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Wet Diapers and Bowel Movements - Infant

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 healthy:
  • Baby is bright and alert.
  • Baby is growing and developing.
  • Baby is gaining weight.
Before mom’s breastmilk comes in, the baby’s urine may be reddish brown and concentrated. Once mom’s milk comes in, baby’s urine will be pale coloured and mild smelling. These are both normal conditions.

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.
Check out the Baby Friendly NL Breastfeeding Handbook for more information on breastfeeding your baby.

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 you 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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Updated Jan 31, 2018