Black Poop in Infants: Reasons & when to Worry?

Black Poop in Babies – What Does It Mean

The colour of the baby’s stool can provide so much information about the baby’s digestive system and most new parents would see poop in various shades, including green, brown and red. However, one of the most alarming shades of baby stool is black. This is one of the scariest colours since black poop, seen in the diaper of babies who are older than 3 months, could be a sign of a problem in the digestive tract. The following information will help you better determine if infant poop in black colour is a cause for concern or is simply a normal process.

Black Stool in Babies- Is It Normal?

Black poop is sometimes perfectly normal, but it also can be a cause of concern. Therefore, whether it is normal or not depends on how old the babies are, what type of formula or milk they have been drinking, its consistency and other such factors.

After you first bring your little one home from the hospital, you might notice that the first few diapers you change usually feature black, stinky poop-like substance that may look like tar. This black tarry stool in baby’s diaper is known as the “meconium”, a thing that slowly filled the system of your baby while in the womb, and is passing out once the baby is born. Therefore, if it is meconium in newborn babies, black poop is not just normal but is also a sign that the bowels are functionally normally.

Another reason for the black poop would be the formula your baby drinks. If you give them iron-fortified formula, then you may notice black poop regularly in the baby’s diaper. This is also a very normal situation since iron ingredients present in the baby’s formula is causing the poop to become dark black. Iron-fortified medications would also cause dark baby poop. When providing such medications, most paediatricians would notify the parents about the change in colour of the stool.

If your baby, who is around or over 3 months old and is not drinking iron-fortified formula, has black poop in his diaper, then it is not normal. Black, thick stools in babies who are 3-months-old or above can be a sign of bleeding in the digestive tract. This would require medical attention right away.

mom changing the baby's diaper

What Causes Black Poop in Infants?

When your baby begins producing black stools, you will have to start monitoring the situation. The following are a few reasons for black stool in babies:

1. Digested Blood

If blood gets into the baby’s gut and goes through the digestive process, then you may notice black stuff in baby’s poop. The blood turns to a dark red-black colour because it got digested. If this occurs, then you will have to take your baby to the paediatrician immediately in order to investigate the cause of blood getting into the digestive system of the little one. A reason for this could be the acid that gets into the oesophagus, damaging it to the extent that it starts bleeding. Gastritis or ulcer will also cause bleeding, although this is rare.

Digested blood could also be caused by something less serious like a bloody nose or blood swallowed while breastfeeding from a cracked nipple. If this is the case, then you would notice black flecks in baby poop. Since it is hard to determine what the reason is, it is best to check with the doctor to find out the cause and check if treatment is required.

2. Specific Foods

There are certain foods that can change the colour of the baby’s stool and turn it black. Foods like prunes, berries, and bananas can change the stool’s colour. This is common in babies since their digestive system is still developing. Other foods that could cause black poop would include black candy, oreo cookies and liquorice.

3. New Diets

When you introduce new foods into the diet of your little one, it could change the colour of the stool. In the beginning, this is normal since it is a sign that the baby’s stomach is still getting used to the new ingredients. However, you will have to consult your healthcare provider if the problem persists a few days after the introduction of new foods into the diet.

4. Constipation

Poop that looks like pebbles and is firmer than usual is a sign of constipation. Sometimes, this type of poop could also be black in colour. You may also notice fresh blood in this type of stool if the baby’s anus has a cut during the bowel movement. This is normal when the poop is really hard. Constipation in babies will usually be seen after changes have been made to the baby’s diet. It could also be an indication that the little one is intolerant of the formula you are providing. If constipation is the reason, you could ask your doctor for a solution to get the baby’s bowels moving.

5. Iron

Black poop could also mean that your little one is getting excessive amounts of iron. If you have been giving the baby multivitamins rich in iron, iron-rich formula, or iron supplements, then you will notice black poop in the diapers. Excess iron in the body is not good, so it is best to check with the doctor and find solutions for balancing the iron levels in the baby’s body.

Dark Grey Poop in Babies

If your baby’s diaper contains poop that is dark grey, then take your baby to the doctor since this is a cause for concern. Dark grey poop means that your baby’s system is not digesting food properly and is not absorbing enough nutrients for functioning. The same goes for diapers containing white and chalky stools.

mom worried about the baby's black stool

Dark Green Poop in Babies

Sometimes, when you take a closer look at the black poop, you might notice that it is not black, but dark green. Dark green poop usually appears black in dim or bad lighting. In order to check the colour, you could put a bit of in on a cotton swab, wipe it on a small piece of paper and hold it under a bright light. If the stool is dark green instead of black, you have nothing to worry about. Sometimes, digestive juices from the intestines and the stomach can get out through the poop, causing the poop to be dark green.

However, do not worry if you have panicked over black poop that looks black but isn’t. A lot of parents do this and, if you are really concerned, you could always check with your paediatrician.

When to Worry About the Baby’s Black Poop

When your baby’s poop looks like meconium but is firmer than usual, then it is a cause for concern. If the diaper features this type of poop, then it is better to take your baby to the paediatrician right away. You should also take the baby to the doctor if he shows signs of straining while pooping or has an upset stomach. To determine the cause of the black stool, the paediatrician would perform various tests and exams on the baby. If your doctor suggests further medical treatment, then it would make your baby feel better sooner and will make sure the baby’s digestive system functions go back to normal.

Black poop is normal in most cases and the reasons for it would be personal situations depending on factors, including the baby’s eating habits. However, if you are unsure of the reason for the change in colour, then it is best to ask your paediatrician.

Also Read:

Infant’s Poop: What’s Normal & What’s Not
Mucus in Baby’s Stool
Abnormal Poos and Wees In Babies

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Ruchelle has a vast experience working with clients in hospitality, health and wellness, entertainment, real estate, and retail. She aims to utilise her learnings to deliver quality content which will in turn help drive sales and customer engagement.