Understanding and examining your baby’s poo and wee isn’t disgusting. It’s actually one of the best ways to easily and regularly check on your baby’s health.
Wee: what you need to know
Young babies can wee many times a day. Having lots of wet nappies is a good sign – it shows that your child is getting all the fluids she needs and is well hydrated. The wetting will happen less as your baby gets older, but it might still happen at least 6-8 times a day.
Every time your baby wees, look at the stream or colour of the wee stain on the nappy. This will tell you a lot about your baby’s health.
Light pink or orange stains are nothing to worry about. They’re caused by the wee reacting with chemicals in the nappy, and are quite common. Infrequent or darker wee, on the other hand, is a sign that your baby might be dehydrated or not feeding enough.
If the wee stains are red or brown, and you think there might be blood in the wee or your baby doesn’t seem well, see your GP immediately.
If your baby wears absorbent disposable nappies and you want to check how much he’s weeing, the weight of the nappy is a better test than how wet it feels. Also, sometimes there can be small ‘crystals’ on the inner surface of a disposable nappy. These come from the inside of the nappy, not from your baby.
Poo: what you need to know
Your newborn’s first poo will be a dark green, tar-like substance called meconium. This is normal – it’s your baby’s body emptying her stomach and bowel after being in the womb for nine months. You might see some dark green poos for a few days.
After this, there’s a big range of normal when it comes to what baby poo looks and smells like and how often babies poo.
Some babies might seem to poo all the time, and others might not poo as often. Pooing anywhere between three times a day and three times a week is normal.
Pooing is common during or shortly after feeding. This is called the gastro-colic reflex.
As the weeks pass, you can expect changes in:
- frequency – that is, how often your baby does a poo
- colour of the poo
- consistency of the poo – firm, runny and everything in between
- smell of the poo – it generally gets more smelly when baby starts eating solids.
The way your baby’s poo looks might depend on your baby’s diet.
- will be quite soft and maybe even runny, a bit like mustard, often a yellow-orange colour, but sometimes green
- will be less frequent but still quite soft after a few months
- can smell quite sweet, and the smell can be affected by what you eat.
- is generally firmer but can vary a lot in colour and softness or hardness
- can be grey-yellow (or even grey-blue), or some shades of brown.
Change from one formula to another
This can lead to changes in appearance and softness or hardness of poo.
- becomes firmer and smellier once you introduce solids
- can look as if some solids are undigested. This is because your baby’s digestive system is still developing. It’s usually normal.
Constipation is when the poo is hard and dry, and looks like little marbles or pebbles. This kind of poo is difficult for your baby to push out, which can be upsetting for him. If this continues or you see any blood in the poo, speak with your GP or child and family health nurse.
Constipation is more likely to happen in bottle-fed babies. It usually happens when the formula has been made with too little water, but it can happen for other reasons too.
If your baby seems to be putting a lot of effort into pooing, it doesn’t necessarily mean she’s constipated. Young babies often go red-faced, grunt or even cry during pooing, but they usually grow out of this when they get more used to the experience. If your baby isn’t pooing very often but the poo is soft and easy to push out, it’s probably nothing to worry about.
But if your baby is straining and producing hard, dry pebbles, it’s a good idea to see your GP, who can prescribe some short-term poo softeners.
Diarrhoea is when your baby does very runny or even watery poos, more often than usual. If your baby is vomiting as well, he might have a gut infection. In this situation, it’s important to see your GP immediately to make sure that your baby doesn’t get dehydrated.
If a baby with jaundice also has pale yellow, white or grey poo, see your GP immediately – this can be a sign of a rare liver disease. The baby will need a blood test to check. Take photos or even samples of your baby’s poo with you so the GP can check it out.