Monday, July 18, 2011

What to do when your baby poops in the tub

Sometimes I long for the simplicity of the infant bath tub.   It was just a small tub of water, possibly a hammock to support them, a washcloth to clean them with and maybe one unnecessary toy that they really didn't play with.  There were times when Hannah pooped in her infant tub.  No Big Deal.  You simply lift the baby out of the water, dump the poop water into the sink or tub, rinse, refill and you're good to go.

If you're freaking out about an infant pooping in the tub and have stumbled upon this post looking for assistance, just wait a few months.  Bath time poops get exponentially worse with age.

Hannah pooped while I was in the bathtub with her once.

okay it was twice.  Possibly three times.  ... I lost count.

I was trying to relax with my newborn and enjoy some skin to skin bonding.  She even nursed in the tub.  It was fabulous.  Until a brown worm went floating over my thigh.

My body went rigid.  I didn't understand what was happening.
Then I noticed another worm.
And another.
And then I realized it was poop.

Oh. My. God.

It was at that moment that I earned a mommy merit badge.

I grabbed my Sassy Soft Touch Rinse Cup (best $6 ever) and began scooping up the worms as I yelled frantically for Chris and tried not to upset Hannah.  He dumped the cupfuls of poop water into the toilet, and when all the big chunks were removed  we simply drained the water, rinsed the tub, refilled it so we could rinse off and we were good to go.

The REALLY tough situation is when your baby is older.
Say... 9 months 28 days and 14 hours old.
For the sake of conversation, let's just take Hannah for example.

She can sit independently in the tub, loves playing with lots of toys and enjoys bath time SO much, that it's possible to clean your bathroom counter, clean the mirror, reorganize makeup - you know, general tidying up while she splashes and plays.

Then you hear bubbles popping.  forcefully.  and you look over at her and she seems incredibly pleased with her gas explosion, but you don't see anything to be alarmed about.

And then a minute later, out of the corner of your eye, you see too many 'toys' floating around the tub.  You realize that she didn't fart like a 200 pound frat boy, but instead lost complete control of her bowels and chunks of poop are everywhere.

My first instinct - as would be yours - was to yell for assistance from another adult - husband, mother in law, random neighbor - anybody.

But I'm home alone.

Here's what you do:

Close the bathroom door.  
I know it seems crazy to lock yourself IN with the mess, but the last thing you want to be doing is be on your hands and knees bailing poop from a bathtub with a 9 month 28 day 14 hour old toddler in the making - that is covered in poo particles - running loose naked in your house.  Unless that's your idea of a fun Sunday evening.

Do a finger sweep of the mouth.
Babies put everything in their mouth.  Everything.  Enough said.


Lay a towel down on the floor, lift the baby out of the water and partially dry them off.  

Don't put a lot of effort into it because that child is going right back in the water in a few minutes and will receive a VERY good scrub down, but you don't want them getting cold.
... or dripping poop water all over your bath mats.

Quarantine all toys.
The sink is the best place to put all of the bath toys.  If any of them fill with water, squirt water or plain touched the water, they'll need to be disinfected at a later date.  For now, you have more pressing matters.

Grab your Sassy cup and start bailing.
If you haven't bought one yet I suggest you go to your laundry room and dig out six $1 bills or 24 quarters, 60 dimes, way too many nickels or 600 pennies from the 'loose change bowl' and buy yourself one.  You're also probably kicking your butt because now you're going to have to use a drinking glass to scoop the poop.    Just make sure it's an easily identifiable cup that you can pass off to company because the dishwasher will never get that cup clean enough for ME to want to drink out of again.

Curse.  a lot.
By the time your baby is nearly 10 months old they'll probably be eating 'real' food and their poop will have lost its breastfed baby poop liquid-ness that caused it to float like worms in the tub as an infant.
As gross as those worms were, they are wicked easy to scoop up.
Older baby poop disintegrates in the water literally turning into poo particles that attach to everything.
If you're unlucky enough to have a drain trap with tiny holes so you don't lose important thing - like I do - then you'll really be cursing.  Most of the chunks will be too big to go down the drain yet too small to scoop with the cup.  Screwed.
Drain the water anyway, occasionally turning on the faucet to fill your cup and pour the water at the top of the tub so that it runs down towards the drain, catching poop as it goes.

Remember that you love your baby.
Keep draining, scooping, pouring and cursing until you have it all cleaned up.
If you have a non slip mat suctioned-cupped to the bottom of your tub - like I do - realize that you need to rip that up and rinse underneath.  Otherwise poop will be trapped underneath there and once you fill up the tub with clean water it'll quickly become contaminated with the hiding flecks of fecal matter.

