A diaper explosion! Mom’s worst nightmare, particularly when out and about. We have a name for a diaper blowout in our house: poonami. And there’s a good reason for it. It looks like a tsunami full of poo just landed on your baby.
The back, the belly, the legs … ALL over the clothes!
But are diaper blowouts really that inevitable?! Not really. There’s a lot that you can do to try and prevent them, and lots of tips and hacks that you can follow to turn it into a bit less of a mess.
What is a Diaper Blowout?
A diaper or baby blowout is when the diaper fails to contain the poop, and this leaks out of the diaper.
It can leak out from the back, the legs, or up the front. Or, if you get a nice poop explosion of epic proportion, it will come out from everywhere!
How often do Diapers Blowouts happen?
Diaper blowouts are really common and totally normal, particularly in young babies whose diet is still liquid. And if you are breastfeeding they tend to be worse.
Don’t ask me why (I can’t even find an answer online), but we did notice a huge difference between my first daughter, who was formula fed, and my second daughter, who’s been breastfed. For some reason formula tends to make baby’s poops way firmer. Take a look at our guide to your baby’s poop color.
They also tend to happen more often if you are using disposable diapers compared to cloth diapers. In fact, cloth diapers have elastics at the back and around the legs (often at the front as well) that are more effective at containing solid waste. The same happens with disposable swim diapers, compared to reusable swim diapers.
And … they most often happen in the most undesirable places at the least desirable moments! Like when everyone is getting off the plane and the hostess is shouting at you from the other side of the toilet door that you need to get out NOW (yes, true story!).
Or when you are out with friends and poop ends up all other your top … and you didn’t bring any change for yourself. Or again, when they are sitting in the car seat and you end up having to wash the whole car seat.
I could give you more examples, but I am pretty sure you got the picture 🙂
What can you do?
So what can you do to stop all that poop from coming out?
Well, first of all, let me get something straight. Baby blowouts are a normal part of baby’s early life. Sooner or later you’ll have to deal with them.
Sometimes, there’s just nothing that you can do stop it from happening. When the big poonami hits … you just have to deal with it. And may the force be with you 🙂
However, there are ways to prevent them from happening ALL the time! They need to become the exception, not the norm.
And, for when they do happen, there are a lot of hacks that you can follow, that will help you deal with them as quickly as possible and without leaving any mess.
I have gathered all the information below for you. Go through it and I am sure you will become a diaper blowout master 🙂
How to Prevent Diaper Blowouts
First of all, how can you prevent a baby blowout from happening too often? Here’s some tips on how to stop the poop from exploding outside the diaper!
For tips and hacks on how to prevent diaper blowout when using swim diapers, read this article instead: How to Use Reusable Swim Diapers (the Ultimate Guide!).
1) Use the Right Size Diapers
The number one rule to reduce the number of poop explosions to a minimum is to use the right size diaper. In fact, if the poop is coming out, it’s usually a sign that you either have to change the diaper more often, or you need to go up a size.
You will notice that diapers usually come in overlapping sizes. For example, Pampers Size 1 go from 8 to 14 lbs, whereas Pampers Size 2 go from 12 to 18 lbs. If your child is on Size 1 and close to 12 lbs, and experiencing blowouts, it might be time to upgrade to Size 2.
But make sure not to compromise on best fit – if the diaper is too big, you’ll lose the snug fit and poop will still get out!
If you are using cloth diapers or reusable swim diapers, these usually come in different sizes or “one size fits all”. One-size cloth diapers have rows of snaps at the front that you can use to adjust the diapers to your baby’s size.
2) Change the Diaper More Often
Like I mentioned above, not changing the diaper often enough is also a possible cause of your baby experiencing diaper blowouts.
Obviously, the better the diaper absorbency, the more they will last and hold any solid waste in. But be aware that if the diaper is over saturated with pee, poo will very easily overflow on the outside.
I am not saying to change it on the dot every two hours (like they do at my kids’ daycare), but be aware of how wet your baby’s diapers get. And, if you are experiencing lots of blowout, try changing them a bit more often.
3) Not Too Tight, Not Too Loose
Make sure to achieve a proper diaper fit. This is also key to preventing poop from going everywhere.
- The tabs at the front should be fastened straight and give a snug fit.
- The back of the diaper should be even with the baby’s belly button at the front.
- You should be able to fit 1 finger between the diaper and your baby’s belly, legs and back.
If you notice the diaper is leaving red marks on your baby’s legs, chances are your diaper is too small and tight. Meaning there’s not enough space for your diaper to store any poop in there, and it will naturally come out!
