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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.

Breastfeeding poop vs. formula poop. What's the difference

Normal Bowel Movements for Breastfed Babies

Many parents typically stress about the different types of bowel movements and what they mean for their baby. Within the first few days of having your baby, their bowel movements will consist of passing meconium, which is the thick, black, or dark green substance that was held in their intestines before they were born. Once that passes, the quicker you begin to breastfeed, and the sooner colostrum enters their system.

Once you pass the colostrum stage, your milk will change, and their stool transitions into a brown color. The stool becomes less adhesive and easier to wipe off. As your milk becomes more abundant, the bowel movements transform from yellow-green to yellow along with a sweeter smell that you don’t find with formula-fed babies. Once this happens, and it becomes a seedy texture, it should remain this way until you end your breastfeeding.

A Quick Tip

As your baby has their bowel movements, keep an eye out for any stool that has the consistency of curdled milk or is loose in consistency. This will showcase good regularity. With that, you should notice that the odor won’t be harsh or repugnant in smell. These all are good signs.

Abnormal Bowel Movements for Breastfed Babies

As you continue to breastfeed your baby, you may notice their stool become watery and green in color. This could indicate that your baby is not ingesting enough hindmilk. Another option to an inconsistent amount of hindmilk could showcase a reaction to a particular prescription you may be taking or food you are consuming. This reaction may be due to dairy products such as milk, yogurt, or cheese. Discuss the situation with your pediatrician. The pediatrician may have you eliminate dairy products from your diet to test their impact.

Normal Bowel Movements for a Formula-Fed Baby

As stated previously, after initially having your baby, your newborn 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

The first 1 to 2 months after being born, numerous babies go from a number of bowel movements a day to a few days between each movement. This is also very normal. Parents should not be concerned with how often they have bowel movements, but how firm the stool is when passed.

UnityPoint Health - Methodist is Here to Help

At UnityPoint Health - Methodist, 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.

For more information, please contact our UnityPoint Health - Methodist Birthing Center or reach out to your UnityPoint Health Pediatrician.