The lowdown on baby poop, pee and posset

What comes out of your little one can reveal a surprising amount about her health.

04 July 2018
By Glynis Horning

However fastidious you may be, as a parent you will need to get down and dirty, and deal with all manner of substances emitted by your little one.

You’ll soon find yourself comparing colour, quantity and frequency with other moms and dads.


This can come as the biggest shock, because baby’s first poo is as dark, thick and sticky as Marmite. Called meconium, it contains the remains of what she ingested during your pregnancy – including amniotic fluid, lanugo (foetal body hair) and bile.

If you breast feed, this will change in a day or two of your milk coming in, turning to a light brown paste, then a runny, mustard yellow, seedy “cottage cheese”. Formula-fed babies’ poop remains light brown and much the consistency of peanut butter.

Breast-fed babies can have a bowel movement at every feed, while formula-fed ones may have only one a day – but like adults, babies all differ in their bowel habits.

Only worry and see your healthcare provider if:

  • Poop is very runny (like water), smelly and frequent, suggesting diarrhea. “Normal baby poop tends to be runny, but as long as it doesn’t have an offensive sickly smell, or is not happening on the hour every hour, then it’s fine,” says Sister Conny Fraser, registered nurse and midwife, who runs the Baby Grow Clinic in Cape Town.
  • There are traces of blood or mucous.
  • Baby is also vomiting, lethargic and won’t drink.
  • Poop looks like hard pebbles, indicating dehydration.
  • She doesn’t poop, and is straining or in discomfort (she may be constipated).
  • Poop is very light (she may have jaundice).


This is a good indication of whether your baby is getting enough fluids. If you are breast-feeding, she may pee only once on the first day (when she will be getting only colostrum, your “premilk”), and have only two wet nappies a day for the next few days, says Fraser. 

Once your breast milk comes in (around day five), she will probably have six to eight wet nappies a day. If she is formula-fed, she can have up to 10 a day.

Urine should be a clear, pale yellow – dark pee suggests dehydration, and cloudy pee, infection.

See your healthcare provider if:

  • Baby passes only a little dark yellow pee after day four.
  • She produces fewer than six wet nappies a day after day five.
  • She looks lethargic and a little yellow (she may have jaundice).
  • Her urine is cloudy or smelly (she may have an infection).


Newborns can spit up after every feed, as their stomachs are tiny, and the valve in their “food pipe” (the lower oesophageal sphincter) may not have properly developed (this can take up to six months).

To cut down on posseting, give baby smaller feeds more often, be sure to wind her after each, and hold her upright for a while, suggests Fraser. Later on, spit-ups can be triggered by certain foods or by teething, when baby produces more saliva.

See your healthcare provider if:

  • She projectile vomits and has a temperature.
  • She vomits for more than once a day.
  • She spits up blood (it can signal infection) or greenish bile (it can signal a blockage).

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IMAGE CREDIT: Getty Images