Bathtime is a great way to bond with your baby and it can even act as a distraction from toddler tantrums. But it isn’t always smooth sailing, especially when they become so distracted and your baby poops in the bath! No need to panic though, it’s easy to deal with and it doesn’t cause your child any harm (as long as it’s cleaned up quickly.)
By the end of this guide, you’ll be an expert in all things “Baby Bath Poop” and you’ll be able to handle any situation that involves floaters in your little one’s bathwater.
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Why does a Baby Poop in the Bath?
A warm bubble bath is the answer to every problem and adults will often go for a soak in the tub to relax. If you’ve had a stressful day, all it takes is 10 minutes under the suds to feel your muscles relax and the tension that’s built up melts away.
This is basically what happens to a baby when you put them in warm water. But the relaxing effect isn’t limited to their external muscles. It goes much deeper.
Warm water is actually a recommended treatment for constipation in babies. Their internal muscles will relax, including the intestines and bowel. This is why babies will often let loose in the bath tub. It’s just an unfortunate side effect of bathtime.
Another reason why a baby poops in the bath is that they haven’t mastered the art of controlling their bodily functions. As they get older and enter the toddler stage, they become aware of the feeling of needing to go. However, if your child is under one, it’s unlikely that they can tell you that they need to poop.
It’s also a lot to do with timing. Baby spit up is easily cleaned up with a bath. But what causes the vomit? Milk. Babies have a reflex called the “gastrocolic reflex” and this gives your baby the urge to release a bowel movement shortly after eating to make room for the new food.
Will Poop in the Bath Hurt my Baby?
The short answer is no, as long as it’s dealt with quickly and efficiently.
Poop is gross, there’s no easy way to put it. If a large amount of poop bacteria was to be ingested, it can cause diarrhoea, as well as pink eye if it’s rubbed on the face.
But while it’s not sterile and filled with nasty germs and bacteria, the small amount that makes it into the bath water are unlikely to cause any harm. Even if your adorable newborn gets some poop water in their mouth (*heave*), it won’t make them ill.
While poop water won’t make your child physically ill, the way you react to the bath poop can make your child emotionally distressed and give them a fear of the bath. It’s important to remember that you’re not the first parent who has to deal with a bath poop and you won’t be the last. While sleep deprivation can make us more prone to outbursts of frustration, try to stay calm.
If you act negatively towards an accident, because that’s all it is, your child will associate feelings of upset or even guilt with bathtime. This can result in a fear of bathtime and it can cause you more problems.
Tips to Avoid Baby Poops in the Bath
Can this bathtime blunder be prevented? Not exactly but there are steps you can take to minimise the risk of it happening.
- Move Bathtime. Baths tend to be part of the evening routine for a lot of parents. But if you find that you’re feeding your baby before you put them in the bath, it’s probably better that you switch the two around. Giving your baby a bath before their bedtime feed will make them calmer and could help them settle a lot easier.
- Look for Signs. Even though babies can’t communicate verbally that they need to poop, there are some signs. Have a feel of their tummy before you bath them, if it’s firm then they probably need to go soon. When your baby is in the water, keep an eye out for pushing or bearing down…and when you see those bubbles, it’s time to abort and pull the plug.
- Remember it’s a phase. Ok, this one isn’t necessarily a tip to avoid the poop but it’s a tip to help you as a parent. Parenthood is filled with phases that our children go through and it feels like each one is designed to test us. Your child won’t be pooping in the bath forever so until it passes, keep a net nearby and practice your calm voice (even if you’re screaming internally!)
The 5 Steps of Operation Poop Clean-Up
Even if you’ve followed the tips above, it’s likely your baby poops in the bath at some point. While it’s unlikely to be harmful, it’s unhygienic to leave your baby in poop water. So, here’s a five step guide on what to do if baby poops in the bath and how to clean up after a bath floater.
- Stay Calm. As I’ve said several times in this article, it’s vital that you stay calm when dealing with a bath poop. Any negativity, whether that’s your tone of voice or your demeanour, your baby will pick up on it and start to associate those feelings with bathtime. You won’t have to deal with a bath poop again but that’s because your child will be terrified of the tub.
- Remove Baby from the Bath. This is the trickiest step because now you have the issue of where to put baby when you’re cleaning up the tub. Wrap them in a fluffy towel to keep them warm and place them in a bouncy chair, if you’ve remembered to bring it into the bathroom, or simply lay them on the floor. No harm will come to them.
- Remove Poop from the Bath. One of the handiest tools you can have as a parent who’s bathing their baby is a net or sieve. These are perfect for removing the stool from the water without needing to use your bare hands. Tip the poop into the toilet and then clean the scooping implement with the rest of the tub. Pull the plug and let the water, and any poop remnants, drain away.
- Clean Your Baby. Before you disinfect the tub, you need to make sure your baby is clean. Depending on the age of your baby, a sink bath is ideal as you can sponge them down without any hassle. But if your baby is older, take a shower head attachment and hose them down the best you can without them touching the tub. A good tip for this is to put some of their body wash on a clean, wet flannel before you start. This can be used to wash your baby one-handed.
- Clean the Tub, Toys and Other Objects. When your baby is clean, dry and settled, it’s time to tackle the tub. Rinse away any suds or poop particles and then use a disinfectant to thoroughly clean the tub. Next, rinse any bath toys, bath mats, thermometers, and other objects before cleaning with a baby-safe disinfectant before leaving them to dry.
Frequently Asked Questions
What if my Baby Pees in the Bathtub?
If your baby pees in the tub, this isn’t anything to worry about. Pee is sterile and while it does contain some bacteria, it’s not necessary to get your baby out unless you want to.
Is it Normal for Babies to Poop in the Bath?
Yes, it’s normal when a baby poops in the bath. It’s a phase that all children go through until they learn how to control their bowels and communicate their toileting needs.
Why Does my Child Keep Pooping in the Bath?
It’s simply caused by your child not having control of their bowels and the warm water making their intestinal system relax. If you avoid baths after a feeding, you may find that it doesn’t happen as often.
While this is an annoying phase for you to go through, rest assured that it’s normal and no harm will come to your baby after they poop in their bath water. It’s not the end of the world, so remember to stay calm, buy a net and have plenty of disinfectant nearby in your bath storage to deal with any floaters!