What’s normal in the first few weeks: a nappy chart

What’s normal in the first few weeks: a nappy chart 

Click on the nappy chart to access a downloadable PDF, or scroll to the end of this article to see it: 

What goes in, must come out

It’s amazing how obsessed you become with your child’s nappies in the first few weeks! I’d been a midwife for 10 years when I had my first child, and had been reassuring parents for years about normal nappies. And yet, I found myself googling “baby poo” when my daughter was a few days old!

If your baby is having plenty of wet and dirty nappies, then you know that they are getting plenty of milk. This is especially reassuring if you are breastfeeding, and you’re not sure if your baby is getting enough milk. I’ve written about this in more detail here: Are you making enough breastmilk for your baby? : (rebeccascottpillai.co.uk)

Weight loss and nappy output

All newborn babies lose a little bit of weight in the first few days. Usually, they start to regain their birthweight after day 3, and should be back up to their birthweight by 14 days of age. Some babies that pee a lot in the first few days may lose quite a bit of weight. On day one we really only expect them to have had one wet nappy. If your baby has 5-6 heavy wet nappies on day 1, then you may find that by day 3 they have lost 10% of their birthweight or more. This is not an issue especially if feeding is going well, and you’re also seeing lots of dirty nappies! 

What would be more concerning is if your baby is only having 1-2 wet nappies per day until day 3 and has lost 10% or more of their birthweight. If you are also struggling with breastfeeding, then you may want to get some help and support. There is often quite a lot you can do to get a baby’s weight gain back on track. 

Four cloth nappies sit in the foreground on a table. In the background there are two stacks of disposable nappies

What should pee nappies look like?

Pee should be a pale yellow colour, often referred to as “straw coloured”. When you take a wet nappy off, it should feel heavier than a fresh nappy. If you are not sure if whether the nappy is heavy enough, you can pour 30 ml (1oz) of water into a dry nappy to feel what one pee should feel like. 

Sometimes babies can have a orangey-red tinge to their pee around day 2 or 3. These are commonly referred to as urates, and are a byproduct of your baby using their own energy stores until your milk supply increases. This isn’t cause for concern, but we would expect them to disappear by day 4. 

It can sometimes be hard to tell if your baby has done a pee or not, especially if there is a very large poo in the nappy too! You can put a cotton wool ball inside the nappy at the front if you are finding it hard to work out how many pees your baby is doing. Some disposable nappies have a line that changes blue when babies pee which can be helpful too. Cloth nappies often feel much damper than disposable nappies and so may be easier to tell if your baby has a wet nappy or not. 

A baby is having their nappy changed. The baby is lying on their back on top of a blanket.

What should poo nappies be like?

Your baby’s first poo is called meconium. This is a thick, black, sticky tar like substance that can be really difficult to clean! Over the course of 4-5 days it will change colour until it is a dark yellow (mustard) colour. 

Your baby should poo every day until they are six weeks old. Ideally you should see two poos a day, that are at least the size of a £2 coin – that’s around 1 inch across. If your baby isn’t pooing every day, then again, it’s worth reviewing what else is going on. If you are breastfeeding, then getting some support around feeding should get everything back on track. It would be quite normal for breastfed babies that are getting good volumes of milk to poo with every feed in the first few weeks. 

What does normal poo look like?

There can be quite a variety in colour and texture when it comes to normal poo!

Consistency 

Most breastfed babies have very runny poo, to the extent that you may worry that it’s diarrhoea. Bottlefed babies should still have fairly soft poo as well, although it may be a bit thicker and like a paste. You may notice little grains in the nappy – almost like mustard seeds, or the poo may be completely smooth – these are both normal. If your baby does a poo when they are on the changing mat, or they have just done a poo before you change a nappy, the poo may look a bit frothy. Again, quite normal! 

Mucous

There may be a few strings of mucous in the poo. There is mucous in the gut to protect it, so sometimes this will be present in nappies too. A little bit of mucous is normal. If there is a lot of mucous, then there may be some degree of gut irritation. This gut irritation could be caused by an allergy, an overload of lactose (if you have an oversupply), or perhaps your baby has had a tummy bug. If your baby has had a cold, sometimes you’ll see more mucous in the nappies too. 

Colour

While most poo is a yellow, mustard seed colour, there can be a wide range of colours! Usually anything from yellow to light brown is considered normal. The occasional green nappy isn’t anything to worry about either. This usually just means that the milk has moved very quickly through your baby’s gut and hasn’t been fully digested. Persistent green nappies (ie every single one) probably needs a bit of investigation – the most likely cause is an intolerance to something you are eating (if you are breastfeeding). If you are formula feeding, you will probably see other signs of dairy allergy as well as green nappies. 

Straining and grunting

It is quite common for babies to strain and grunt and even cry a little before doing a poo. If the poo that they pass is soft or runny, then they aren’t constipated. What you are seeing is most likely infant dyschezia. While it sounds scary, essentially what’s happening is that your baby can’t work out what muscles to use to do a poo! 

At rest, the external anal sphincter is open. When pressure builds up in the rectum, adults have the ability (usually) to consciously close the anal sphincter to prevent an embarrassing situation. Or, if they are on a toilet, they can let it relax. Babies may feel this pressure build up and instinctively close this sphincter, but then feel this pressure in their bowel. They cry, wriggle, grunt, until they work out how to relax it so they can do a poo. 

Nappy chart

Newborn nappy chart detailing reassuring output for the first six weeks

Are you reassured?

Hopefully, everything you’ve read in this article has reassured you that your baby’s nappies are normal. If you are still concerned, and you’d like some support, then check out my newborn consultation. It’s perfect for concerns about feeding and nappies! 

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