Is Baby Poop Full of Germs?

Reviewed on 6/14/2022
Is baby poop full of germs
Newborn babies do not have any germs in their gut, and their bacterial diversity will only reach an adult's level once they reach their first birthday.

Among new parents, a few things generate concern and discussions with one of them being a newborn poop. A child's poop can be a stressful topic for parents because there is varied information about your little one's diapers.

Even though diaper changes are a regular part of a parent's life, educating oneself about the color, consistency, and frequency of a child's poop can help monitor the child's health and development.

In the guts of newborns, there are no germs. Infants are exposed to microorganisms from their mothers' feces during delivery. Children's bacterial diversity will not reach an adult's levels until they reach their first birthday. The bacterial composition has a big impact on their health.

How much poop is normal?

The number of times infants have a bowel movement varies; however, most have one to two bowel movements a day in the first month. For the first 7 days of life, a breastfed child might have a bowel movement with every feeding. A formula-fed infant, however, will have fewer bowel movements. Both are normal.

What's normal for newborn poop?

The newborn's initial diapers will probably contain a gooey, dark-green, tar-like substance, with no smell. This is called meconium. It is made up of cells, amniotic fluid, bile, lanugo hairs, and other materials ingested in the womb, as well as mucus.

A child's bowels produce mucus that can last for the first few days. This transitions later into a darker green tone before taking the color and texture of a typical child's feces. Breastfeeding can help the feces pass out from the child's body because breast milk is a characteristic laxative. However, bottle-fed children should have no difficulty passing feces either.

Transitional poop

Between the third and sixth day of life, the thick dark meconium will start to change into a thinner, looser greenish-brown or greenish-yellow transitional stool. The transitional stool is a mix of meconium, and the following phase of bowels is called milk stools. When the meconium is fully out of the child's system, their poop can vary depending on what they are being fed.

Milk stools

After the sixth day, the child will no longer have meconium in their body, and they will start having milk stools. These stools can differ from the time a child starts feeding on a breast or bottle until beginning solid food varieties.

  • Breastfed babies: Breastfed infant stools in the initial months might appear golden, mustard-yellow color; however, the color can be a variety of shading from orange to green with a somewhat runny consistency, potentially with whitish, seed-like fat particles (undigested milk). A small amount of mucus in the poop with a mild odor is normal.
  • Formula-fed babies: If the child is formula-fed, the child's poop will be firmer and have a stronger odor. It will have a more glue-like consistency and a darker yellow or tan color.
  • Babies in the weaning stage: Post beginning solid food varieties to the child at about six months, there will be a smell and significant changes in the contents of the child's diapers due to the additional fats and sugars in their eating regimen. Their stools will get firmer, and the shading will vary more relying on what they are fed. If the child is eating finger foods, there will be undigested pieces of food, such as the skins of peas or tomatoes. This is because the child's digestive system is learning to process new food varieties.

When to see a doctor

If there is blood in the baby's poop, you might need to take them directly to the emergency room.

Aside from constipation and diarrhea, some other signs that need urgent care can include the following:

  • Has not had a wet diaper in 12 hours
  • Fever
  • Excessive vomiting
  • Lethargy or difficulty waking up
  • Stops eating or feeding
  • Looks sick

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References
Image Source: iStock Images

Cleveland Clinic. "The Color of Baby Poop and What It Means." <https://health.clevelandclinic.org/the-color-of-baby-poop-and-what-it-means-infographic/>.

University of Michigan Health System. "Bowel Movements in Babies." <https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/abo3062>.

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