Your quick and easy guide to newborn diapers/nappies

You’ll soon reach an expert level at identifying, sniffing out, and changing diapers. But until you get well-versed in your baby’s bowel movements, we’ll help you figure out what’s normal.


The first stools are called meconium. This tarry, sticky gunk is made up of digested mucus and amniotic fluid that the baby swallowed while in utero. Expect the first black-and-green colored meconium nappy within 24 hours after the birth. “Colostrum has a laxative effect, helping to ‘flush’ out the meconium,” says Leana Habeck, a registered nurse and qualified lactation consultant at The Breastfeeding Clinic.


The color and consistency of the baby’s poo will change gradually. “Stools become lighter in color, changing to greenish and then to yellow (around day four or five) and becomes softer, and more liquid,” says Darol Wilmot, registered nurse, and midwife at All About Babies. Depending on how the baby is fed, there are different “normals”.


Mustard yellow to green or brown. Seedy & pasty in consistency, like scrambled egg. Could be runny. Could change often and without warning. No offensive smell.


Shades of yellow or brown. Pasty consistency, much like peanut butter.
Fewer and smellier stools than in breastfed babies.


“It is very unusual for a breastfed baby to become constipated, as breastmilk is high in lactose and very well digested,” adds Darol. “Formula-fed babies very often do become constipated as this milk is more difficult to digest than breastmilk.”

Most healthy babies will have a bowel movement as soon as they are fed. However, some will not pass a stool at every feed, in which case you should remember that as long as your newborn does not have to strain too much and the stools are a normal color, he is not constipated. It is also normal for a healthy newbie to grunt and strain during a normal bowel movement – again, this is not a sign that your baby is constipated.

Hard, round, pellet-like stools are a sign of constipation at this stage. As long as his poos are a soft consistency, your baby is not constipated – even if she has not done a poo in days. Unlike adults, the frequency of stools is not an indication of constipation in babies this young.

If your formula-fed baby has hard irregular stools that often cause him to cry while passing them, take him to a healthcare provider to discuss changing his formula. Only a clinic sister or doctor is allowed to give you advice.


Very frequent, watery, and green stools (possibly also smelly) might mean diarrhea

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