10 Amazing Things You Didn't Know About Your Baby's Poop

Bryan Vartabedian, M.D. | May 25, 2017 Baby
10 Amazing Things You Didn't Know About Your Baby's Poop
Image: iStock.com/oksun70

baby holding feet

What does it mean when it's neon green? What's that weird thing in the diaper? Which things are totally normal, and not?

We asked Dr. Bryan Vartabedian, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston, to explain everything from the hue of your child's poo to the smell of things to come.

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Read on for fascinating poo facts!


Adapted from Looking Out for Number Two: A Slightly Irreverent Guide to Poo, Gas, and Other Things That Come Out of Your Baby by Bryan Vartabedian, MD Copyright © 2017. Excerpted with permission of Harper Wave.

baby poop 101

  • Your newborn has a 'poo print'

    mom and newborn baby

    Shortly after birth, a baby begins to develop a unique population of gut bacteria. This individual "poo print" is determined by a number of factors, including how they are born (c-section vs. vaginal birth), the way they are handled (lots of skin-to-skin or handling by gloved hospital personnel), and fed (bottle or breast). While you give your baby your genes when you conceive, she actually gets a second set of genes with the bugs she gets.  

  • Baby poo ripens like a banana

    baby with banana

    Poo gets its glorious brownish hue from the bile pumped into the gut just beyond the stomach. But bile starts out bright green and "ripens" as it makes its way down the digestive track. Sometimes you may see neon green poo. This just indicates that things are moving a little quicker than normal. Not to worry, as long as it's not associated with diarrhea.  

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  • Your baby’s farts might resemble your mate’s

    mom dad and newborn

    For better or worse, your baby's emissions might smell familiarly like yours or your partner's. That’s because the distinctive aroma comes from gut bacteria. And a lot of those bugs are inherited. 

  • Breast milk makes the best poo

    mom breastfeeding

    Beyond being power packed with the superbug bifido, the poo of a breastfed baby smells (relatively) great and it's easy to get off their bottom.

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  • For newborns, poop follows a meal like night follows day

    newborn baby

    Ever wonder why your baby poops right after she eats? As it turns out, when the stomach stretches, it makes the colon squeeze. It's called the gastrocolic reflex and it's quite pronounced in babies. In some people, this response remains intact in adulthood, which may explain why Uncle Joe makes a predictable disappearance after Thanksgiving dinner.  

  • Your baby’s poo smells sweet(er) to you

    mom and baby

    A recent "blind" sniff study showed that moms were less grossed out by their own baby's excrement versus another infant's. Scientist believe this preference may offer an evolutionary advantage by helping to foster nurturing.

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  • Expect the Big Slowdown a few months after birth

    baby in a diaper

    As your baby's enteric nervous system matures, his bowels will morph into a more mature pattern of elimination. Instead of pooping after every feed, he might go once a day or even every other day. This change is completely normal and not a sign of constipation. 

  • UVOs will become a fact of life.

    dad changing baby's diaper

    When introducing new foods, Unidentified Vegetable Objects are bound to show up in the diaper. Food travels through the gut much quicker in babies and young toddlers than it does in older children and adults -- so stuff often comes out looking unnervingly similar to how it went in. But babies and toddlers do a remarkable job of absorbing the nutrients they need.

  • Poo is mostly water

    baby in pool

    This becomes really important if and when a baby poops excessively (for instance, when she has a stomach virus). Loss of fluid through the gut can quickly lead to dehydration. Consult your pediatrician if you're seeing an unusually high output. 

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  • It may be disgusting, but poop in the bathtub is a positive thing.

    baby in bath

    If your baby's been having a hard time pooping, you might find that a warm, soapy bath makes it all happen. Muscle and bottom relaxation often facilitates what can't happen on its own. While it's a relief for you and your baby, it could be a sign to you that he needs some help with constipation.

  • Iron in formula will not constipate your baby

    baby bottle

    You might have become constipated during pregnancy because of your iron supplements -- but the iron your baby gets in his formula is his basic requirement, not extra. It won't cause constipation. 

  • Wait, there's more!

    Looking Out for Number Two
    Author photo by Christopher Kern

    For additional fascinating poo trivia suitable for cocktail parties and playgroups, read Looking Out for Number Two: A Slightly Irreverent Guide to Poo, Gas and Other Things That Come Out of Your Baby, published by HarperWave

    Bryan Vartabedian, MD, is a pediatric gastroenterologist at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston, Texas. 

poop & diapers baby first year

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