Medical News Today: Baby poop color: Causes and when to see a doctor

a color wheel infographic showing the colours of baby poop

Various factors can cause changes in the color of a baby’s stools. Common colors and their causes include:


In newborns younger than 1 week, black is a healthy color for stool. After this time, however, it could indicate a health problem.

During the first 24 hours of life, a newborn will pass meconium. This is thick, black stool. It is made up of cells, amniotic fluid, bile, and mucus ingested while in the womb. Meconium is sterile, so it usually does not smell.

Over the first few days of life, a newborn will continue to pass meconium. The color should gradually change from black to dark green, then yellow.

After 1 week of life, stool should no longer be black. If a black color persists, seek medical advice. It could mean that there is some bleeding in the digestive system.


This is a normal color of poop from a breastfed baby. Their poop tends to be dark yellow

and may have small flecks in it.

These flecks come from breastmilk and are harmless. Poop from breastfed babies is often described as “seedy.” The so-called seeds may resemble curds in cottage cheese but are yellow.

Brown or orange

This is a normal color of poop from a formula-fed baby.

When a baby drinks formula, their poop tends to light brown or orange. It may be slightly darker and firmer than stool from a breastfed baby.


Many babies occasionally have green poop. Some possible causes include:

  • slow digestion, usually because the baby has eaten more than usual
  • green foods in the diet of the breastfeeding mother
  • a cold or stomach bug
  • a food allergy or intolerance
  • antibiotics, either in the baby or the breastfeeding mother
  • treatment for jaundice

Some infants’ poop is naturally slightly green. If the baby is putting on weight and seems content, green poop is not necessarily a cause for concern.

Learn more about green poop in children here.


This is not a healthy poop color.

Poop is usually red because there is blood in it. Seek medical advice.

The baby may have a health problem, or they may have swallowed a small amount of blood. This could happen if a breastfeeding mother has cracked or bleeding nipples. Another cause of red poop is bleeding from the baby’s bottom.


This is not a healthy color for stool.

White poop is uncommon and could indicate a liver problem.

Jaundice, for example, is highly common in newborns, affecting as many as 80% of these babies in their first few days of life. It usually goes away within the first 2 weeks.

Anyone who suspects that their baby still has jaundice after 14 days should check the color of their poop. Pale or white poop may suggest liver disease. Another sign to look for is yellow pee.

If the baby has white or pale stool, the doctor may test their bilirubin levels. Bilirubin is a compound that helps the body get rid of waste. There are two types of bilirubin, and if levels of one type are too high, it can cause health problems.

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