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The Many Colors of Baby Poop

The Many Colors of Poop The Many Colors of Poop

By: Laura Jana, MD, FAAP & Jennifer Shu, MD, FAAP

Long after adjusting to parenthood and your role as principal poop watcher and wiper, you may still find yourself fretting over changes in the color of your baby's poop.

In reality, once your baby has pooped enough to get rid of the tarry meconium, all the varying shades of yellow, brown, and even green that may follow are considered perfectly acceptable. Mustardy yellow is the color of choice for most breastfed babies. For those who are formula fed, it's yellow-tan with hints of green.

Being presented with a changing palette of colors in your baby's diaper is not uncommon—particularly later on when your baby is introduced to solid foods and snotty nose colds, both of which can add new shades and substance to the mix.

Black, white and shades of red

A few colors of baby poop, should you see them, always warrant discussion with your baby's doctor.


Seeing red can mean blood, especially in the newborn period when your baby isn't eating or drinking anything red colored that could be mistaken for blood when it comes out the other end.

Blood should not signal you to panic immediately, but you should bring it to the attention of your pediatrician. They can help sort out the cause of red stools. It is not uncommon for babies to swallow some blood during delivery that presents itself shortly thereafter—in either the baby's spit-up or poop.

Additionally, in the case of blood-streaked spit-up, remember to consider whether your own sore, cracked nipples might be the source. In any case, any amount of bloody poop should be evaluated because it can be a sign of a problem.


Black-colored poop is worth paying attention to because blood typically turns from red to black over time in the intestinal tract. Remember that this black color alert does not apply to your baby's first few meconium bowel movements, which you can fully expect to be black and tarry looking without having to be concerned about blood.


White poop is quite rare but needs to be brought to the attention of a doctor as soon as possible. Pale poop that's lacking in color can be caused by an underlying liver problem. The earlier it is assessed, the better, for peace of mind or for important medical management.

More information

About Dr. Jana

Laura A. Jana, MD, FAAPLaura A. Jana, MD, FAAP, is a pediatrician and mother of 3 with a faculty appointment at the Penn State University Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center. She is the author of more than 30 parenting and children's books and serves as an early childhood expert/contributor for organizations including the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Primrose Schools, and US News & World Report. She lives in Omaha, NE.

About Dr. Shu

JenniferShu, MD, FAAPJennifer Shu, MD, FAAP serves as the medical editor of and provides oversight and direction for the site in conjunction with the staff editor. Dr. Shu is a practicing pediatrician at Children's Medical Group in Atlanta, Georgia, and she is also a mom. She earned her medical degree at the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond and specialized in pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. Her experience includes working in private practice, as well as working in an academic medical center. She served as director of the normal newborn nursery at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire. Dr. Shu is also co-author of Food Fights and Heading Home with Your Newborn published by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Last Updated
Heading Home With Your Newborn, 4th Edition (Copyright 2020 American Academy of Pediatrics)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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