Cloth diapering is a wonderful way to save your family money while keeping thousands of disposable diapers out of the landfill. But, what do you do with the poop!?!?
Poop was my husband’s number 2 concern (tehehe) when it came to cloth diapering. The number 1 concern was the overall smell. “What do you do with it?” he would ask me. While I was pregnant I could only cite information from the internet. “Well, we can buy a sprayer and spray it in the toilet.” I told him. I showed him the sprayers online and he decided that was a good enough answer. The catch: he was having nothing to do with it. Now that we are pros at cloth diapering I am going to outline some of the best ways to deal with the presents your precious baby leaves you.
Stage 1. This stage, when your baby is fresh out of the oven, is a tricky one. Meconium, the sticky tar poop that will be your baby’s first bowel movements, and can stain your diapers. Most parents are not using cloth for the first few days during this phase since they are at the hospital. In fact, you may never even see it since the nurses do many of the changes. If you are going to bring cloth diapers with you to the hospital or you are having a home birth and will use your own cloth diapers from the start, here is what you should do for meconium. You can opt to use a diaper liner in preparation. I personally would not do this since even the softest diaper liners are not soft enough for a newborn baby. My suggestion is to use toilet paper, or a sprayer if you have one already, to remove as much as the meconium as possible. You also want to do this as soon as you can to prevent staining. Wash your diaper as normal. If there is a stain, sun it out. If the stain is persistent, try applying lemon juice to it and sun it again. Don’t fret, meconium may only happen once or a few times.
Stage 2. Exclusively Breastfed Babies: Babies who only have breastmilk will have sweet smelling and completely water soluble poop. You heard me! Now, when I say the poop smells sweet, it isn’t a pleasant odor, but it isn’t entirely unpleasant. In fact, it can be hard to tell if your baby has pooped sometimes since cloth diapers and EBF poop don’t have much of an odor. This stage is great because it gives you a break. Diapers which have been soiled with EBF poop can be chucked into the diaper pail or wet bag with no rinsing or scraping. This poop can look mustard yellow, orange, or even green and it will have a seedy texture. The colors will vary and will change over time, even when still being EBF. This stage has its challenges though. EBF poop is notorious for having “blow-outs”. The good news, cloth diapers can almost always contain them. I remember reading that cloth diapers contained the mess. Friends used to tell me horror stories abut their babies waking up with poop all the way up to their necks. We had one blow out with cloth, which was minor. EBF poop will also rarely stain. Once again, use the sun or wait a few washes and the stains will most likely be gone. My favorite part about EBF poop, some babies who are breastfed only poop every few days to once a week, or even fewer. My son only pooped every 4-6 days. The reason is that with breastmilk, it is so chocked full of useable goodness that they baby uses most of it, with very little left to spare. For Formula Fed babies you can also just wash the diapers, but the color will most likely be different than EBF babies. The poop will also have more of a nasty smell to it. Most FF babies will also probably poop once a day or more.
Stage 3. This is where it gets sticky, and maybe even a little hairy! Literally! Your baby will be starting solids somewhere between 4-8 months. Say goodbye to the simplicity of tossing your diapers in the pail! You can also forget about going a week without poop. Your baby is going to have sticky, peanut butter like poop. You may even find large chuncks of food that weren’t digested well. These all need to be sprayed off or scraped off before being put into the washer. I think of it this way: by getting the bulk of the poop out before you wash your diapers you are giving them the cleanest start. If they are coated in poop you are a few steps behind and your washer has to work harder, and you will need more steps to get them clean. Now, I haven’t tried this myself, but I have heard that spatulas work great for this stage to scrape that peanut buttery poop off of the diaper. You just want to use a lot of caution when washing your dishes not to mix up the poop spatula and the regular one. Spraying is the way to go in this instance. Flushable liners are nice for going out and can save you having to take a mess filled diaper home or dunking your diaper in a public toilet.
Stage 4. Once your baby is eating more and more solids their poop may begin to thicken up. It will be more than peanut buttery but less than solid. This poop is prime for “shaking.” You can shake it into the toilet and flush it. You may also just want to spray it off, or spray after you shake it for an even cleaner diaper. This is a flux stage so it is going to vary for every baby.
Stage 5. Disgusting, toddler, solidish poop. Every toddler is different and they are going to be eating a variety of different foods. You can expect pretty solid poop, but I have heard some moms say that their toddler never had completely solid stools. If your child is eating meats, expect some very stinky poop! This should also be shakeable poop. Shake what you can off into the toilet, and then either put it directly in the pail or spray it off. If there are stains, which is very likely, sun them!
Even at 18 months old my son doesn’t have solid poops all the time. Depending on what he eats, we get wet to semi solid to completely solid. The diaper sprayer truly is your best friend in most all of the stages!