Baby Health

Vetted by J Rajesh, MBBS, MD (Ped.) on 28 Dec, 2021
Baby Health
Pee and Poop Habits: Keeping a Close Eye for Signals in Newborn

As you step into parenthood, it may seem like you are on an endless roller-coaster of diaper changes day and night as your baby’s poop habits change several times during the first few weeks. 

The frequency, consistency, and color of the poop are an indicator of your baby’s health. Here are answers to some common questions about your baby’s pee and poop patterns that may help you understand whether your baby is healthy.

What is the normal pee and poop pattern of babies?

The normal pee and poop pattern of babies can be understood based on the frequency and color of pee and poop and the consistency of poop.

  • Frequency of pee and poop: 
  • During the first few months, your baby may pee every one to three hours a day. At least four wet diapers a day usually mean there’s no cause for worry. In hot weather or if the baby is ill, the pee may drop to half the usual output.
  • You may notice several changes in the frequency of your baby’s stools over time. Breastfed babies may poop six to 12 times a day during the first few weeks and later up to six times a day. Formula-fed babies may initially poop up to eight times a day and by six to 12 months, only up to three times a day.
  • Colour of pee and poop: 
  • A healthy baby will have pale to dark yellow urine. If your child does not drink a lot of liquid, the urine will be concentrated and appear darker than usual.
  • While you observe your baby’s poop patterns, you will notice that during the first couple of days after birth, your baby’s stools are thick black or dark-green due to a substance in the baby’s intestine before birth, which is called meconium. Once this matter is passed, the poop color changes to a yellowish-green. When your baby starts eating foods other than milk, the foods will also have a dramatic effect on the color of your baby’s poop, which ranges from brown and tan to yellow or green. At times, you may even see undigested pieces of food.
  • If your baby is given iron supplements, the poop will appear dark brown.
  • Consistency of poop: 
  • A breastfed baby will have grainy, mustard yellow stools that may be soft or loose to runny inconsistency, while a formula-fed baby will usually have firmer, yellow, or tan stools. As you introduce solid food after six months, the poop will have a firmer consistency and a stronger odor than before.

What variation in the pee or poop should concern me? 

The color and consistency of poop and pee will change as your baby grows or due to other causes such as illness or changes to the mother’s or baby’s diet.

If your baby has soft poops, is nursing regularly, and gaining weight, there’s usually no cause for worry. The changes in the baby’s poop that you should watch out for are:

  • Frequency:
  • Fewer stools than usual or straining to pass stools.
  • Stools that are more frequent than usual and very watery.
  • Colour of pee and poop:
  • Change in the color of the pee may also change in case of an illness or if your baby drinks less liquids.
  • Consistency of poop:
  • Hard and dry stools.
  • Forceful or explosive watery stools.

Report these concerns to your doctor, so he/she can tell you what needs to be done.

When should I call a doctor?

Your baby will need to visit the doctor immediately if you observe the following changes in the baby’s pee or poop as they could indicate a serious illness:

  • Frequency of pee and poop:
  • Peeing along with abdominal pain, fever above 100.4°F, fussiness, repeated vomiting, or poor feeding.
  • A sudden increase in the number of poops may be watery.
  • Colour of pee and poop:
  • Bad-smelling and cloudy, bloody pee, or bloodstain on the diaper.
  • Maroon or bloody, black, grey, or white poop.
  • Consistency of poop:
  • Poop with a large amount of water, mucus, or blood.

Your baby’s pee and poop habits and their color and consistency say a lot about their health. If you notice diarrhea, watch for dehydration. If your baby has a fever, check urine output. Discuss with your pediatrician what is normal and what indicates a serious underlying cause. Keep your baby clean and change wet diapers regularly to avoid rashes and infections.

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