By Raising Children Network
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Newborn having nappy changed
Understanding and examining your baby’s poo and wee isn’t disgusting. It’s actually one of the best ways you can check your baby’s health.

Poo and wee: the basics

Young babies can wee and poo many times every day.

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 his stomach and bowel after being in the womb for nine months. You might see some dark green poos for a few days.

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.

Your baby has no control over when he poos or wees, so don’t take it personally if he wees on you during a nappy change.

Looking at wee

Every time your baby wees, examine 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. Darker wee, on the other hand, is a sign that your child 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 you think your baby isn’t well, see your GP immediately.

If your baby wears absorbent disposable nappies and you want to check how much she’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.

Looking at poo

There’s a big range of normal when it comes to what 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.

The poo:

  • 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.

The poo:

  • 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.

The 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.

Poo problems

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 without enough 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 he’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. Formula-fed babies are more likely than breastfed babies to need this kind of treatment.

Diarrhoea is when your baby does more runny (even watery) poos, more often than usual. If your baby is vomiting as well, she 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.

Pale poo
If a baby with jaundice also has white, grey or pale yellow poo, the baby might have a rare liver disease. The baby will need a blood test to check, so seeing the GP as soon as possible is very important. Take photos or even samples of your baby’s poo with you so the GP can check it out.

  • Last updated or reviewed 09-11-2015