What goes in must come out. And it keeps coming out. The job of butt-wiper, diaper-wrangler, and potty-cajoler is a long and storied one, and it’s all yours. Accept this role and you can (almost) enjoy it—plus you’ll be able to entertain friends with poop-related stories for years. Here are some smart ways to get a better handle on the stuff you’d rather not handle.
Put multiple covers on the changing pad.
Dirty changing pad covers are inevitable. Plan ahead and layer them. When one cover gets dirty, peel it off to reveal a new, clean pad underneath.
Try this trick for tightening too-large disposable diapers.
No one tells you that babies can outgrow one disposable diaper size before fitting into the next. To tighten the waist and close the gap at the legs, angle the tabs down rather than straight across.
Repair broken diaper tabs with adhesive bandages.
The fasteners on disposable diapers are pretty reliable, but a single malfunction is all it takes to ruin a day. An adhesive bandage is sticky and strong enough for the job, at least until you get home. Another option: painter’s tape
Use a maxi pad as a disposable diaper extender.
There will be long, wet nights when a disposable diaper requires some backup. The fact is, your kid will eventually out-pee a technologically advanced moisture-absorption device. For those times, call in the big guns: feminine protection. An extra-long maxi pad provides the reinforcement a diaper needs to make it through till morning.
After a diaper blowout, take the onesie off top to bottom.
A diaper blowout is a leak so spectacularly messy it requires a head-to-toe cleanup. You may know this already. If a blowout occurs while your baby is wearing a onesie, stretch open the neckline, peel it down over your baby’s shoulders, and then off at the feet— way more pleasant for everyone involved.
Use a lint roller to remove debris from the bottom of the diaper bag.
For the next couple of years, you’ll live out of your diaper bag. What starts as a neatly organized tote inevitably morphs into a catch-all for crumbly snacks, forgotten bottles, dirty clothes, and random toys. Between washings, swipe the inside of the bag with a lint roller to catch crumbs, fluff, and other flotsam.
Reuse a peri bottle as a diaper sprayer.
Rather than install a toilet sprayer, use a postpartum peri bottle (or any plastic squeeze bottle) to spray excess poop out of cloth diapers.
Snap onesie flaps over the shoulder during potty visits.
If your potty-training toddler wears a shirt that snaps at the crotch, pull the front and back of the shirt up and snap the flaps closed over his shoulder.
11 smart items to keep in the diaper bag
As you’ve probably discovered, to be truly useful, your diaper bag needs to hold a lot more than diapering supplies. Think of it as your survival pack. When properly stocked, it can save the day. Beyond the basics, here are a few handy items you may not have thought to stash in your diaper bag.
1 Plastic over-the-door hook. Hang it on chair backs and restaurant changing tables to keep the diaper bag off dirty floors.
2 Dog poop bag dispenser and bags. A convenient way to contain stinky messes. Clip the dispenser to the diaper bag.
3 Glad Press’n Seal. I rarely recommend products by brand name, but Glad Press’n Seal plastic wrap is unique. It sticks to itself and other surfaces with amazing efficiency. If you’re out of bags, use it to seal dirty diapers and clothes in a leakproof pouch. You can also use it as a travel place mat, a bib, or a clean surface for putting something down. (See here .)
4 Painter’s tape. Use painter’s tape to quickly babyproof and secure sliding drawers, seal toilet seats, or cover electrical outlets. (See here .)
5 Swim diaper (in warm weather). Outdoor fountains, sprinklers, a friend’s kiddie pool. . . . When unexpected opportunities for water play happen, you’ll be glad you’ve got a swim diaper on hand.
6 An extra shirt for YOU. After a spectacular blowout, your baby’s probably not the only one who needs changing.
7 Headband or ponytail holders. For keeping long hair out of your face when you’re changing your kid on the floor.
8 Laundry pretreating stick. Several brands of stain pretreatment come in pen or stick form. Toss one in your diaper bag to pretreat stains soon after they happen.
9 A bottle of water and a grown-up snack. You’ve probably got the kid’s food and drink needs covered, but you need to keep yourself topped up and hydrated as well.
10 Sticky notes. Temporarily disable the autoflush sensor in public restrooms by covering it with a sticky note (see here ).
11 Cash. Having a few bucks stashed in the diaper bag will get you out of a surprising number of jams. Think: small snack purchases, parking meters, neighborhood bake sales, and so on.
Scrape poop out of diapers with a spatula.
Most diapering how-tos include the deceptively straightforward direction to “flush solids” before tossing soiled diapers into the wash or the trash. But baby poop doesn’t just roll out of the diaper; it often needs more . . . coaxing . Use a cheap plastic spatula to scrape diapers. Clearly label the spatula POOP (so it doesn’t end up flipping anyone’s hamburgers), and hang it on the side of the toilet with a removable self-adhesive hook. When you’re done with scraping, flush the toilet, swish the spatula in the clean water (if necessary, clean it with a flushable wipe), then flush again.
Puppy training pads protect the car seat from diaper blowouts.
Diaper blowouts are never pleasant, but when they happen while your baby’s strapped into a car seat, you’re in for a new level of ewwwww. . . . Keep messes contained by lining the car seat with a puppy training pad—a thin, disposable, waterproof pad pet owners use while house-training their dogs—before clipping your baby in. Puppy pads are cheaper than disposable changing pads, and they do the job just as well.
Use a rubber band to remind you to restock the diaper bag with a clean outfit.
Murphy’s Law of Diaper Bags states that the day you forget to pack a change of baby clothes is the same day your kid spews an unspeakable amount of . . . whatever. The next time you’re packing the bag, roll up a spare outfit, secure it with a rubber band, and stow it. When you use the spare outfit, slide the rubber band onto your wrist to remind you to restock the bag when you get home.
A panty liner turns regular underpants into training pants.
Disposable training pants can prolong potty training because they feel so much like diapers. Cotton training underpants are more effective, but they’re also expensive when you consider how many pairs you need to keep on hand. You might be able to skip the training pants by sticking a panty liner into regular children’s underpants. While not leakproof (no training pants are), the panty liner protects clothing and furniture from small accidents, and your kid feels the wetness immediately, so learning happens fast.
Line the training potty with toilet paper to simplify cleanup.
Most training potties come with a removable bowl to facilitate dumping and flushing of the contents. Easy with pee, trickier (that is, stickier) with poop. Line the bowl with toilet paper to make cleanup a cinch. After your kid goes, tip everything into the toilet, give the potty bowl a quick cleaning with a flushable wipe, then flush everything away.
Flatten the toilet paper roll to slow its rotation.
Potty training involves more than just learning to use the toilet. Kids also must learn to use toilet paper: how much to tear from the roll, the proper scrunching technique, and the mechanics of wiping. Toddlers don’t have the manual dexterity to control the spin of the toilet paper roll, so a lot of it ends up on the floor in a messy heap. Before you put the toilet roll onto the holder, squash the roll flat. The uneven skipping will slow the spin.
Trick the public restroom autoflush sensor by covering it with toilet paper.
Something about the automatic-flush toilet intimidates novice potty-users. Perhaps it’s the loud, unpredictable vortex of doom swirling beneath their exposed bottoms? Drape the autoflush sensor with toilet paper (or cover it with a sticky note or painter’s tape) to trick it into silence while your kids do their business. Once they’re finished, wiped, and on their way out of the stall, remove the paper and let the autoflush finish its job.
Use O-shaped cereal as a potty training target.
Little boys who’ve graduated to a regular toilet need practice perfecting their aim. Give him something to shoot for: a Cheerio (or similar cereal) tossed into the toilet bowl.