Conversations about poo: Rules for dealing with your babies nappies in your house


Before my son was born I had never changed a nappy. I knew it was a fundamental part of looking after babies and just accepted that it would be something I learned along the way. I got some good practice in at our NCT (National Childbirth Trust) antenatal classes. They had me down on my knees practicing on a baby doll. There’s a picture – eight 30-something males in a room putting nappies on dolls with their pregnant partners on a Sunday! They also taught us all about reusable nappies that you can wash. I’ve dealt with enough poo to know that wouldn’t go down well in my house. The NCT classes were the only practice I had. Regardless of whether it was my nephew, a friends baby or any other relatives babies who stunk out a room I would pass them straight back to their owner (I mean parent). I still would now.

After my son was born, when we were still in the hospital, he needed a nappy change. I think the midwife wanted to see me do it so the pressure was on. Having just watched my son being born I was filled with pride so it was a piece of cake. With the midwife hovering over my shoulder I wiped him clean and fitted a new nappy with great success.

The first few poos are meconium. It’s a dark green sticky substance that’s very different to adult poo. Doesn’t smell so bad and I don’t remember it being too troublesome to deal with.

As my son was exclusively breastfed, I don’t think his poo was too smelly during the first few months while he was a baby. It was more the frequency with nappy changes that was the issue. He also had an issue with having his nappy changed generally. Like many newborn babies they don’t like being interfered with, although my son is nearly two years old and I still think he dislikes his playtime being interrupted for a nappy change. I think we went through about 10 nappies a day when he was a newborn. I do however remember dealing with a few ‘poo up the back’ scenarios. Not what you want on your turn to do a nappy change. It involved lots of wipes, a change of baby grow, a change of undervest and an overall all-round palava. But still at this point it was not an issue.

The problems started when solid foods were introduced. Then we started to get some stronger smells, it was really pungent, stung the nostrils. If you’re too slow to deal with it, the whole room stinks.  I have a few golden rules which prevent poo related disputes in my house.

Rule number 1 – if you have agreed it’s your turn to deal with a poo– deal with it straight away, or risk argument.

Rule number 2 – bulk buy baby wipes. There’s no need to scrimp on wipes when you’re mid-clean. If you’re trying to use only one wipe at a time and you get some on your hand – urrggh, it’s unpleasant.

Rule number 3 – bag the nappy and get it out the house straight away. I don’t wish to come out of the shower only to smell the stench of a babies poo.

Our babies poo really has changed the conversations I have with my wife.  Detecting poo early on has become an art form. Who detects it first can determine who deals with it. ‘Has he done one?’ is how the conversation usually starts. It could be followed up with a confident; ‘He’s done one!’ If it’s a real stinker and you’re sure. Or if you think he’s done one but are unsure; ‘I think he’s done one, can you check?’

The checking is real fun to watch. I’m still using the foolish method of lifting his bum to my face and inhaling deeply. Not a method I can recommend. Even funnier is chasing him across the room whilst trying to get a whiff of his rear end. My wife adopts the far more acceptable stretching the back of his nappy open and trying to get a view of the brown stuff. This method wasn’t so fun when she accidentally dipped her fingers in the brown stuff and freaked out.

After the poo is confirmed the next step is the negotiation. Who will take this one? Generally it’s best to alternate. However, even if you have been alternating, sometimes one can find oneself begging their partner to take this one for the team (by ‘one’ I mean me).

We’ve recently bought him a potty and taught him the word poo. He now thinks it’s acceptable to sniff my rear end!

As his speech develops we are hoping that he will be able to tell us when he needs a poo and then sit on the potty. I think it could be a messy transition. After all, I’ve witnessed him squat and take a poo on our carpeted landing once, just because his nappy was off. Quite frankly, I’m glad he did it there rather than in the bath. Only mywife has had to deal with the poo baths!