Breastfeeding Poop vs. Formula Poop. What's the Difference?

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In the first few years after having a baby, many parents begin to experience and notice the varying differences that take place within their baby’s diaper. The good news is many of these variations mean your baby is simply healthy and growing. That said, others may point to signs of an infection and indicate the necessity of a trip to the doctor's office. Differences in consistency and color have a lot to do with what is being consumed by your young one, such as whether they are being breastfed or formula-fed. Let's take a look at the different types of baby poop, including breast milk poop vs formula poop. 

Normal Bowel Movements for Breastfed Babies

Many parents have concerns about the different types of bowel movements and what they mean for their baby. Within the first few days after birth, a baby’s bowel movements will consist of meconium, which is the thick, black, or dark green substance that was held in their intestines before they were born.

When baby is two or three days old, the stool changes into a green color. The stool becomes less sticky and easier to wipe off. As your milk supply increases the bowel movements turn yellow and seedy. As long as the baby is getting only breast milk, the stool may have a sweeter smell. If formula is introduced or when foods are started, parents may notice the poop has a stronger odor and the appearance changes in color and consistency.

Abnormal Bowel Movements for Breastfed Babies

If your baby has a change in their typical bowel movement patterns, it is recommended to have a feeding assessment with a lactation consultant and discuss with your baby’s doctor. There are several reasons why baby’s stool may change such as food sensitivities or illness. Sometimes adjustments to the baby’s feeding patterns or parent’s diet can improve digestion.

Normal Bowel Movements for a Formula-Fed Baby

All newborns, regardless of feeding method, will first pass meconium, the thick, black, or dark green substance. Once that passes, the bowel movements of a formula-fed baby typically consist of yellow or brown stool. Formula-fed babies bowel movements normally are a bit firmer than those who are breastfed. Many parents find the consistency similar to peanut butter.

Abnormal Bowel Movements for a Formula Fed Baby

Along with knowing what to look for in normal bowel movements, understanding the abnormal stool signs is crucial as well. If you notice the consistency is harder than that of peanut butter, this could be a sign of constipation. If this is the case, contact your pediatrician. If you are worried about your baby's constipation and they are younger than 4 months old, avoid feeding them anything other than breast milk or formula without consulting with your pediatrician first. By doing so, you may be denying your baby of critical nutrients they need by feeding them water, juice, or electrolyte solution.

Keep in Mind

During the first month after being born, it is normal for babies to have many bowel movements each day. After the first few weeks of life, bowel movement frequency may decrease. This can be normal. Discuss any concerns you have with baby’s doctor. It is important to know that baby is still growing well as bowel movement frequency changes.

UnityPoint Health is Here to Help

At UnityPoint Health, we want to make sure you and your loved ones understand the full range of “normal” baby poop types that many parents will experience within the first few years. Many of these variations simply show your baby is healthy and growing. However, if and when a distressing change occurs, do not hesitate to contact your baby’s doctor as soon as symptoms become apparent.