Adventures With Poop That All Parents Know About

Changing a diaper can be quite an adventure.
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Changing a baby’s nappy or diaper is never the same experience twice. It’s a part of parenting that throws up all kinds of surprises - not all of them ghastly. How many of the following have happened to you?


We’ve got a leak!: Ah, the telltale orange stain around the bottom of a baby vest that betokens a leaked nappy. Either they’ve dropped the motherlode, or they’re getting a bit big for their current diaper size. Whichever, the vest is probably ruined. Infant poop is a most persistent stain.

Can I play?: Perhaps the most annoying aspect of baby change is when junior wants to join in. This inevitably happens whenever baby has gifted you a particularly loose stool. The last thing you want is for her wandering hands to enter the danger zone. A baby with feculent fingers can cause all kinds of unpleasantness. Meanwhile, he’s likely to wriggle and squirm, and pull clothing back down towards his bottom. Think of it as a challenge of your skills, rather than a massive aggravation.

The just-got-out-the-door rumble: As we all know, getting out the house with small children can take a lot of time. Getting them dressed, cleaned and toileted is just half the battle; you also have to remember a military-grade inventory of equipment, from food and drink, to wet wipes, to a change of clothes and stuff to keep them entertained. When you finally do get out the door, the last thing you want to hear is the distinctive low rumble that tells you junior has done a whoopsie. Needless to say, it’s bound to happen at some point - and better to hear the signal as you’re leaving then when you’re a mile down the road.

I can poop a rainbow: About to become a parent for the first time? Don’t worry about nappy change. It’s not that hard, and nowhere near as unpleasant as you might imagine. In the early days, it can actually be delightful. As baby’s bowels enter service for the first time, they crank out a succession of ever-changing poop styles. The first, known as meconium, is the strangest - a thick, black tarry substance not unlike marmite. Then, after the milk kicks in, poos will move through various shades of green, brown and yellow. It’s all rather fascinating.

The scary red poop: One colour none of us want to see in our poops is red. Is it blood? Is something seriously wrong? I remember getting alarmed after my toddler did a sequence of red poops in her potty. My mind played through all the worst-case scenarios before I realised that she’d been gorging on red velvet cake the day before. The red food dye was the culprit. Beetroot is another food that might trigger a crimson stool. Of course, you should seek medical help if the red persists and you can’t account for the colour from anything your child’s ingested. 

The fountain of youth: Moms and dads in the front row… you will get wet. We all remember the first time we peeled back a nappy only to witness an arcing yellow surprise. It’s almost like they do it on purpose. Girls are bad enough, but if you’ve got a small boy then the jet could shoot anywhere. The first time it happens, you’re caught in a moment of indecision. Do you try to contain the stream in the half-removed diaper, or should you let things run their natural course and clear up afterwards? Either way, urine for a messy job.

The phantom poop: Eventually, junior will be old enough to let you know when their nappy needs changing. “I done a pooed, daddy,” to quote my youngest. Only, your child might not be the most reliable narrator. Young kids will often indicate that they’ve pooped when all they’ve really done is vent a little gas. Phantom poops are usually quite harmless, but can be very annoying if you’ve gone out of your way to find changing facilities, all for a false alarm. A variant of the phantom poop is the mysterious smell. We encounter this especially when our son comes back from daycare. Sometimes he’s accompanied by the unmistakable smell of poop despite having a clean nappy and seemingly poo-free clothes. Time for the tub.

Bath tub emergency: At first, you’re hit with confusion. “Where did all these new bath toys come from?”. Then the penny drops: baby has pooped in the tub. It is a yucky logistical challenge unlike any other. You need to get baby out of there quick and get him cleaned up. But how to do this with the bath tub out of action? Do you let her sit there naked and wet while you scoop out the poops and rinse down the bath? Or do you wrap him in a towel and risk getting it tainted? Those with separate showers have an alternative route, but then small children are often terrified of the noise. Happily for everyone, pooping in the bath is a relatively rare event. But when it does happen, it’s one of the most unpleasant jobs a parent has to tackle. Pro tip: keep an old sieve in the bathroom.

Pit stop: According to one philosophy, you’ve not experienced parenthood to the full until you’ve changed a nappy in the back of a car. It’s an essential skill to master if you’re on a long journey, or if you’re just out and about without easy access to baby change facilities. You have two choices: change the nappy on the back seat, or else in the boot/trunk. The first feels somehow more civilised, and is less likely to perturb your child. However, you’re taking a big chance that junior doesn’t let rip the moment you get their nappy off. This is less of an issue if you change in the boot/trunk of the car, away from where people might want to sit. However, that’s not really an option if you’re on a journey with a trunk full of cases, and it also feels a bit, well, wrong to lay an infant down in the boot. Parents who can change a nappy in the toilet of a moving train, meanwhile… well, you deserve some kind of medal.

Al fresco baby change: Have you ever changed a diaper in the park? It’s quite liberating in a way. You have as much space as you could possibly need, the very best ventilation, and there’s no need to worry about another parent knocking on the door because you’re taking too long. Plus, junior will probably feel nice and relaxed in the natural setting. On the downside, it’s not an option if it's cold or raining, and the whole experience does feel a little naughty. So long as you’re discrete and clear everything up, there’s no need to feel like you’re doing something wrong. 

See also

The best potties and travel potties

The 100 best poop jokes for kids

The best potty training books for toddlers


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