On the other hand, if you can fit more than one finger between baby and the diaper, the diaper is too big and you need to either make it tighter, or downsize.
4) Leg Ruffles Pullet Out
Not pulling the diaper leg ruffles out is the main reason diapers leak out the leg. Have a look at this beautiful Instagram photo below 🙂
If you have a look at the inside of the diaper closely, you will notice that there is an elastic on the inside, and then the leg ruffle on the outside. These leg ruffles need to be folded on the outside, otherwise they might interfere with the job of the elastic, which is to keep the poop in.
5) Use a Cloth Diaper to Cover the Diaper
Best hack ever to prevent diaper blowouts, particularly at night: use a cloth diaper cover over the disposable diaper.
Now, hopefully blowouts at nights won’t happen for too long. Unless your child gets diarrhea that is.
In fact, newborns can take a few days / weeks to adapt to the circadian rhythm but, once they do, they should stop making poops at night. They might still do a big one when they wake up, so don’t leave them in bed with a full nappy for too long in the morning!
However, when they are very little, there’s nothing worse that experiencing a diaper explosion all over baby’s clothes and bed, and having to change all the sheets in the middle of the night.
Adding a cloth diaper cover on top of the disposable diaper is an extremely clever move to get ahead of the game. These usually have elastics all around baby’s body (back, legs, and often front) and are waterproof, making them the perfect poonami-proof solution.
They can be very cheap and are made of PUL (sort of a waterproof / plastic material), meaning they are very easy to wash (in the morning!). Not to mention they are usually one size, so that they can grow with your baby and you don’t have to buy different ones as your baby gets older.
These Hibaby covers are extremely cheap and even have double gussets (double elastics around baby’s legs) for maximum protection.
6) Use Diapers for Active Babies
Do you have a very active baby and you notice that the diaper moves around too much, causing leaks? Then you need to make sure that you use diapers that have a very snug fit and are extra sturdy, so that they stay in place.
This only usually happens when your baby gets a bit older, and starts crawling around quite a bit.
Pampers Cruisers and Huggies Little Movers are two very good brands that are designed specifically for babies on the move. And they both come in size 3 (16 to 28 lbs) up.
Pampers Cruisers new model 360° Fit doesn’t even have tabs. Instead, it has an elastic that goes all the way around, providing the perfect fit around the waist.
If you are using cloth diapers, avoid using AI2 (all-in-two) or hybrid diapers. These have got inserts that are separate from the cover and can move around very easily if you have a very active baby. I am talking from experience here …. my second daughter has been driving me mad with this! 🙂
If the inserts are out of place, the diaper ends up leaking quite easily. Whether it’s pee or poop, you will find yourself changing diapers and clothes constantly.
Flat cloth diapers can also move around easily, so avoid these too.
Instead, use Fitted diapers, AIO (all-in-one) or Pocket Diapers. These are either one piece (no inserts separate from the cover), or the inserts go within a pocket of the cover. These designs keep the absorbency in place and are way more effective at preventing blowouts.
- The Best Fitted Cloth Diapers
- The Best Pocket / Modern Cloth Diapers
- The Best All In One Cloth Diapers
7) Buy Diapers with Back Pockets
If baby blowouts are happening mostly at the back, like for this mom down here, consider buying diapers that have got a pocket at the back. This will catch most of the poop shooting at the back, and stop it from overflowing on the outside.
Huggies Little Snuggles are an example of diapers that have got a pocketed back waistband.
8) Use Overnight Diapers
If your baby is still quite young and pooping a lot at night, another way to prevent leaking at night is to use overnight diapers, such as Huggies Overnites or Pampers Swaddlers Overnights. These have extra absorbency, so also perfect if you have a heavy wetter.
Now, I wouldn’t particularly encourage you to leave a poopy diaper on your baby the whole night! This might lead to rashes, plus they’ll probably start crying and won’t fall asleep until you’ve changed them anyway. Would you sleep with poop on you at night?! 🙂
However, the extra absorbency will help keep the solid waste in, so that the only thing you need to change is a diaper. Instead of changing the diaper, clothes and bed sheets!
If you want to use cloth diapers at night, I’d say wait until your baby stops pooping at night 🙂 I honestly couldn’t deal with chaning cloth diapers at night when my bebies were small, so I used disposables at the beginning.
Once they were a bit older and only peeing at night, I found that fitted or wool cover gave me the best combination to last the whole night without a diaper change!
9) Try Different Brands
Finding the best diapers to avoid blowouts is not an exact science. Every baby is different: some are skinnier, some are chubbier, some prefer to sit most of the time, some are always on the move, some have more sensitive skin, etc.
