Wet Diapers and Bowel Movements

Parents are often concerned about the number of wet diapers and bowel movements their baby has as this can be a sign of how much milk they are getting.

However, it is important to remember there are other positive signs that a baby is growing and developing well:

  • Baby is content after most feedings.
  • Breasts feel less firm after a feeding.
  • Baby is swallowing at the breast.
  • Baby is bright and alert.
  • Baby feels heavier and is filling out clothes.
  • Baby is gaining weight.

Sometimes babies can have reddish-brown spots or crystals in the diaper, and this is normal during the first few days. Before mom’s breastmilk comes in, the baby’s urine may be pale coloured and mild-smelling.

Bowel movements will also change over time in both the number you will see and what they actually look like. During the first week, bowel movements can be very loose, seedy, have a mild odour and change from black to dark green to mustard yellow. After the first month, baby’s bowel movements may be less frequent.

Formula-fed babies often have firmer, less seedy stools than breast-fed babies. Wet diapers should have clear or very pale urine.

Sometimes it is difficult to know if disposable diapers are wet or not. To know what a wet diaper feels like, pour two to four tablespoons of water in a dry diaper and feel the weight of it. You can also place a tissue in the diaper and you will see when it is wet.

See your health-care provider if your baby:

  • suddenly has fewer wet diapers and seems sick or isn’t feeding well;
  • passes hard or pellet like stool and has trouble passing stool;
  • has blood in their diaper; or
  • has diarrhea, watery or explosive stool and seems unwell.

This may be difficult to judge in some breastfed babies.Take your baby to the hospital immediately if there are no wet or dirty diapers in a 24-hour period and he or she seems unwell.

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Last updated: 2019-08-14