Most newborn babies will have a bowel movement in the first 24 hours of life. The first bowel movement, called meconium, is green-black and sticky. Meconium stool can last between 1-3 days.

Once babies begin to consume breast milk or formula the stool changes. Breast fed babies will have stool which is mustard color and seedy. Formula fed babies will have a more soft and pasty stool. Stool frequency can vary initially from once daily to after every feeding. At least one bowel movement per day in the first two weeks is considered typical.

Around the second to third week stool frequency will slow for most babies. Formula fed infants will stool about once per day . Breastfed babies can stool as infrequently as once every 5-7 days. Stool consistency will continue to be soft.

As your baby learns to pass stool she may strain, grunt, cry or turn red in the face. As long as the stool is soft, this is not due to constipation and no intervention is necessary. If instead the resulting stool is hard like a pellet, this could suggest constipation and you should contact your pediatrician. Never use laxatives, enemas, stool softeners, suppositories, Karo syrup, or even water without first contacting your pediatrician.



Diarrhea is defined as watery stools with little substance remaining on the surface of the diaper. It may also be accompanied by an increased number of stools per day. If diarrhea lasts more than one day, is associated with temperature, or if stool has blood or mucous in it, please contact your pediatrician.


 Diaper Rash

The best approach to the treatment of diaper rash is to:

  1. Remove the diaper and let your baby air dry as much as possible.
  2. Apply an over-the-counter diaper ointment as needed. This provides a barrier between the skin and urine/feces in the diaper.
  3. If the above suggestions do not seem to clear the rash, a prescription cream or ointment may be necessary. Please call the office to schedule an appointment.


Updated February 2016

Caring For Your Newborn
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