Black Poop in Babies – Causes and Intervention

5 min read

It is believed that babies can’t see in color until they are 4-6 months old. Though their world seems to be mostly made of white, black, or grey to their eyes, their poop is not restricted to these colors! Yes, we are talking baby poop – the very colorful baby poop! If you are a new parent, you might have seen a few shades of poop. If you are a parent-to-be, be prepared to see some unexpected colors when it’s time for a diaper change. A baby’s first poop is almost black in color, thus making this uncommon color, a very common shade of poop in babies.

So when is black poop normal? When should you be worried about this strong color in stools? Come, let’s find out!

Black Poop in Babies

Black Poop/Stools in Babies – Is it Normal?

A baby’s first poop, called the meconium is black in color and sticky in texture. This is absolutely normal. The baby ingests some of the amniotic fluid it is floating in, mucus and bile along with all the other food that reaches it through the umbilical cord. When a baby passes its first stool, it is black and sticky. This can continue for 2-3 days after birth. This is perfectly normal in any newborn baby. So, there is nothing to worry about here.

This does not mean the black sticky poop must last for 3 days. However, it should start changing color after a maximum of 3 days as the baby will be on an exclusive milk diet (breast milk/ formula).

What Causes Black Poop in Infants?

As mentioned above, in the first few days, a baby’s poop tends to be black and sticky. After that, the stool changes color gradually.

Black stools in babies can be caused by:

  1. High iron content in their body. This can be because of iron-fortified formula milk.
  2. If the mother is on iron supplements that are increasing the iron content in her milk fed to the baby.
  3. Internal bleeding in the digestive tract.
  4. Fissures in the baby’s anus, caused by hard stools as a result of indigestion. Sometimes the red blood mixed with the stool may look black in color. Read here to know more on blood in baby’s stool.

If your baby has started eating solids, check for any dark-colored food in their diet. They might be just swallowing it instead of chewing and digesting the food. This can result in specks of black in the poop. Some foods that can cause dark-colored stools are – blackberries, black grapes or grape juice, black raisins, dark-colored candy (heavy food coloring).

mom changing diaper

Dark Grey Poop in Babies

Sometimes, babies may pass grey poop. This is not something you can ignore. If the stools continue to be in this shade or dark color, it could mean constipation. The baby may not be digesting the food well enough to absorb the nutrients and everything may be just coming out.

Sometimes a regular shade of poop can have dark or grey colored bits in it. This could be because of undigested bits of food. The baby might be digesting only a part of what they are eating.

Dark Green Poop in Babies

Sometimes a very dark green poop can be mistaken for black. If you notice the stool properly under enough light, you will notice it to be in a dark shade of green. This is quite common not only in babies or children but in adults too.

What Causes Green Poop?

The reasons for green poop in babies could be:

  • Green colored foods like leafy vegetables.
  • Green colored candy and other foods that use dark green coloring.
  • When there is a lot of bile in the blood, it can change the baby’s poop into a dark green shade.

None of the above reasons is a cause for concern; but if you notice your child is uncomfortable or is crying constantly, it is safer to consult your doctor.

young mom calling doctor

When to Worry About Baby’s Black Poop?

When the baby’s poop is black in color for the first 2-3 days after birth, it is nothing to worry about. However, if this color is noticed in the baby’s stool after they are 3 months+ of age, you need to check with your pediatrician immediately.

For all that you know, it could be just the iron content in the formula milk you are giving your child. If the baby is exclusively breastfed, the mother’s diet and iron content in the blood could also be responsible for the black poop, but nothing is certain.

Internal bleeding can get very serious very fast. A tiny baby will not be able to express its discomfort or pain other than just crying about it. So, when you notice the poop is black in color, consult your doctor immediately.

The pediatrician will then check for internal bleeding and may prescribe some tests to ascertain the actual cause behind the black poop. Even if the results come out as nothing serious enough to worry about, you would’ve gotten a professional opinion and ruled out anything serious.

The Last Word

A baby’s poop can tell a lot about their health. As long as the baby is passing urine and stools regularly, and in the right consistency, a parent need not worry about the frequency of poop. However, if the stools are dark or even very pale in color and emanate a strong odor, then it is an indication that something is not right on the inside. This will require medical intervention and medications.

If your baby is on formula milk, check the contents and the specifications if any. There is iron-fortified formula milk for infants who have very low iron levels in their bodies. If you have opted for a formula that is high in iron, this could be the reason for the dark-colored poop.

Also, if you notice your baby is crying when passing stool and the stool is dark in color, it could indicate anal fissure or other injuries on the inside. The blood, when mixed with the poop turns into a dark shade and looks black.

FAQ’s

1. What Causes the Poop to Get Hard and Dark?

If your baby is dehydrated or is not drinking enough water or liquids, it can cause the stool to become hard and dark in color. The slow movement of the poop through the system can also cause it to become dark in color.

2. What Can You do to Change Poop Colour?

If the doctor has ruled out any medical conditions, then it could be just the food. See if they have eaten something with a dark food coloring (candies, cake icing, fondant, etc are made using strong food colors). If your baby eats black raisins or blackberries regularly, they may be swallowing it as a whole rather than chewing it. This can cause black spots in the food (the undigested berries). Avoiding these foods and including more colored foods can help change the poop color.

3. Will My Doctor Ask for a Stool Test?

This depends on what the doctor suspects. If they suspect an internal bleed, a test may be required to confirm the same. If the doctor does not feel it is anything serious, they might just ask you to avoid the dark-colored foods and include other colored foods in your baby’s diet.

Read Also: White Poop In Babies – Causes And Symptoms

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