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13 tips for cleaning baby poop

Changing diapers is one thing, but cleaning baby poop that escapes the diaper is another kind of mess altogether. Read on for the dos and don'ts of doo-doo cleanup.

By Today's Parent
13 tips for cleaning baby poop

Photo: iStockphoto

1. DO Peek down the back of the diaper to assess the situation before going in.

2. DO Have a change pad laid out, with a clean diaper and wipes at the ready.

3. DON’T Frantically wipe in all directions—go front to back, especially for girls, and be sure to get into all cracks and crevices.

4. DON’T Freak out if you get a bit of poo on the change mat—just fold over the corner and carry on.

5. DO Wash your change pad cover or mat often.

6. DO Always travel with spare baby outfits (and an extra shirt for you!) and zip-top bags for sealing up wet, stinky messes.

7. DON’T Let stained clothes dry. Wash out fresh poo stains by hand with cold water (hot water sets the stain), then spot-treat and throw them in the washing machine on warm.

8. DON’T Throw stained clothes into the dryer without first making sure the stain is gone (a tumble in the dryer will set the stain). If you can’t spot the stain when it’s wet, hang to dry. If the stain remains, wash again and hang to dry.

9. DO Launder poopy clothes separately.

10. DO Use the power of sunshine—a little time spent on a clothesline has been known to get out the most stubborn mustard-poo stains.

11. DON’T Rip up your rug if your baby poops on it. Instead, try this: First, remove any large chunks of poo from the carpet with a spoon, being careful not to push poop deeper into rug fibres. To clean, make a solution of liquid dish soap, a splash of white vinegar (for odour) and warm water, and sponge it onto carpet. Using an old rag, blot (don’t rub) at the wet carpet until the liquid is absorbed. Repeat the sponge-blot process until the stain is out.

12. DO Wash your hands well after every diaper change. Once your baby is aware of his diaper changes, wash his hands too—it’s a good habit to get into.

13. DO Throw your baby in the tub if you’re lucky enough to be home during a serious explosion.

Is green poop normal? Here's a guide to your baby's poop colour.

Mustard yellow

Why: Mustard yellow is a very standard colour for breastfed babies. The "seed" texture is from partially digested fat and calcium (entirely common). What to do: Keep doing what you're doing!

13 tips for cleaning baby poop Illustration by Dave Quiggle

Yellow-brown

Why: Formula-fed babies commonly have pasty yellow-brown poos. "Seed" texture is common here, too. What to do: Keep doing what you're doing!

13 tips for cleaning baby poop Illustration by Dave Quiggle

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Black

Why: Sticky, tar-like newborn poops are meconium. Though alarming, black stool could also be dried or digested blood from mom's cracked nipples. What to do: Meconium will pass. For new breastfeeders, heal your nipples (check your latch, use your own milk to soothe and give the ladies plenty of air time). If you're concerned, your doctor can perform a quick test to see who the dried blood belongs to.

13 tips for cleaning baby poop Illustration by Dave Quiggle

White

Why: Poo gets its colour from bile, so an absence of colour—chalky white poo—means there isn't enough bile. This may signal a problem with the liver or gallbladder. What to do: If it's a one-off, don't worry. But if it's more than one bowel movement in a row, chalky poo should send you to the doctor.

13 tips for cleaning baby poop Illustration by Dave Quiggle

Red

Why: Unless your baby has been gorging on beets, the red in your baby's poo may be blood. Red specks or streaks may be a sign of a reaction or allergy, which affects both breastfed and formula-fed babies. It may also indicate an intestinal problem. If your baby is constipated–passing hard, pellet-like stools–blood could be coming from small anal tears. What to do: See your doctor if you've ruled out constipation as a source of blood in your baby's stool.

13 tips for cleaning baby poop Illustration by Dave Quiggle

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Green

Why: A very common colour, green means stool is passing through the gut more quickly than usual. What to do: If your baby is feeding well and happy, and shows no signs of discomfort, don't sweat the green stuff.

13 tips for cleaning baby poop Illustration by Dave Quiggle

A version of this article appeared in our January 2016 issue, titled “You vs. Poo", pp. 51-56.

This article was originally published on Feb 26, 2016

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