How to become a Newborn Stool Detective with Dr. Shruti Nathwani
Dr. Shruti Nathwani is a trainee Paediatrician working at Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital and first time mum to 20 month old Jason. She talks about newborn stool and how it’s helpful in deciding if our babies are healthy.
How to become a Newborn Stool Detective
Don’t be alarmed when you see your baby’s first stool. The appearance will be one that you won’t forget but be prepared for multiple changes. The guide below will help you figure out your baby’s stool and advice on when you might need to see a healthcare professional. The contents of a newborn nappy can provide you with an abundance of information if you know how to decode it!
What should your newborn stool look like?
Your baby’s first stool called meconium is sticky, greenish-black and can either be passed during labour or within the first 24 hours. The first stool might appear offensive but it does not have an offensive odour. If your baby has not passed meconium within 24 hours of being born please get emergency medical attention for your baby.
The stool then changes to a runny, odourless, yellow/mustard if breastfed and a more solid, smelly, lighter brown if formula fed. A formula fed baby’s stool consistency might appear to be paste like and a breastfed baby’s stool can appear seedy, with a scrambled egg type consistency. If you switch from breastmilk to formula milk, you will notice the stool become thicker in consistency and slightly darker.
Some formula milk, including iron-fortified milk, can cause stool to appear green. Iron is an essential nutrient and component in formula milk and as long as your baby seems happy and well it can be continued. Breastfed babies can also pass the odd green stool which should not be concerning if they are well overall. In summary baby stool can range from shades of yellow, brown or green.
How often should my newborn pass stool?
In the first few days of life your baby might pass one or more stool per day. This will increase to around 2 stool per day and will continue for the first few weeks of life. Breastfed babies pass stool more frequently than formula fed babies and can even pass stool after each feed.
After around 6 weeks of age a breastfed baby’s stool frequency can change to 1 stool every few days or even 1 stool a week. Some breastfed babies will continue to pass stool after each feed. There are variations in the number of stool each individual baby passes so how do you know if your baby is passing enough stool? In summary if your baby is feeding well, gaining weight and seems well overall, then you’re on the right track!
When should I be worried about my baby’s stool?
The following warrant a timely review of your newborn baby by a medical professional:
🔻Blood in stool
🔻Chalky white stool
🔻Green Black stool (after day 3 of life) and not on iron supplements
🔻Green mucous stained stool > 2 consecutive days
🔻Constipation (dry hard pellets) + pain
🔻No stool passed > 7-10 day or earlier if baby appears unwell
If you are worried about your newborn’s stool, don’t hesitate to take a picture and show it to your healthcare professional. A visual aid can be very helpful alongside a history and examination of your child.
Disclaimer: Please note this article is made available for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for competent medical advice. If your child is unwell, you must consult a medical professional in person.
Dr. Shruti Nathwani is the founder of @thechildrensmedic, an educational Instagram account focused on evidence based medical guidance surrounding newborn, infant and child health. She uses her own experiences as a mother and Paediatric Trainee to support parents throughout their parenting journey sharing practical tips and knowledge along the way.
See her talk on 'How to Spot When Your Baby is Unwell' at The Baby Show Live Talks Stage on Saturday 5th March at 2.45pm.