Diaper 101: What’s normal for a newborn and when to worry


New parents spend an awful lot of time discussing dirty diapers – and for good reason. Your baby’s output is indicative of his or her overall health. While every baby is different, there are some general guidelines to adhere to, giving you peace of mind that your newborn baby is as healthy as can be. In the first weeks of motherhood, here’s what you can expect – and what you’ll want to keep a watchful eye out for:

Wet diapers

What’s normal: After 4 days of life, your baby should wet 4 to 6 diapers each day. A newborn’s pee may range from pale to dark yellow – and may even appear sandy and pink when it’s highly concentrated. Also keep in mind that a newborn girl may pass small amounts of blood in her urine. This usually isn’t anything to worry over and is likely attributed to a surge in mom’s hormones before delivery.

When to worry: If your baby is wetting less than 4 to 6 diapers each day, it may be a sign that he or she is dehydrated and not taking in enough formula or milk. If you notice blood in a baby boy’s diaper, or more than just an occasional drop in your baby girl’s diaper, it may be a sign of a kidney issue or urinary tract infection. Both of these symptoms call for extra care and a trip to the pediatrician.

Soiled diapers

What’s normal: The first soiled diapers you’ll see will contain a dark, thick, and tarry substance called meconium. This can be an alarming sight, but rest assured finding a black to green bowel movement is perfectly normal in the first few days of life.

After that, you’ll find your baby’s stool varies in color depending on what you’ve eaten and how quickly your newborn has digested his or her meal. For breastfed babies, it’s totally normal to see loose, runny, and seedy stools ranging from yellow to brown to slightly green in color.

If your little one is formula-fed, you’ll see more consistency. Look for stools that are yellow or light brown and firmer in texture.

Whether breast or formula fed, the frequency of your baby’s bowel movements may have a confusing pattern. You may find your baby produces a soiled diaper during every feeding or even once every few days.

When to worry: While there are many harmless reasons for spotting blood in a diaper, you’ll want to rule out any serious conditions by contacting your baby’s pediatrician right away. If you notice white or gray bowel movements, that should be a signal to call your child’s health care provider, too. This could be a sign that your little one is having trouble processing food and waste properly. 

Consider these guidelines your newborn diaper basics. Keep in mind that there are many variations of normal and that each child is unique. If you have any questions or concerns about your baby’s diaper output, we encourage you, as always, to contact his or her pediatrician. 

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