What to Do if Your Baby Does a Poop in Bathtub

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Poop in bathtub is a common parenting issue. But what should you actually do when your baby poops in the bath? A (not crappy) guide to dealing.

Don’t get me wrong – bathing a little one is a lot of fun.

Once you get over the initial fear around how to bath a baby, it’s a wonderful, splashy experience that not only keeps your child clean and fresh, but also lets them play, relax and unwind after a long day of napping, cooing and drinking milk.

But what happens when a “brown shark” arrives in the waters…?! Oh crap!

I recall an incident with my little one when she was only a few month old. While we usually bathed her in her own infant tub, sometimes we’d bathe her in our big tub, and I’d climb in with her to support her and keep her safe. Unfortunately, it was during one of those baths (when I was in the water), that she released a brown floaty poo lump for the first (and thankfully only) time.

While unpleasant, babies pooping in the bath isn’t uncommon. In fact, a warm soak is often suggested by healthcare practitioners to help alleviate infant constipation.

So, what do you do if your kiddo poops in the bath?

After learning through experience, I know have an easy-to-follow, 5 step plan to clean up, disinfect, and have things back to normal in no time.

newborn having bath at home in tub in kitchen sink. Guide to what to do about poop in bathtub

A Quick Note About Poo vs Pee in the Bath

While I have you here, we might as well also talk about peeing, too.

My hot take is that a little pee doesn’t hurt.

Urine is actually quite sterile and bacteria free. I know this because I once attended a yoga retreat in India that encouraged us to drink our morning urine. #notjoking

Pee in the bathtub is also diluted with so much water, I don’t really see it being much of a problem for a healthy infant who isn’t on any medications.

Poop, on the other hand, can cause more serious health issues for your child.

Fecal matter contains pathogens that can cause vomiting, diarrhea, eye infections like pink-eye, and more.

Certainly, babies poo in the bath is unpleasant for everyone. But for little ones, it can also cause more serious conditions, which is why you need to deal with it promptly and properly.

How to Clean Infant Poop from the Bathtub

1. Stay Calm

Easier said than done, but if you find yourself with a poo in the bathtub, remain calm.

Remember it’s not your child’s fault, and don’t make a big deal out of it in front of your child. Babies don’t have any control over their pooping habits, and the cozy water gives them a relaxing place to ‘let go’ with a bowel movement.

Getting worked up over an accidental poop might give your little one a negative association with bath times, which is the last thing you want.

Even with potty trained toddlers, keep calm and offer a big smile. Reassure them it’s okay and get them out and happy before dealing with the tub.

2. Take Your Child Out of the Bathtub

Poo in the bath isn’t really a “wait and see” situation. As soon as you notice it, remove your child as quickly as possible.

If you’re on bath duty alone, get your kiddo out of the tub. Ensure they’re safe, warm, and appropriately supervised for their age before starting clean up.

If you have more than one bath tub, or a suitably sized sink, wrap them up in a fluffy towel and transfer them to a new location. Continue bathing as usual, making sure you clean their hands and skin well, and deal with the infected bathroom a bit later.

If they’re old enough, you can also soap them up and hose them down in the shower.

If this is too much hassle, you can always finish off with a sponge bath or wipes.

3. Remove as Much Fecal Matter as You Can

Time to go fishing! Use a cup to catch the poop and dispose as much as possible in the toilet.

Once all of the lumps are caught, drain the rest of the water away through the tub.

Remember, the plumbing system in your tub isn’t designed for poops. Try to remove all solid poop before you open the drain, or you may find yourself needing a plumber.

3. Clean it

After the tub has drained, you need to scrub the inside of the tub thoroughly to get rid of leftover fecal matter, visible or not.

I prefer a non-toxic approach to cleaning, especially on areas where my kid touches. However, for the hopefully rare occasion that you’re cleaning poop, I think it’s worth using a gentle store-bought cleaner, such as castile soap or Bon Ami powder, rather than bleach, and giving it a thorough rinse after. Try to do this as soon as possible post-incident as possible.

You can also try white vinegar, which is a natural antiseptic.

Make sure you scrub the whole bath, including the sides and crevices near the drain.

4. Re-Bathe your Child

If you need to, or were not far enough into the bath to give your child a final rinse, at this point you could re-run the faucet and try bath time again.

You might feel a bit ‘pooped’ at this point… (pun definitely intended) so no-one will blame you for having a shorter, no toy bath this time before snuggling your kiddo into a towel and getting them ready for bed.

Newborn girl in the bathtub held by her mother

5. Clean Everything!

Yes, you want to scrub the tub if it was pooped in. But you may need to also disinfect the bathroom.

If poop consistency was less than solid, or different from your tot’s “normal” poo, it may be a sign of a bacterial infection.

Runny poop spreads through the water much more easily than solid, and and you’ll need to treat anything that may have been splashed as contaminated.

Do a post bath scrub of anything the water has been in contact with, including the tiles around the bath, the sides of the bath, the faucets and cover, etc. And rinse it too!

You also need to thoroughly wash the bath toys that were in use, too. Use paper towels to remove any obvious poop lumps, before cleaning them thoroughly and allowing to air dry, ideally out in the sun.

Pooping Habits

If you find this crappy routine starts to happen regularly in your house, consider rearranging bath time to accommodate your child’s toilet habits.

Babies intestinal systems work quite automatically, and the urge to poop is pretty strong just after they’ve eaten. If your little one poops in the bathtub after their evening feed, give them more time to digest (and poop in their diaper) before bathing.

Also keep an eye out for telltale signs a number two is on the way. These include a firm tummy, face reddening and grimacing.

If your potty trained toddler pees and poos in the bathtub, it’s a little different.

Check their potty set-up is easy for them to access. This includes potty training basics like easy to pull down pants, an accessible potty, and a step stool to reach the toilet. Encourage toddlers to try to ‘go’ before getting into the bath, too.

If your toddler is still frequently pooping in the bath, speak with them gently about their pooping concerns. Social stories, or story books to support pooping in the potty, can be helpful, too.

Final Thoughts About Babies Pooping in the Bath Tub 

Hopefully, this advice about how to deal with bathing and poos is clear and easy enough to follow.

If you know another parent who would benefit from hearing this advice, feel free to share this article with them too!

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