Something you may not have known before becoming a parent or caregiver is that baby poop comes in many colors. Luckily, most of them are normal (or coincide with an obvious cause). Rarely, some poop colors indicate a serious issue and require immediate medical attention.
This cheat sheet can help you understand what you see in your baby’s diaper, but it is not a substitute for medical advice. Any time you worry about your little one’s poop, it’s important to check in with your pediatrician.
Poop Colors that are Normal or Have an Obvious Cause
Normal for breastfed babies before starting solid foods.
Normal for formula-fed babies before starting solid foods.
Normal for babies eating solid food.
Normal for breastfed and formula-fed babies, often resulting from certain pigments picked up in the digestive tract.
If your baby started solid foods, orange poop can be the result of eating orange foods (like carrots or sweet potatoes).
This can be caused by iron in formula, other forms of iron supplements, or babies eating dark green foods (like spinach).
Tiny, Infrequent Flecks of Red
For breastfed babies these can result from ingesting blood from cracked nipples.
For any baby, the strain of occasional constipation can cause tiny fissures in the anus that bleed a small amount.
Poop Colors that May Indicate an Issue
For all babies this could signal teething or a stomach bug.
For breastfed babies (especially if the poop is frothy) this could indicate that they’re getting too much of the thinner, sugarier “fore milk” at the beginning of the feeding and not enough of the thicker, high-fat “hind milk” at the end. To remedy this imbalance, try nursing from only one breast per feeding.
For formula-fed babies (especially if it coincides with fussiness, gas or other discomfort) this may be a red flag for a cow’s milk allergy.
Poop Colors that Require Immediate Medical Attention
White or Gray
This may indicate that a baby’s liver isn’t functioning properly.
Some foods can turn poop red, including beets, tomatoes, red peppers, cranberries, and foods containing red dye. Unless your little one recently ate one of these culprits, red poop may indicate blood from infection, allergy, digestive-tract injury, or another medical issue.
Black poop is only normal is in the first days after birth. Otherwise, it may indicate internal bleeding.
Sometimes poop texture or consistency may indicate an issue:
- Mucus or strings: This could be the result of teething or a cold. But, if it’s frequent or in large amounts it could point to a digestive-tract issue.
- Foamy: For breastfed babies this could be caused by a fore milk/hind milk imbalance (see above). For formula-fed babies foamy poop could be due to infection or allergy.
- Diarrhea: Babies can have loose stools, especially if they’re breastfed. But, if poop is very watery for three consecutive diapers, off and on for more than two days, or accompanied by a fever of 100.4 or higher, see your pediatrician.
- Pebble-shaped, hard, and/or dry: These are classic signs of constipation.
Now that you know all about the many colors of baby poop, head over to this article to learn about how your baby’s poop evolves from birth to potty training.