Refill the tub.
Nice warm water, lots of soap and some old fashioned elbow grease should have your baby spick and span in no time.  Wash the hair, behind the ears and the in the arm pits - poo particles are sneaky little suckers.

Loudly exclaim 'All Done!'
Wrap up bath time however you normally do so, dry them off with a clean towel - don't even think of using that one that you laid out on the floor earlier - and exit the bathroom.

Curse again as you walk by the sink full of toys that you forgot you still needed to clean.
I wash them in the kitchen sink.  I squeeze all the water out first, then I do a really hot water soak with a splash of Bac Out.  A quick cold water rinse and they're all set for the next bath.

Congratulate yourself for managing the minor emergency with the grace of a domestic goddess.  I'm really proud of you and, ya know, after all that work you deserve a cool beverage.

I made some lemonade this morning and I have just the glass for you.

You're welcome.


  1. Cutest post ever! I only wish it weren't a true story :o)

    I'm dreading the day we get poop in the bath... Two kids and no poop yet, although my son has stood up and let loose all over the bath tub walls once before. Gross.

  2. Jen InformationmommyJuly 18, 2011 at 8:05 AM

    You crack me up Carla !!! This has actually NEVER happened to us... I know craziness right !! BUT !! I know feel prepared to tackle this challenge shall it ever arrise !

  3. Teehee. Poo particles. My new favorite term. Though we haven't experienced this at all yet. Maybe I should print this post and tape it to the inside of her bathroom cabinet door for emergency situations.


  5. Now I know what to do! :D thanks!

  6. That is the funniest thing i've read in such a long time!! No, i'm not a mommy yet, but I am a nanny and just two weeks ago I found myself in this predicament with the almost two year old little girl that I was watching! Now I know an even better way to deal with it! I started by taking Jill out and putting her in her bumbo (a lifesaver) and gave her "woosy" (woody) and "buss" (buzz) and then cleaned the tub! I scrubbed the tub with soft scrub and then cleaned the toys with clorox and then sterilized them! An hour bath turned into a two and a half hour production! Don't you love kids??

  7. That's so funny! Ethan has never pooped in the tub but now I know what to do if he does!

  8. You made me laugh so hard I cried...Thanks I needed it....

  9. aww Poor Carla. I'm sorry :( I haven't experienced it yet but I will going to buy a sassy cup soon haha

  10. That has to be the BEST blog post I have EVER read! You are such an eloquent writer!

  11. Carla, I wish I would have had this when i went threw this with my 2 children!! this is FABULOUS!!

  12. You crack me up. My 17 month old has never pooped in the tub and I fear for the day she does.

  13. My Lil Man is 5 months old and pooped in the sink style bather with Daddy earlier this week....that was fun! I do NOT look forward to this....but this blog definitely made me laugh.

  14. cheese cloth might help with the tiny pieces then just toss

  15. I could not stop giggling at this! I just had my 10 month old poo in his bath for the first time, I was in a state of shock and bewilderment... he was happy as larry and didn't care, and I was looking at the bath wondering why bit of browny stuff suddenly appeared, dipping in and out of the bubbles he was frolicking in.... needless to say we had a giggle and I promptly got him out of the bath (he was already washed thank goodness, he was just playing around)...

  16. I just had a stressful day with a crying baby but this cracked me up! My 7-week-old did it in his tub today and I scrambled to find a towel to wrap him up while I changed the water. Need to be more organised and prepared for all future baths!

  17. Omg! SO funny!! This totally happened to me this morning! Only my 10 month old twins were in the tub together when my daughter decided to poop. I knew it would happen one day but I really hoped we'd be able to avoid it all together. Having 2 babies in the poop water adds a whole other layer of panic.

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  21. My son is four weeks old today and he lives his baths. usually my husband and I do baths together because his head needs to constantly be held, our he'll drink the water. My husband works nights, so I was on my own. My son pooped tonight for the first time in the tub. Decided to find a good laugh about moms with similar problems and could not stop cracking up at this. Thanks for sharing!

  22. My almost three year old poops so regularly in the tub, that a long bath is our go-to cure for constipation. :/

  23. haha love it!! Thanks so much for this list, although I do have to note that I got to 8 & we were both very happy & next thing I know....I have to start all over!! ... I am thinking a shower now.

  24. Best article ever. Seriously, this needs a prize! Exactly what I went through today.

  25. I'm a stepmom to 3 young kids, one of which has down syndrome and is now 6 years old. who still does this about once a month. His 5 year old brother has been his bath mate since we met, and knows the protocol! Get the H out, and yell for a parent! Thankfully my 17 month old has never done this, but he still bathes in my kitchen sink, so it'd be pretty easy to just plop him in the other sink and drain and scrub the other side. But I hope I never need to. ^_^

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