10 Facts About Baby’s First Bowel Movements

After spending a lifetime being taught that bowel movements are not an appropriate topic of conversation, many new parents find themselves amazed at the ease with which such distasteful subjects present themselves. Worry for your newborn’s health can cause a parent to analyze every aspect of baby care, including the contents of their diaper; here are ten facts about your baby’s first bowel movements.

  1. The Very First One Could Happen Before Birth – Baby’s first-ever bowel movement often occurs before or during birth; the substance that fills their intestines in utero is called meconium. Ranging in color from dark green to black, it will probably make up the first few of your babies bowel movements.
  2. Texture For Breastfed Babies – Babies who are breastfed will typically have a yellowish bowel movement with small, seedlike particles. It will be significantly more loose than those of a baby’s formula-fed peers.
  3. Texture For Formula-Fed Babies – If you opt to feed with formula, it will affect the texture of your child’s bowel movements. These will be thicker and stickier than those of a breastfed baby; generally somewhere in the consistency neighborhood of peanut butter.
  4. Hard Stools Are Cause For Concern – If your newborn’s stools are hard and dry in texture, it’s a red flag that she may be dehydrated. When these hard, dry stools are accompanied by a fever or fussiness, it’s a good idea to call your pediatrician.
  5. Detecting Diarrhea Can Be Tricky – Because your newborn’s diet consists solely of liquids, the texture of their bowel movement is likely to be watery and loose. This can make it difficult to detect diarrhea; if your child is having more frequent than normal bowel movements, seems fussy or has a fever, she could be suffering from diarrhea.
  6. You May Be Asked to Track Them – There may be times when your pediatrician will ask you to record your baby’s bowel movements and document any details. It’s important to record everything you can about diaper actions in this situation, as it can be a diagnostic tool for digestive problems.
  7. Expect Fewer Diapers From Breastfed Babies – By the age of three to six weeks, a breastfed baby may have as few as one bowel movement as week. Because breast milk generates very little solid waste, there’s simply no need for daily movements.
  8. Formula Can Constipate – Bottle-fed babies should typically have at least one bowel movement a day, due to the solid waste generated by baby formula. Fewer diaper actions, straining and hard stools are all indications of constipation, and should be addressed with your pediatrician.
  9. Frequency Varies – While there are basic guidelines for the expected frequency of bowel movements based on a breast milk versus formula diet, it’s important to remember that babies are all different. Some may have a bowel movement immediately after a feeding, some may take longer.
  10. They’re Magic – Baby’s bowel movements are among the most powerful magical tools in the world: the moment they’re detected, everyone in the room suddenly disappears, leaving the one holding the baby also holding the bag.
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