Your Guide to Your Newborn's Stinky Diapers and Other Excretions
Stock up on diapers and wipes, and start practicing your diaper-changing technique. You can expect a lot of messy diapers in the first few weeks of your baby's life. Both the contents and the number of poop-soiled diapers provide some information about your baby's health and nutrition.
How Much Poop Is Normal?
You're prepared to change a lot of dirty diapers once your baby arrives, but how many should you expect? The number changes during the first several days and weeks of life. Expect one or two poopy diapers each day during the first several days. Those first bowel movements, called meconium, are black and sticky.
Once your baby nears the 1-week-old mark, expect a significant increase in the number of bowel movements. You may see anywhere from five to 10 dirty diapers a day. Many babies poop after every feeding, which happens frequently in those early weeks when your baby's tummy is small.
The number of dirty diapers tends to taper off as baby gets closer to 1 month old. Babies eat more at each feeding, with more time between feedings as their digestive system starts to mature.
At around 6 weeks old, formula-fed babies typically have one bowel movement a day. Breastfed babies may have fewer bowel movements since not much solid waste is left after a breast milk feeding. All babies are different, but some breastfed babies only need to poop once per week. Others poop several times a week or once a day.
When Dirty Diapers Indicate a Problem
The average number of dirty diapers varies from one baby to the next. What is normal for one newborn could indicate a problem for another, so it's important to watch your baby's diapers to form a baseline of what to expect.
The consistency of your baby's bowel movement can help you determine if there's a problem. Formula-fed babies tend to have firmer stools than breastfed babies. No matter how you feed your baby, the consistency should generally be no thicker than peanut butter. Hard stools can mean your little one is constipated or isn't getting enough fluids. Straining to have a bowel movement is another sign of constipation. Consult with your child's pediatrician if you are concerned about constipation.
Other signs of a problem include:
- Less than one bowel movement per day for formula-fed babies
- Less than one bowel movement per week for breastfed babies
- Maroon or bloody stools
- Black stools after the first few days
- White or gray stools
- Sudden increase in the number of bowel movements
- Lots of mucus or water in the stools
- Explosive diarrhea
What About Wet Diapers?
When your baby isn't making poopy diapers, he's likely wetting his diapers. You may sometimes feel as if you're doing nothing but changing diapers, but that's a good thing, because it means his body is functioning normally.
Newborns often urinate every one to three hours, which adds up to a lot of wet diapers. Some babies, even though they only pee four to six times per day, are still within the normal range. Just like bowel movements, it's important to figure out what's normal for your baby, so you can spot a problem if the number of wet diapers suddenly decreases.
Urination tends to drop if your baby has a fever, is sick or spends time in hot weather. If the urine looks dark yellow, this means it is concentrated, which sometimes happens when your baby doesn't drink enough liquid. A pinkish spot in the diaper also can indicate very concentrated urine.
Contact your child's care provider for the following urine-related issues:
- Distress or pain during urination
- Fewer than four wet diapers per day
- Blood in the urine
- Sudden unexplained change in the number of wet diapers per day
Spit-Up Happens Frequently, Too
It comes out the other end, but spit-up is another common bodily fluid you can expect from your newborn. Spitting up three times a day or more is common for babies under 3 months old. It's even normal for babies to spit up 10 to 12 times a day. That's a lot of burp rags and potential stains, but you shouldn't be concerned if everything else seems normal. Most babies stop spitting up by 12 months, and the occurrences usually taper off as your little one gets older.
Spit-up becomes a problem if your baby isn't gaining weight or isn't eating well. Other potential signs of a problem with spit-up include:
- Forceful spit-up or vomiting
- Distress or signs of pain when spitting up
- Green or yellow color in the fluid
- Blood or pieces that look like coffee grounds in the spit-up
- Spit-up that doesn't start until after 6 months
- Signs of illness
Contact your pediatrician if you notice these symptoms or anything alarming about your newborn's spit-up.