The number one reason pediatricians get calls from parents is a real stinker. Yep, it’s poop. Parents see a difference in their baby’s poop and get alarmed.

When should parents worry? And what is normal?

There are three things parents should look for when it comes to their child’s feces:

  1. Color
  2. Frequency
  3. Consistency

Color –

Baby poop can be colorful, but parents should worry when they see stools that are red, black or white. Red means the baby has blood in the lower gastrointestinal tract, or is leaking blood internally in large amounts. If excessive red, bloody diarrhea is present, the baby should be taken to the emergency room right away.

Black poop also has blood in it, but the blood entered the digestion process before the lower tract, so it has been in the baby’s body longer, and typically smells very badly. White poop means the baby is not digesting fat properly. If a parent sees any of these colors in a baby’s diaper, they should call the child’s pediatrician right away.

Frequency –

The number of times a baby poops in a day varies by age. Babies should poop at least once in the first 24 hours of life. Babies poop more frequently during their first month of life, typically once or twice after each feeding.

Around a month old, the baby will start having stools two or three times a day. Six to eight stools a day is considered diarrhea. If a baby is experiencing that number of stools in a day, he or she can quickly become dehydrated. At that point, parents should contact the child’s pediatrician.

Infrequent stools can also be a problem. If a baby has not pooped in three days, it is time to call the doctor.

Consistency –

The best way to describe a baby’s poop is in relation to various foods. Typically, baby stools are watery and can be described as greenish, yellow cottage cheese. If the poop appears more pudding-like, that can be normal, as well.

The bigger issue with consistency is constipation. Babies should not have hard or large formed stools, as these can hurt the baby when they come out. If a parent sees this, contact the pediatrician right away.

As always, parents should trust their instincts when it comes to their baby and their baby’s stools.