Your newborn is crying – you have fed it, you have given it some love, and it is still crying. It must be a dirty diaper! You make your way to the changing table and get ready to take care of business. Then, you pop off the diaper, and there is the most amazing color bowel movement that you have every seen! There must be something wrong with your baby – it must be sick. You make your way to the phone to call the doctor… Hold on, don’t call anyone! There is nothing wrong with your wailing wee one. Welcome the wonderful world of baby bowel movements.
When your new little baby is born, its very first bowel movement is called meconium. It is very similar to a tar like substance. Most babies will have their first bowel movement 10-12 hours after they are born. Hopefully, your baby will pass its meconium after it has been born, but in some cases, the baby has the first bowel movement while in utero. This creates a bit more of a mess during delivery, and baby needs to be super-cleaned after birth along with clearing all airways.
If you choose to breastfeed, babies are said to have sweeter smelling bowel movements. I thought this sounded pretty silly, and then I had my baby. After the meconioum mess and she started having regular bowel movements, I realized that they really do smell sweet. It is normal for it to take a couple days before you see regular bowel movements right after baby is born. Breastfed babies usually have runny bowel movements ranging from orange to brown in color. It has a seedy texture to it, kind of like runny small curd cottage cheese. Some compare it to mustard. If you are formula feeding, your baby’s bowel movements might be similar to peanut butter and have a more distinct smell.
I was absolutely astounded by how many bowel movements my newborn was creating. It seemed that every time I fed her, she had a dirty diaper! I started loosing count of how many diapers I was changing! Did she have diarrhea? Was there something wrong? It is totally normal for breastfed babies to have lots of bowel movements. In fact, all babies have lots of bowel movements. They have tiny tummies that fill up, and there is nowhere for everything to go other than out. Expect to go through lots and lots of diapers. I thought it was funny how everyone kept giving me infant diapers, until I ran out.
After a couple weeks, I noticed that we weren’t going through so many diapers and her bowel movements were slowing down. Then, one afternoon, I was changing her diaper and there, in the diaper, was the most amazing green bowel movement. She must be sick! I was a little shocked and scared at the same time. I told myself to calm down. She wasn’t acting strange or upset, so there must be a different reason for this green mess. It turns out that baby bowel movements runs the gamut in color from yellow, to orange, to brown, to green! I breathed a sigh of relief and we went on with our day. Her next bowel movement was a completely different color – yellow actually.
A newborn isn’t able to tell us if it isn’t feeling well or if there is something wrong, so we have to rely on other clues to help us out. Checking your newborn’s bowel movements is a good place to look first. It turns out that there are only a few colors you don’t want to see when changing your newborns’ diaper. Those colors are:
Red – If it ever looks like there is blood in your child’s diaper, you should contact your pediatrician. Some girls might pass a small amount of blood soon after they are born, and many times blood in the diaper might be due to small cuts or strain around the anus, but it is still a good idea to call your pediatrician and let them know.
Black – Other than when your baby passes its meconium, you shouldn’t see black in your baby’s diaper. If you are seeing dark or black bowel movements, call your pediatrician right away.
White – This can be a sign of problems with some of your baby’s internals. This is another color that deserves a call to the pediatrician.
(Green) – Yes, I said before to not worry about green bowel movements, but if you are seeing a lot of green along with a fussy baby, you might want to call your pediatrician. If your baby is happy and showing no signs of distress, don’t worry about it.
No Bowel Movement – If your baby hasn’t had a bowel movement in a couple days, this is another time to give your pediatrician a call. Sometimes babies have long breaks between movements; so if baby seems happy, let it go another day or two.
Through my newborn diaper changing adventures, there are a couple things I have learned. I will leave you with these final thoughts:
– ALWAYS make sure that you have something under your baby when you are changing diapers. Please do not put your baby on something that you like to change its diaper. Babies pee and poo whether they have a diaper on or not. If you have a boy, remember they can make the pee go farther….
– Some babies will sit in a dirty diaper for hours without putting up any kind of fuss to let you know they need a new diaper. That’s great if you are busy or doing something that doesn’t lend itself to stopping and changing baby, but chiseling a bowel movement off of baby’s little butt takes many baby wipes.
– Plastic gloves might come in handy at times.
– Look at your baby’s bottom after each changing and search for ANY little red bumps. If you even see one, apply a small amount of your choice of diaper rash ointment. This helps to keep diaper rash away. Diaper rash isn’t just a rash – wailing accompanies it.
– Stay positive while changing baby! This is a great time to be eye-to-eye with your newborn and have a conversation and some positive interactions!
Baby’s bowel movements aren’t anything to be afraid of! Take your time while changing your newborns diaper and make sure to wash your hands afterwards. Just think, in no time, you will start getting ready for potty training!