"What about the poop?!"
If you're new to the idea of cloth diapering, then you may be imagining a hellscape unlike any other, ravaged continually by swirling poop hurricanes and poop volcanos erupting without ceasing. Now, I can assure you: in parenting, you WILL encounter poop. But it will not be in the above scenario.
To help us answer this critical question, we've enlisted the help of one of our esteemed Kanga Care Guest Bloggers, Jill Iser of JBabyThoughts!
We used disposables for the first three months of our son's life, and guess what? He pooped. A lot. It often got all over me, most of the clothing he was wearing and anything within a one foot radius. When we switched to cloth, he still pooped--but the blowouts stopped.
Here's what you need to know about baby poop:
There are three stages that your baby will go through when it comes to poop. Things are getting real, huh? Just remember, the first time your brand new baby poops will be a moment of celebration--not disgust. It means that everything is working as it should! Let's get started!
Stage 1: 100% liquid diet
For the first six months or so, your baby will be on a strictly liquid diet and their poop will reflect that. If you're lucky enough to be able to breastfeed, then the good news is that breastfed poo is minimal in both odor and volume and it is even water soluble. Just throw dirty diapers it in the wash! Really. Breastfed poop is mustard in color and may cause light, temporary staining. Keep reading for a solution to that! Formula fed infant's poop may have a different odor and consistency than breastfed babies. But even so, washing their diapers is easy!
Stage 2: Transitioning to solids, aka, the "peanut butter phase"
When you first introduce pureed foods such as rice cereal, apples or bananas, which is what a lot of moms start with, it can dramatically change the consistency of your baby's poop. As your baby’s diet goes from liquids to solids, they may go through a stage where their poo has more of a “peanut butter” consistency. There are several ways to deal with this (hopefully brief) stage.
- You can simply use some toilet paper to grab as much gooey poo from the diaper as possible before it goes into the wash. This might sound gross, but by the time you're in this phase, you're so used to your baby's poop that it really doesn't seem like a big deal.
- You can buy a diaper sprayer that hooks up to the water shut off valve at the base of your toilet. Simply hold dirty diapers over the toilet and spray solids off the diaper into the toilet. The sprayer works like the one on the kitchen sink. Using a sprayer is completely optional and many find that they don't need one.
- You can try flushable or reusable liners. They catch solids and make clean up a breeze!
Stage 3: Solids
As your baby becomes a toddler and eats more and more solid foods, guess what else gets solid? The great news is, solid waste rolls right off the diaper and into the potty which means you're basically washing wet diapers.
But what about...
Poop in the washer?
Solid waste goes in the potty, so the amount of poop going into the washing machine is really pretty minimal. Before I started using cloth diapers, I had to wash plenty of poopy clothes anyway! Washing on a larger load size means there is plenty of water to get everything clean and an extra rinse at the end helps! Plus, the water from your washing machine goes to the same place the water from your toilet goes, so you know that it will be processed appropriately.
Who needs stain remover when you have sunshine? Here in sunny Southern California, the drying rack on our back patio is always the last step in washing. Any particularly soiled diapers make the top row and voila! stains are nearly or completely gone by the afternoon. Just be careful to not overdo it!
Some daycares are freaked out by cloth diapers and may even tell you that they are unsanitary. The truth is, there is literally NO difference (sanitation-wise) in poop wrapped in plastic in a trashcan than a soiled cloth diaper in a wetbag. And cloth diapers do not violate any kind of health code. No laws have been written to bar daycares from using cloth diapers. And more often than not, if you demonstrate how the diapers work, they will be more than willing to cooperate. Just make sure they know not to use diaper cream with your fluff!
The odor that you associate with dirty diapers isn't actually caused by the waste itself. It's caused by the reaction between the urine and the chemicals in disposable diapers. Baby poop really doesn't smell that strong and remember, you've dumped the majority of the waste into the toilet anyway. Using a diaper pail that allows fresh air to circulate (not airtight) will also allow the ammonia in the urine to evaporate and reduce odor significantly. If you find that you can smell the diapers, simply do a load of wash: problem solved! But most of the time, it shouldn't be a problem even for the most sensitive noses. Considering that disposables go into the trash, which only gets picked up once a week, families using disposables are definitely going to have more issues with odor. Many families throw dirty disposables in a trashcan outside because the smell is so offensive. You know who loves dirty disposables? All kinds of wild animals: raccoons, coyotes, stray dogs, etc. I've known more than a few people who had the job of cleaning up shredded, poopy disposables from all over the yard...in the rain.
My husband really hated stage two, but he recognizes that cloth diapering isn't much different than using disposables just as long as I do most of the laundry! If your partner is a skeptic, stay tuned. We have some tips coming up just for you!
Flush the poop with disposables, too!
If you're new to cloth diapering, then the step of flushing solid waste away may seem like an extra, unpleasant task. But many disposable brands offer the same suggestion, as seen on this package of Seventh Generation disposable diapers. The debate of whether or not landfills can adequately handle solid waste like that continues, but either way, flushing solid waste means there is less poop in your house, and I think we can all agree that that is a good thing.
Do you have a question about baby poop that we didn't answer?
This is a no-embarrassment zone, so if you've got some weird question that's been bugging you, just ask in our comments below!