If you have tried all the tips above but still experiencing lots of poop explosions, then it might be a good idea to try a different brand of diapers.
As a general rule, look for diapers that have extra absorbency, and stretchy elastics that go all the way around.
However, don’t think that a more expensive diaper is necessarily better than a cheaper one! I have had great success with cheap and unknown brands from the supermarket 🙂
10) Consider a Baby Blowout Blocker
Diaper blockers, also called diaper extenders are either disposable or reusable pads that fit and secure at the back of any brand of disposable diapers. They help increase the diaper absorbency and prevent blowouts at the back.
11) Have your Baby Use the Toilet or Potty
Now, most people laugh when I tell them my not even 1 year old daughters used to poop on the toilet or potty. But don’t worry, I am not crazy! Or at least I don’t think I am … 🙂
It’s something I actually started doing after I learnt about Elimination Communication (EC). This is a practice based on the belief that babies give cues when they need to pee or poo. We, as parents, can learn to read these cues and help our children to use the toilet or potty when producing waste.
Now, I won’t lie … it’s not always easy to learn the cues for a pee. But it sure is easy to see when a baby needs to poo! Particularly when they start solids and their poos become a bit more solid.
I have been putting my babies on the potty since they were newborn and have been extremely successful at having them poop outside the diaper! This practice has actually saved me from cleaning hundreds of cloth diapers from solid waste.
How to Prevent Diaper Blowouts with Cloth Diapers
Most of the tips above also work with Cloth Diapers, however the following tips are exclusive to Cloth.
If you are looking for tips on how to prevent baby diaper blowouts with reusable swim diapers, check out these articles instead:
1) Don’t Over Stuff the Diapers with Inserts
If you are using cloth diapers that have got the inserts that sit inside the cover, such as hybrid or pocket (with the insert on the inside), then make sure not to over stuff them with inserts.
By doing so, there’s a high risk that you are going to compromise on a snug fit, particularly around the legs. This will allow pee and poop to easily come out the sides.
If you are experiencing lots of leaks, try using more absorbent materials (cotton or bamboo, instead of microfiber) or try a different type of cloth diaper, instead of over stuffing.
2) Increase Absorbency
Another reason why your cloth diapers might be leaking pee or poop, is that they do not have enough absorbency. To fix this, add an extra insert or change to more absorbent materials (cotton or bamboo, instead of microfiber).
But remember not to over stuff! Think of it as a balancing act!
3) Buy Cloth Diapers with Dual Gusset
If you are experiencing poop coming out the legs, consider buying cloth diapers that have got a dual gusset, such as the EcoPosh OBV.
This double elastic system offers a double barrier that prevents any sort of leakage from the sides.
4) Buy Covers with an Elastic at the Front
Some cloth diaper covers come with an extra elastic at the front. I found this to be very useful in containing poop from coming out the front. Particularly with my second daughter who likes to sleep on her tummy.
Two example of brands that sell covers with an elastic at the front are Apple Cheeks and Kangacare.
5) Make Sure that the Inserts are Tucked in Properly
Finally, make sure that you are tucking the inserts inside the diaper cover properly. Do not leave parts of the inserts outside at the front or at the back.
Sometimes it’s easy to forget to check at the back that the whole of the insert is inside the cover!
Diaper Blowout Hacks for No More Mess!
So, you’ve followed all the tips above but … damn, these poop explosions still happen sometimes!
Don’t worry, like I mentioned before, it’s part of baby’s life. Sometimes it’s just inevitable.
But there’s ways to deal with it as efficiently and mess-free as possible! Here’s all the hacks I have learnt along the way on how to deal with diaper blowouts.
1) Deal with it Straight Away
The first and best of the diaper blowout hacks is to deal with it straight away. Don’t let it spread!
The longer you wait, the more time poop has to travel through and across baby’s clothes and everywhere else. The more mess you will have to deal with.
Best advice I can give you: trust your sense of smell 🙂
If you are driving and you feel something might have happened at the back, it’s best to arrive 10 minutes late at destination, then to spend 30 minutes cleaning everything afterwards (car seat included).
2) Wash Everything as soon as Possible
Don’t let poop sit on the clothes or cloth diapers for too long. I know sometimes you are just too tired to deal with it but, the longer you wait, the harder it’s going to be to take the stain away.
Rinse everything under water (cold water is fine) and start the washing straight away. If you can’t start it straight away, I would at least let them soak in some water until you do.
If you use cloth diapers, you can rinse them in the toilet or use a diaper sprayer to get the poop off.
