Good Sam Health System - November 30, 2017

Cue the obligatory warning. If you are squeamish around the talk of human bodily functions, this article may not be for you. If details of color or texture when it comes to diaper surprises doesn’t faze you, then it’s safe to say you are going to be a diaper-changing pro or already are one.

In life, there are very few things we can absolutely predict with certainty. Situations change. People change. The world changes. As a parent though, there is one thing that will always be true—there will be diaper changes (lots and lots of them).

And while it may not be everyone’s favorite part of raising a baby, it’s very important to talk about. Everything about a diaper change—color, texture, amount— is a good indicator of overall health. Whether you’ll soon be changing your first diaper at the hospital or are in the process of potty training, here’s a guide to help get you through those moments when you just aren’t so sure about things. 

The Mechanics of It All

When a baby is born, it can take three to five days before their system starts to work the way it’s supposed to. Their body needs to transition from life in the womb to food in the outside world, so don’t be surprised if diaper changes look different than expected at first. The nurses at the hospital will be able to coach you through this change before you head home and are off on your own.

As the saying goes, “what goes in must come out.” In baby/diaper world, this is especially true. Depending on whether a baby is breastfed or formula-fed will determine a lot about what you should expect to see.

How Many Diaper Changes Is Too Many?

Some days, it may seem like your baby is expelling more than he or she takes in. Since diaper brands vary in how much they absorb, it can sometimes be hard to tell if they are actually wet. When a baby is first born, they may urinate up to eight times a day. As they develop a stronger bladder, diaper wetting will happen less frequently.

Depending on the diet, babies can poop small amounts anywhere from two to four times a day. It’s fairly typical to expect a diaper change after every feeding. Since breastmilk is so well absorbed, there is less diaper waste than on other diets.

For babies, lack of poop in a diaper does not always indicate constipation, texture and fussy behavior do. Not going regularly can indicate that your baby is not getting proper nutrition, so it’s best to get everything checked out.

What Should My Baby’s Poop Look Like?

  • Babies that are breastfed have mustardy, pasty stools that can be somewhat loose.
  • Babies that are formula-fed can produce stools that are yellow, green, tan or brown.
  • Babies consuming both breastmilk and formula (containing 100% whey protein) usually have stools that are more green or dark green.
  • Colors that are not earth-tones, usually indicate that something is off.
  • White-colored stools, blood, and mucus are not always a cause for alarm but might indicate an allergy, intolerance or infection.

If you notice that things are looking a little grainy, this is a sign of undigested milk fat, which is normal. Once your baby’s diet changes to more solid foods, the color of the food they eat can come through their stool and that is totally normal.

Something else to look out for is the presence of mucus. When babies are teething, they tend to ingest a lot of extra saliva which goes undigested. If your baby is not teething, mucus can be a sign of an allergy.

Last, look out for the color of your baby’s urine, as well as a darker color can indicate dehydration.

We’re Here to Help

If you feel like something is off, it’s best to talk to your pediatrician as every baby has a different normal. With babies come lots of questions. Good Samaritan Hospital and Regional Medical Center of San Jose – hospitals of the Good Samaritan Health System, offer numerous classes to help you feel confident in every step of the parenting journey. Our instructors are health care professionals that have extensive experience and are committed to seeing you and your baby thrive. With convenient class offerings, we’re here for you every step of the way.