this point, it is still true. While it may seem like everything should be exactly, the same for a baby, newborn bowel movements have some unique aspects to them. It is not uncommon for parents to be surprised or unaware of the way their baby’s digestive tract works. However, having some basic understanding of what to expect can help you decide if your child’s stool is normal. Below you will find some basics about newborn bowel movements.

The First Time

Meconium is the term used to describe a child’s first bowel movement. Meconium is a thick, black, tar-like substance that fills a baby’s intestines before birth.  Most parents are unaware of Meconium, and as a result, many are caught off guard when they find it in their kid’s diaper. Some may even panic when they see it because it does not look like normal to most people. Meconium usually takes 2-3 days to pass through baby’s system so the first newborn bowel movements will look similar. Once the meconium is out of their systems, their stool will turn yellow-green.

Regularity of Newborn Bowel Movements

The frequency of newborn bowel movements is based in part on how they derive their nutrition. On the one hand, breast milk leaves very little waste in the system. Therefore, it is common over a three to six-week period for a breastfed baby to only have a bowel movement once a week. On the other hand, if your little one is formula fed, they should have at least one bowel movement a day. Some infants pass stool immediately after eating which is typically the result of the gastrocolic reflex. This reflex causes the digestive system to become active when the stomach is full of food. Vaccinations can cause changes to newborn bowel movements as outlined in this article by the CDC so be aware of changes when your baby receives their shots.

Dietary Considerations

Newborn bowel movements for a breastfed baby will resemble light mustard consistency with seed-like particles. Once your infant starts eating solid food, the consistency of the may range from very soft to loose and runny. For a formula fed baby, stool will resemble a tan, green, or yellow color because of iron that is added to the formula and it will be firmer than a breastfed baby’s bowel movement. However, stool should be no firmer than peanut butter.