If you have ever taken an infant or toddler for a check-up or treatment, chances are at some point the doctor or health attendant may have asked you if your baby’s stool is normal. Generally speaking, newborns who are breastfeeding will not pass stool every day, at least for the first three to six weeks. Formula-fed babies, however, may pass stool once a day and little to no bowel movement (spanning days) may be a sign of constipation.

While looking at baby’s stool may look like a stretch, a glance from time to time may reveal secrets to the goings-on in your baby’s body that may be life changing. Here is a checklist of what is normal and what you should worry about and why.

Black

Normal: This is baby’s first stool referred to as meconium. It has tar-like consistency as it contains mucus, skin cells, and amniotic fluid. This kind of stool should last only a few days after birth.

Alert: If it persists, consult your paediatrician. It could be an indicator that your baby isn’t getting enough milk.

Yellow

Normal: Once the meconium passes, then your baby’s stool turns a mustard yellow colour and may have seed-like substances. This is normal especially for breastfed babies.

Alert: Bright-yellow stool whose frequency is intense and extremely runny may be a sign of diarrhoea, which can easily lead to dehydration. Consult your doctor.

Red

Normal: Your baby’s stool may turn red if they eat red food.

Alert: Red stool, however, could also indicate blood. This may manifest as red or black spots in the stool. This is not a good thing as it could signify quite a number of things such as an infection, milk allergy, or an anal fissure.

Green

Normal: This is normal colour for children who are formula-fed or have started weaning especially on vegetables such as peas or spinach. The stool could range from dark green-to-green, tan to brown and even yellow. This stool also tends to be firmer.

Alert: Considering this stool is firmer than most, you may want to watch out for constipation. Less frequency of passing stools, hard pebble-like stool or strain during bowel movement are clear signs of constipation.

Orange

Normal: Orange stool is as a result of pigments picked from your baby’s digestive tract.

White/Grey

Alert: This isn’t normal at all. Whitish, chalkish or greyish stool could be an indication your child isn’t producing enough bile, which helps in digesting food. Consult your doctor immediately.

Mucus and/or frothy stool

Normal: This is quite okay during the first few days after birth as it is part of the meconium. Frothy stool (and sometimes mucus) may be present in babies who are drooling and teething.

Alert: If your child isn’t drooling or teething then consult your doctor as the mucus and froth could be indicators of a possible infection.

Food particles

Normal: Food pieces may turn up in your baby’s stool once they start weaning. This is perfectly okay, as some of them can’t be digested just yet, so your baby’s system simply passes them.