Baby and toddler poo - what to expect

Last Reviewed: October 2022

The colour, consistency and frequency of your baby’s poo can tell you a lot about their general health and development.

On this page we explain what kind of poo to expect at the different stages in your baby’s life. There’s also advice on things to look out for when they begin weaning (eating solid food) and potty training.

Read our main factsheets Advice for children with constipation, Advice for children with daytime bladder problems and Advice for children with night time wetting for more information, including downloadable PDFs of the factsheets.

Newborn babies and poo - what should their poo look like?

Knowing what's 'normal' and how to keep your child’s bowel working properly makes it easier to spot if something is not right.

Here's what to look out for in your newborn's nappies:

  • The first poo your baby passes is called ‘meconium’. It will be a greenish-black colour and a sticky, tar like texture. 87% of babies pass meconium within their first 24 hours and 99% within 48 hours. It shows that your baby’s bowel is working properly to clear waste.
  • Baby girls may pass some white discharge from their vagina which is often tinged with blood. This is normal and is caused by hormonal changes.
  • As meconium clears from their bowel in the first few days, and your baby feeds, the colour of their poo starts to change. It goes from the sticky black poo to a yellow/mustard colour. This is all normal.
  • Your baby's poos should stay soft until they start eating solid food when poo becomes firmer.

It is important to speak to your GP, midwife or Health Visitor if you have any worries about your baby’s bowel movements at this early stage.

Watery poo

Your baby may be suffering from diarrhoea if their poo is very watery and they’re passing bigger amounts of poo more often than normal.

It can be difficult to spot the signs of baby diarrhoea as their poo tends to be runny especially if they’re breastfed.

Watery poo along with a high temperature and very smelly nappies is likely to be a sign of a stomach infection.

Contact your GP if you think you are concerned your baby may have diarrhoea.

In the meantime, give your baby lots of fluids (formula, water or breast milk) to stop them getting dehydrated.

Dry hard poo

If your baby is passing poo which is dry, hard and looks like little pellets they are likely to be constipated. Contact your doctor or a nurse so they can assess your baby for constipation and discuss the right treatment with you.

How often should my baby poo?

The number of bowel movements a baby does each day can vary a lot, depending on their age and whether they are breast or formula fed.

The time it takes their feed to go through their system (called ‘transit time’) will be faster at 3 months old than at 12 months old. This means the number of poos your baby does each day reduces as they grow.

Here’s a guide to the average number of poos your baby should pass each day/week:

Child's age Average number of poos per week Average number of poos per day
0-3 months breast fed5-402.9
0-3 months formula fed5-282.0
6-12 months5-282.0
1-3 years4-211.4
3 years and older3-141

How often should a breastfed baby poo?

Babies who are fed breast milk usually pass softer poo more often than those who are formula fed.

The ‘on-demand’ way breastfed babies tend to feed and the milk they get means that their poo is usually runny and golden in colour. It also doesn't smell too strongly.

They may poo several times a day, especially in the first few weeks of life. After a month or so the frequency may reduce; they may even go a few days without a bowel movement.

Breast milk is designed to be easily digested so there might not be much waste. As long as your baby is growing well, gaining weight and their poo is soft, you don’t need to worry.

How often should a formula fed baby poo?

Formula-fed babies' poo tends to be firmer, darker brown and stronger smelling than breastfed babies. Some formulas can also make your baby's poo a different colour such as dark green.

If you change from breast to formula feeding, your baby’s poo is likely to become darker and more paste-like.

Constipation is quite common in formula fed babies. If your baby is struggling to poo, changing their formula may help, but this should only be done after talking it through with your GP or Health Visitor.

Talk to your GP or Health Visitor if you have any concerns about their feeding or pooing.

Tips for helping your baby to poo

  • A relaxing warm bath can help to get poo moving.
  • Gentle tummy massage – watch this video to see how to do this safely
  • Bicycle leg exercises – lay your baby on their back and gently move their legs in a circle/bicycle motion. This will help their stomach muscles to move and put gentle stimulation on their bowels.
  • If your baby is already eating solid foods then diluted fruit juice, such as apple, pear or prune, or the fruit itself can help to stimulate their bowel. Fruits, such as apples, pears and prunes, contain sorbitol. This is a natural laxative, helping the bowel retain water, which helps their poo stay soft and easy to pass.

Starting solid food (weaning)

Weaning changes poo. Once your baby starts on solids, their poo will smell stronger and be less easy to wipe.

As they begin to try a bigger selection of foods, their poo becomes thicker and darker.

More fibre-rich foods will pass straight through your baby, until their digestive system has developed enough to deal with them properly.

Potty training

Before your toddler stops wearing nappies, there are lots of skills for them to learn with your help to make the process easier.

We have lots more information and support about how to prepare your child for potty training.Let's Go Potty

Making sure your toddler is drinking enough and they’re passing a daily soft poo will make toilet training a lot easier.

It’s important to get any underlying constipation treated before you stop using nappies as it will make the process difficult.

Constipation in babies and toddlers

Constipation can start at any age and is particularly common in toddlers especially at the potty training stage.

Recognising the signs and symptoms of baby constipation means you can avoid it becoming a ‘chronic’ problem and get the treatment your baby needs.

If you think that your child may be constipated, use our poo diary to track how often they are pooing. Our poo checker shows the different types of poo and what they mean:

Bristol Stool Scale for Children

Other signs that your baby could be constipated include:

  • Not wanting to feed if they haven’t done a poo for a couple of days, then being hungry again once they’ve opened their bowels.
  • Having an uncomfortable tummy which is relieved by doing a poo.
  • Passing a large amount of poo all at once. Even if it is soft/runny, storing up a large quantity of poo means that their lower bowel has been stretched, and this is not good for any baby.
  • Disturbed sleep, crying, drawing knees up, stretching legs out, straining, swollen/distended tummy - relieved by doing a big poo.
  • Streaks of bright red blood in their nappy or mixed in with their poo. Pushing or straining can sometimes cause a small tear (anal fissure) around their bottom.

Why is my baby constipated?

Common causes of constipation in babies include:

  • Not getting enough fluids.
    With formula fed babies this could be because their feed is too concentrated with not enough water.
    For breast fed babies, they may not be getting enough milk. Contact your midwife or health visitor for more help with feeding advice.
  • Passing a hard poo.
    This can make it hard for a baby to relax their bottom muscles and let poo out the next time they feel it coming. This is known as withholding and makes constipation worse.
  • Weaning.
    It's really important to make sure your baby is having plenty of water-based drinks in between mealtimes to avoid them becoming constipated.
  • Not eating enough fruit and vegetables once they are weaned.
    A high dairy food intake (too much cow’s milk for example) can affect some babies.
  • Having an illness.
    Common childhood illnesses such as a cold with high temperature, diarrhoea and vomiting  cause dehydrated which can lead to constipation.

How to relieve constipation in babies

If you think your baby is constipated it is important to book an appointment with your GP.

They should assess your baby and check for any underlying medical condition.

Your doctor may decide to prescribe a laxative to help your baby poo. Laxatives are safe to use in babies and small children and are licensed for them.

Without treatment, constipation may not go away on its own and can become chronic.

Here is some more information on treating breastfed babies who are constipated.


Find out what is the best age and how to start potty training.

Constipation signs, symptoms and relief for your baby.

On this page...

    Upcoming events

    Share this page