What do all these baby poo colours mean?


One of the more unexpected things about having a baby is just how much poo becomes an everyday part of your life. From how often your baby poops to what colour it is, you'll find yourself able to chat endlessly about baby poop.

Why is this? In short, your baby's doo-doo can provide insight into their health.

You will certainly find yourself wondering whether or not the off-colour surprise in your baby’s nappy means that you’ll need to visit the doctor.

And with such a range of colours, textures, smells and frequencies, it’s easy to worry about what it all means.

Check out our poopy pie chart for some clues about your baby’s nappy, and help put your mind at ease:

The Baby Poop Pie Chart

Baby poop colour pie chart

  • Greenish-black: Meconium poop happens for (usually) 2-3 days after birth. It is tar-like and sticky, and is made up of various things ingested in utero, such as mucus, skin cells and amniotic fluid. Do call your physician or clinic if it has not appeared 24 hours after birth. After a 3-4 of days it will become an olive/khaki colour, indicating that breast milk or formula is being properly digested.
  • Yellow/slightly green: Babies which are exclusively breastfed will have a yellowish green poop, often described as mustard colour; it may have small seed-like pieces in it. It may also be very runny. It could become greener depending on your own diet.
  • Bright green: Bright green, algae coloured/textured poop may mean that a smaller baby is getting too much foremilk, the milk which comes at the beginning of a feed, meaning that baby may need to spend more time on each breast to get to the more nutritious milk.
  • Peanut butter: Formula fed babies usually produce ‘peanut butter’ coloured poop. It is usually tan-brown, yellow-brown or green-brown, and is a bit smellier than breast milk poop.
  • Dark green: If you’re taking an iron supplement, this occasionally makes baby poop turn dark green. It could also be related to ingestion of very green food. If you aren’t taking a supplement and you don’t think the green is food-related, do call your doc.
  • Red: Red is most often caused by foods such as beets, tomatoes or cherries or purple/red cold drinks.
  • Brown-brown: When your baby is weaned off the breast/formula onto solids, the poop will be browner and smellier still. It will be thicker, but not solid yet.
  • Rainbow-brown: If your baby’s poop has undigested food in it it could mean that the food is just going through the digestive system quickly, or that parts of the food aren’t digestible. You could see orange carrots, red beetroot and blue for blueberries. It may also be that baby isn’t chewing the food sufficiently. If this continues for a long period, then you can call your doc.
  • Bad yellow-green-brown: Diarrhoea is the one thing parents dread! It may be explosive (beating the nappy) and usually appears to be more water than solids. Call your doc if, in your sub-3-month baby, it lasts for more than 2-3 nappies or has blood or mucus in it, or lasts for more than 24 hours. If left, diarrhoea may lead to dehydration.
  • Streaks of red: If the poop is pebbly and dry in appearance and streaked with red, this could mean that baby is constipated, and that the hard dry stools are causing tiny tears on the skin of the anus. Worth a call to the doc, though (blood is quite worrisome!), and do introduce lots of water, fruits such as prunes/apricots, grains and high fibre veggies.
  • Chalky-grey or light yellow:  Pale poops are often present in babies who drink a lot of cow’s milk or babies given antacid medication. If your baby’s poop is like this and it’s not for those two reasons, call the doc, especially if it’s very stinky or fatty.

The poopy diaries

You’re the best person to keep track of your baby’s poop-hues and textures, but you can also ask your child’s caregiver to make notes in a poop diary, if you aren’t always available at changing times. If you are concerned that your baby’s poop is too runny/smelly/infrequent or frequent, or if you see blood or mucus, it’s always safest to call your doc for advice.

You can also check out this gallery.

Not all baby poo is created equally, and sometimes you'll be amazed, bemused or even shocked at what you'll find in a nappy. Here are some of the more common shapes and sizes you can expect to see:

Types of diaper loads

Have you ever worried about the colour of your baby’s poop?

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Read more:

'I'll be joining the cloth revolution…I can't wait': Readers respond to a question about banning disposable nappies in SA

What SA parents could expect if we banned disposable nappies

Diane Kruger uses eco nappies for environmental reasons, and 31% of South Africa's cloth parents do too

Resources: Babycenter.com and Essentialparent.com

Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.

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