By: Laura Jana, MD, FAAP & Jennifer Shu, MD, FAAP
Long after adjusting to parenthood and your role as principal poop watcher and wiper, you may still find yourself fretting over changes in the color of your baby's poop.
In reality, once your baby has pooped enough to get rid of the tarry meconium, all the varying shades of yellow, brown, and even green that may follow are considered perfectly acceptable. Mustardy yellow is the color of choice for most breastfed babies. For those who are formula fed, it's yellow-tan with hints of green.
Being presented with a changing palette of colors in your baby's diaper is not uncommon—particularly later on when your baby is introduced to solid foods and snotty nose colds, both of which can add new shades and substance to the mix.
Black, white, and shades of red
A few colors of baby poop, should you see them, always warrant discussion with your baby's doctor.
Seeing red can mean blood, especially in the newborn period when your baby isn't eating or drinking anything red colored that could be mistaken for blood when it comes out the other end.
Blood should not signal you to panic immediately, but you should bring it to the attention of your pediatrician, who will be able to help you sort out the cause. It is not uncommon for babies to swallow some blood during delivery that presents itself shortly thereafter—in either the baby's spit-up or poop.
Additionally, in the case of blood-streaked spit-up, remember to consider whether your own sore, cracked nipples might be the source. In any case, any amount of bloody poop should be evaluated because it can be a sign of a problem.
Black-colored poop is worth paying attention to because blood typically turns from red to black over time in the intestinal tract. Remember that this black color alert does not apply to your baby's first few meconium bowel movements, which you can fully expect to be black and tarry looking without having to be concerned about blood.
White poop is quite rare but needs to be brought to the attention of a doctor as soon as possible. Pale poop that's lacking in color can be caused by an underlying liver problem. The earlier it is assessed, the better, for peace of mind or for important medical management.