Green Baby Poop: What It Means and When To Worry
Deciphering your baby's bowel movements can be confusing for new parents. Learn more about what's normal and what could be cause for concern.
Even before your baby is able to speak, there are lots of different ways you can learn about their health and well-being. One way you can tell a lot about their digestion is by monitoring their diapers each time you change them.
It’s common for a baby’s bowel movements to be a source of worry for parents. But, with some extra knowledge about the range of typical types of bowel movements, you’ll be able to approach diaper changes with a little more confidence and peace of mind.
Normal Baby Poop Colors
In your baby’s first few days of life, their bowel movements will be very dark. According to Nancy Mohrbacher, a board-certified lactation consultant, it’s normal to see black stools in your baby’s diapers during this time. These stools are meconium, which is composed of material the baby ingested while in utero. Mohrbacher adds that by the time your baby is three days old, you’ll likely see their stools change from black to dark green.
According to Dr. Jay Hoecker of the Mayo Clinic, when your baby starts digesting breast milk, their stools will change to a yellow-green color. As you continue breastfeeding your baby, you’ll likely see loose, yellow bowel movements with a seedy consistency during diaper changes. Mohrbacher says that it’s the fat in breast milk that makes a breastfed newborn’s poop yellow.
Causes of Green Baby Poop
La Leche League International explains that if you are seeing green stools in your baby’s diaper after the first three or four days, there is not usually a cause for concern, so long as your little one is gaining weight. However, if it continues, you may want to consider some of the most common reasons for green poop— illness, iron supplements, or food intolerance.
In her article, “Green Poop: When Should You Worry,” Mohrbacher says that a baby with an upset stomach may have green stools that could last a few weeks. She recommends continuing to feed your baby regularly to help assist with recovery. It’s actually a great reason to continue feeding your little one with breast milk too, because the composition of your milk changes based on your baby’s needs. For example, if he or she is sick or slightly under the weather, your body will produce milk that is specifically tailored to their needs to assist in wellness and recovery.
If your baby continues to have a dark green stool after the first few days of feeding, you may question the cause. In a 2019 interview with Parents, Dr. Linda Folden Palmer states that if you or your baby are taking an iron supplement, it might be the cause of your baby’s green poo.
Babies can be sensitive to the foods in your diet, which can also lead to green poop. According to Healthline, that, while uncommon, a green stool with a mucus-like texture could be the result of an intolerance to something you’ve eaten.
What About Foremilk-Hindmilk Imbalance?
Foremilk is the thinner milk that babies eat at the start of feeding and hindmilk is the milk that comes toward the end of a nursing session. Many people believe that foremilk is higher in lactose and lower in fat than the creamier hindmilk.
The theory behind foremilk-hindmilk imbalance is that if your baby drinks mostly foremilk without enough of the fat-rich hindmilk, it may lead to green poop. Mohrbacher is careful to remind people that the results of the study where this term was first coined were never duplicated, so consider this potential cause with a grain of salt.
If your baby seems sensitive to foremilk-hindmilk imbalance, you can help them by ensuring they are getting enough of your fattier milk. Talking to a lactation consultant for further assistance can be helpful if this is a concern.
You've Got This!
Parenting presents many unique challenges, and there’s no shortage of opportunities to worry. But, in all likelihood, your baby’s green poo isn’t one of them. However, don’t hesitate to reach out to your pediatrician with any questions or concerns you may have – if for no other reason than your own peace of mind!