A Guide to Baby Poop, Pee and Spit Up
Everything you wanted to know about baby’s bodily fluids (and then some)
Poop parameters. You’ve no doubt heard that breastfed babies poop messy, runny, French’s-mustard-colored stools at every feeding, but again, this becomes true only after about the first week. Immediately postpartum, babies produce a thick, black tar-like poop called meconium (this may happen in the hospital, so you may not see it). Then as breast milk and/or formula begin to make their way through the system, the stools become brown and pasty. Formula-fed babies will continue to poop this way (though it becomes more formed, and the color may vary), while breastfed babies will go on to the thinner, yellow, seedy variety of legend.
The next fun feature about baby poop you’ll find yourself obsessing over is how often to expect it. Again, many breastfed babies have a bowel movement during or after almost every feeding. However, this truism does not apply to all. Formula-fed babies are definitely less frequent poopers, and may even go as little as every few days. This behavior usually sends grandparents into a total panic, and by default new parents as well. Because babies are also notoriously loud poopers—straining, grunting, and getting very red-faced—all of this can add up to major anxiety about the big C: constipation. Try to tune Grandma out on this one: Babies are seldom constipated. Like adults, infants are unique in their bowel habits, and your pediatrician is likely to dismiss your concerns. As long as the poop is soft when it eventually arrives, your baby will be diagnosed as quite normal.
Another related myth along these same lines pertains to the iron content in formula. As you yourself may have experienced very recently, iron supplements can be, well, binding in adults. Not so with babies, and don’t be tempted by low-iron formulas (which most medical experts think should be pulled from the market). Full-iron formulas are essential for your baby’s brain development and will not constipate him. Nor will the iron supplements your pediatrician prescribes for your baby if he’s being breastfed. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.