Noticing green poop in your baby’s diaper can leave you wondering about her health and well-being. Thankfully, greenish stool is natural for a newborn, and it’s not usually cause for concern. Read up on the various causes of green baby poop.
Your newborn baby’s first poop will be greenish-black and tarry in consistency, according to Linda Folden Palmer, D.C., author of Baby Poop: What Your Pediatrician May Not Tell You. Called meconium, it consists of everything Baby ingested in the womb, including amniotic fluid, bile, and skin cells. Over the next few days, the stool begins to take on an army green color, then it turns mustard yellow (if breastfeeding) or tan-brown (if using formula).
Dr. Palmer notes that stool can take on a variety of appearances, though, and an occasional green poop is completely normal. If your baby is eating enough – and if the green stool doesn’t appear at every diaper change – you probably don’t need to visit the pediatrician.
Bile gives poop its signature brown color. When stool is rushed through the digestive tract too quickly, the bile doesn’t get digested, leading to a greenish hue, says Dr. Palmer. Here are some possible causes of green baby poop.
Breast milk changes throughout a nursing session. Your breasts first produce low-fat and high-sugar “foremilk,” which transforms into high-fat, high-calorie “hindmilk” as breastfeeding progresses. If your baby tends to have short nursing sessions, she may be getting more foremilk than hindmilk. This might also happen is Mom switches breasts too quickly. Too much foremilk may lead to gassiness and green, frothy stools.
If the green stool looks like diarrhea or contains mucus, something is probably irritating your little one. “Sometimes babies get a stress reaction, or it could be a stomach bug,” says Dr. Palmer. If you’re breastfeeding, maintain your regular feeding schedule; breast milk provides antibodies that promote recovery.
According to Dr. Palmer, a leading cause of green stool is a food intolerance – either to something in mother’s diet or the baby’s formula. “The number one ingredient that babies react to is cows milk,” she says, although many other foods, beverages, or medications could cause a reaction. If your baby is experiencing a food intolerance, she may also develop eczema and act irritable after feeding.
Breastfeeding babies may have green poop if the mother eats leafy greens or green food coloring. Once your child starts eating solids, green baby foods (like pureed peas or spinach) can also tint her stool.
“Dark green baby poop after first few days is probably from an iron supplement,” either taken by the mother or the baby, says Dr. Palmer.
If a nursing baby isn’t getting enough milk, her stool can turn green. She also won’t dirty her diaper regularly (newborns should poop at least 3-4 times each day), won’t gain weight, and may act fussy or sleepy. Call your Ob-Gyn or lactation consultant right away if you’re worried Baby isn’t eating properly.
According to Dr. Palmer, newborns being treated for jaundice with phototherapy can have green poop. Teething could also promote a greenish hue in stool, since teething babies swallow lots of saliva. Finally, “some parents report green poop after vaccinations,” adds Dr. Palmer.