How Many Bowel Movements Should Newborns Make?

When a new baby arrives, parents want to know all about their child's behavior and health, including how many bowel movements he or she should make. Keep reading, and we'll explain all about your baby's digestive system.
How Many Bowel Movements Should Newborns Make?

Last update: 19 August, 2019

One of the most frequent questions parents ask pediatricians is how many bowel movements newborns should make. In addition, they ask what the stool should be like. These concerns are completely normal. In fact, babies’ first bowel movements are very different from what you might think.

For example, meconium has a particular consistency that can confuse parents when they see their baby’s first stool. If you’re worried about the amount, shape or color of your child’s stool, this article will help get rid of your doubts.

Characteristics of babies’ bowel movements

The first thing you should know is that babies’ bowel movements can be very different. They vary depending on how many days old they are. In addition, it depends on if they drink breast milk or formula.

Newborn babies’ first bowel movements are usually very dark black-green stools. Generally, they’re a sticky consistency. This is because they’re made from cells of their intestinal wall, bile, mucous and amniotic fluid.

Although it might seem like your baby is ill, the truth is that this stool is a sign that your baby’s intestines are functioning properly.

First noticeable changes in stool

On the third or fourth day after your baby is born, and after drinking milk, the dark color of the meconium will disappear. Then, your baby will have brown or yellow stools. This change is due to the laxative effects of milk on your baby’s body.

Your baby’s stool will be soft and have a mild smell if he drinks breast milkIf your baby drinks formula, it will smell more like adult feces. In addition, there will be more of it and it will be a pale yellow color.

How Many Bowel Movements Should Newborns Make?

On the other hand, keep in mind that the color and quantity of babies’ stool will change if their diet changes. For example, if they switch from breast milk to formula.

How to identify if stool isn’t normal

It’s important that, from the baby’s first bowel movements, you notice any changes in tone, smell or consistency. These are very important things to watch if your baby’s stool changes.

There are certain symptoms that can signal that something is wrong:

  • Presence of diarrheawhich will be excessively watery
  • Your baby expels feces with a lot of force, and he suffers from colic or gas
  • Evacuates more often than normal, based on what you see

In addition to these signs, you should keep in mind that children who drink formula are more likely to suffer stomach problems for two reasons. First, they’re more exposed to contamination by poor hygiene from the bottle. Second, they might have an allergic reaction to milk. In that case, call your doctor immediately.

However, more can be abnormal than just how the stool looks. Constipation, or the absence of bowel movements, can also be a problem. In these circumstances, you’ll see that your baby’s abdomen is hard or inflamed and he cries a lot. If he has any bowel movements, they’ll be small, hard bowels.

How many bowel movements should newborns make?

Once you identify the characteristics of healthy feces and abnormal ones, you need to know how many bowel movements newborns should make. On average, newborn babies will defecate at least three or four times a day. This goes hand in hand with the amount of times they eat.

How Many Bowel Movements Should Newborns Make?

For babies who drink breast milk, their bowel movements will be more frequent than babies who drink formula. Babies who drink formula might even only defecate once per day.

Finally, you should know that your baby’s biological rhythm is unique. Therefore, if your baby eats well, his bowel movements have the correct color, smell and consistency, and your pediatrician knows, you shouldn’t worry if his rhythm changes for a day. In addition, don’t worry if he doesn’t poop as much as his siblings or cousins.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.