How Often Should a Newborn Poop?

Changing dirty diapers becomes part of every parent’s daily routine. Whether your baby drinks breast milk or formula, these guidelines can clue you in to how often newborns usually poop.

newborn baby laying down during diaper change
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Babies go through at least 2,000 diapers during their first year alone, so you'll have plenty of time to get acquainted with their bowel movements. But during the precious newborn phase, it can be hard to know if your baby's stool schedule is healthy. You may be asking, "How often do newborns poop each day?"

As it turns out, the answer isn't one-size-fits-all. For starters, poop frequency depends on whether they're breastfed or bottle-fed. A baby's unique digestive system also comes into play. Always ask your pediatrician about questions regarding newborn poop, and refer to these general guidelines for pointers.

Your Baby's First Poop

Most babies have their first bowel movement within two days of life. Called meconium, these stools tend to be thick, sticky, and tar-like. They consist of skin cells your baby shed and swallowed while in the womb. Your baby's first several diapers will contain meconium until their digestive system clears all the remnants from birth. (Be prepared to go through a lot of wipes to get that sticky stuff off!)

After the meconium has passed, stool consistency will vary depending on whether your newborn is breastfed or formula-fed.

How Often Do Breastfed Newborns Poop?

The answer to this, again, is it depends. In general, you can expect breastfed babies to have a lot of dirty diapers in the first few weeks of life, with some relief as time passes. Breastfed babies will generally poop less than solely formula-fed babies as they get older, but your newborn's gastrocolic reflex, which signals for the colon to empty when the stomach stretches with food, isn't completely mature yet. As a result, their body might "make room for more" by passing bowel movements every time they consume milk. Many newborns poop following each nursing session, adding up to eight or 10 dirty diapers daily.

On the other hand, some breastfed newborns poop only once every few days (especially after the first 2 weeks of life). Both situations can be healthy. "For a breastfed baby, it can be normal to have only one bowel movement a week," explains Nanci Pittman, M.D., a pediatric gastroenterologist and assistant professor of pediatrics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. "It can also be normal to have as many as one bowel movement with each feeding."

Another fun fact? Breastfed baby stools look different than babies who have more formula and tend to be soft, seedy, and mustard-colored. They'll probably smell different too (some parents swear breastfed babies' poop is less offensive smelling, but then again, poop is poop!).

How Often Do Formula-Fed Newborns Poop?

Parents can expect around one to four bowel movements each day from babies who are fed formula primarily. Formula-fed newborns also pass fewer—but larger and different-smelling—stools. That's because bowel movements pass through the intestines more slowly when a baby consumes formula.

Some formula-fed infants poop much less less frequently; it all depends on your little one's digestive system. A formula-fed baby's poops look yellow to brown in color, and they're firmer than those of a breastfed baby. As always, bring up any concerns with your pediatrician.

Baby Poop After the Newborn Stage

No matter how your baby is fed, it's actually normal (and expected) for the frequency of pooping to slow around 6-8 weeks, says Ari Brown, M.D., a Parents advisor and co-author of Baby 411: Clear Answers & Smart Advice For Your Baby's First Year. Your baby's intestines are maturing and their digestion is becoming more efficient. As long as the poop feels soft when it comes out, it's fine if your baby poops just one or two times a week if they're maintaining a healthy weight.

When to Call the Doctor

Although constipation is rare in newborns, you should watch out for signs of a backed-up baby, which include:

  • Hard or dried out stool consistency
  • Refusal to eat
  • Making strained faces
  • Crying and appearing uncomfortable
  • A hard belly
  • Slight bleeding from stretched anal walls

Let your doctor know about any of these symptoms; they may check your baby for a milk-protein allergy. Also inform your doctor about progressively watery poop, bloody stools, or bowel movements that are white, gray, or black after they have passed meconium.

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