Black, tarry poop
Black poop in baby’s first days is completely normal. These first poops are called meconium and are made up of all the stuff baby’s been consuming in utero. It should only last two or three days, so if you notice meconium after that, call baby’s pediatrician, says Douglas Mogul, MD, MPH, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Johns Hopkins Hospital, who also has an app called PoopMD, which uses color recognition software to analyze baby’s stool color for you.
Breastfeeding? A mustard-yellow color is pretty typical for a nursing baby’s poop, but it might have a greener hue and that’s fine too, Mogul says. Breast milk is super-easy for babies to digest and the nutrients are well absorbed, so what comes out is mushy and creamy in texture. It might even be kind of sweet smelling.
If baby’s consuming something other than breast milk — namely formula and/or solid foods — his poop could be a wide range of colors, including brown, yellow or green. And it won’t be as loose or runny as breast milk poop. In fact, you might see chunks of food that weren’t completely digested in the diaper. That’s totally fine. “The take-home message is anything is fine except red, black or white,” Mogul says.
If you catch a small spot of blood in baby’s diaper, it’s probably not a big deal. Some babies can’t handle standard cow’s milk formula and experience irritation at the rectum as they digest it. A switch to an alternate formula might be in order, so call the pediatrician for advice.
If baby’s poop is really red, it’s blood, so definitely call the doctor. There are several causes, including infection, allergies, blood vessel malformations and polyps (warty growths) that have fallen off. Baby might also be sick and need treatment, Mogul says.
Whitish or light gray poop
White, pale yellow or chalky-gray poop is always a cause for concern. It’s a sign of biliary atresia, a rare blockage of the liver that can be fatal if it’s not treated early, so it’s important to contact the doctor right away. She will probably refer you to a gastroenterologist, and baby may need surgery.
Black poop after day three
Remember: Black poop is only okay in the first few days of life. After that, it could be the result of certain medications, or a reaction to foods or iron in her diet. In other cases, it could be blood, so it’s also worth a call to the doctor, Mogul says.
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