Orange colored stool
Orange colored stool might seem a bit like a unicorn: rare and unusual. But in and of itself, orange poop is normal, especially if unaccompanied by any other symptoms. That’s because there is a range of “normal” poop colors that vary from person to person. Poop color depends on the digestive process as well as bile and bacteria. Diet, including food and drink, can also affect poop color, as can vitamins, supplements, and medications.
Most likely, for babies who've begun eating solid foods, orange colored stool is the result of eating a lot of orange foods like carrots or apricots. At the same time, if orange stool is accompanied by other symptoms, then this may worth checking as it be a sign of digestive troubles.
Can newborn poop be orange?
The short answer is, no. Newborn poop, or meconium, is typically thick and black or dark green in color, and it is seen for the first few days of an infant’s life. One of the many benefits of breastfeeding, colostrum’s white blood cells and antibodies help set the stage for a strong immune system, and its laxative properties help the meconium pass.
After a few days, meconium changes to more of a transitional stool, a mixture of the black from meconium and more of a greenish-yellow or greenish-brown color. The texture will be looser as well, often with more of a seedy, mustard-like appearance. As baby changes and grows, their poop will as well. Following those first few days of transitional poop, you can still expect to see colors ranging from bright yellow and orange to greenish tan and dark green.
You will have many questions as a new mother, and one of them will probably be checking your baby's diaper frequently and asking "Is this normal?" Fortunately, most of the time, it is.
Breastfed baby orange poop
The benefits of breastfeeding are many. Aside from vitamin D, breast milk gives babies the right balance of nutrients in the form of vitamins, proteins, and fat that changes as they grow to meet their needs. It also helps boost immunity and protects against SIDS. Breast milk, like formula, can also affect the color of a baby’s poop.
Once the meconium passes, a newborn’s stool may be a mustard-yellow color. This color of stool is also most common in breastfed babies.
A newborn’s stool becomes mustard-yellow or green after the meconium passes. This is also the most common poop color for breastfed babies. Dark green can appear when first introducing solids that are a green color. For formula-fed babies, poop that's more of a tannish green is also very common. Orange baby poop is slightly less common than these two colors but still completely normal. But where does that color come from? Once solids are introduced, orange foods can also be the cause.
Although seen less frequently, red poop is another common poop color that can also be caused by eating red foods such as beets or tomatoes. But even among babies still getting only breast milk or formula, red flecks are also sometimes seen. These are also normal and can be caused by baby straining while trying to poop or by a tiny cut on Mom's nipple that caused baby to swallow a bit of blood.
But food alone is only one reason for seeing orange colored stool in babies. The diet of breastfeeding moms plays a role as well. If the mother consumes a diet rich in orange foods such as sweet potatoes, or even foods containing orange food dyes, this could also cause bright orange baby poop.
Any medications or supplements Mom takes while breastfeeding can impact color as well. For example, antibiotics may also be to blame for that orange color. Mostly though, antibiotic use can have a negative impact on a baby's gut flora, causing diarrhea more often than a color change.
Orange versus other colors: when to be concerned
While orange poop is mostly nothing to worry about, it is important to recognize when it, or another color, might be a cause for concern. When stool is eliminated from the body, it is exposed to bile. If stool is orange-colored, this may indicate that it is either not being sufficiently exposed to bile or not absorbing it properly.
If orange stool is not absorbing bile, this may be from digestive conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or diarrhea. If, on the other hand, orange stool is from a lack of bile, that could be caused by a blockage, which in turn could be caused by gallstones or cysts. If orange stool in babies is accompanied by other symptoms such as constipation, diarrhea, or weakness, it's important to talk to your pediatrician.
While orange stool is considered normal, white or grey poop may signal liver or gallbladder problems, and this is s case when you should check with the pediatrician.
Because baby poop is a universal concern for nearly all parents, it's important to know what is normal and what isn't. While poop can say a lot about your baby's overall health, armed with the knowledge that a color like orange is not a reason to be concerned, you can focus more on the things you really care about (like those precious baby snuggles).