I personally don’t use any stain remover: the sun is enough (see next tip!). But if you prefer, you can apply some before washing them. Just make sure you do not apply any stain remover on cloth diapers, or you will ruin their absorbency in no time!
3) Hang Everything Under Direct Sunlight
This is possibly the BEST tip I was EVER given. I have to thank my midwife for this …
Now, don’t ask me for the exact scientific reason, because I don’t know. Something to do with the effect of UV rays on poop stain. But, know that if you hang clothes with poop stain under direct sun light, you can watch the stain magically disappear in no time!
This tip works particularly well if you are breastfeeding. If you are formula feeding it might not be that effective. See how it goes and, if you need to, use some stain remover.
4) Have a Potty or Rubbish / Diaper Bags Nearby
Even if your child is not at an age to be using a potty, I have found that having a potty nearby is always helpful when dealing with diaper blowouts. At least I know where to temporarily throw the diaper and all those dirty wipes.
I don’t like to throw everything in a bin straight away: I prefer to seal everything in a diaper bag. So I throw everything in the potty, then into a diaper bag.
You can also put everything in a diaper bag straight away. But, particularly if I am by myself, I find it hard to juggle baby with one hand (keeping her hands away from all the mess), while trying to keep the bag open with the other, and throw everything in it.
If you are outside, diaper bags are the only options obviously. So, always make sure you have some in your diaper bag! We have been caught off guard so many times having to deal with a blowout outside, and no diaper bags with us!
And an extra tip: you don’t have to buy specific bags for diapers! Any plastic bag will do! We even use the plastic bags we get at the supermarket for the fruit and veggies … those do just fine!
If you are brave enough to venture outside with cloth diapers, I really recommend you get some waterproof cloth diaper bags! These are perfect for storing your dirty diapers, and seal off any odor. We actually use these even for dirty clothes when on the go.
5) Take the Envelope Onesie Off from the Bottom
Make sure to use envelope onesies or bodysuits with your baby! I thought the envelopes’ purpose was just to get baby’s head through the onesie … wrong!
The envelopes are actually perfect to allow you to pull the onesie off from baby’s leg, instead of the head. This way, you avoid risking having any poop on the hair!
When babies are quite small, I also love the design of these onesies with the buttons at the front. I was gifted some for my first daughter, and I found them to be terrific, particularly when cleaning after a poop explosion.
They come off incredibly easily and avoid extra mess.
6) Roll the Onesie Inwards
Another hack when dealing with a diaper blowout is to roll the top or onesie with the poop inwards. Once you’ve sealed the poop within the onesie, then you can take it off without it spreading anywhere else.
Once you use this tip, then you could even get the onesie out from your baby’s head.
7) Use a Portable or Disposable Changing Mat
There’s nothing worse than being outside, like at a friend’s house, and having to deal with a diaper explosion without a changing mat. Are you really going to change that diaper on the carpet or your friend’s bed?
Always have some changing mats with you when on the go! You can either use disposable mats, or buy a reusable portable changing mat. I find the latter to be perfect to fit in my diaper bag: they are made of plastic, so super easy to wipe clean.
8) Put Baby Straight Under the Shower or in the Bath
If you hate using a thousands disposable wipes like me, then get most of the poop out with a couple of wipes, then put your baby straight under the shower or in the bath (or in the sea if you are with baby at the beach). Though I would recommend the shower, so the poop goes straight down the drain …
I personally use cloth wipes most of the times. But, to be honest, I wouldn’t even dare using cloth wipes when dealing with a diaper blowout … 🙂
Obviously, if you are outside, this is not an option. Just make sure to always have quite a lot of wipes with you in the diaper bag!
9) Have a Diaper Pail that Seals Odors In
Another amazing diaper blowout solution: use a diaper pail that seals any odors away!
There are quite a few different brand choices out there. I personally use the Tommee Tippee Sangenic Diaper Pail, and it’s one of the best investments we’ve even made. But you can also find other similar ones for sale.
The bin has a long plastic tube that rotates around the diapers, sealing the poop or pee in. We store all diapers in the pail in the bedroom and only empty it at the end of the week with the rest of the rubbish. It’s that easy and convenient.
10) Take Extra Outfits
ALWAYS make sure to take extra outfits for both you and baby when going outside. Particularly when baby is quite small and the chances of a blowout are higher.
It’s easy to remember a change of clothes for baby, but also very easy to forget to pack a backup outfit for the adults. Blowouts can be very messy, particularly if they happen when baby is sitting on you!
I have had to change my pants a few times when out and about…
Baby Blowout: Final Thoughts
So, here it is mama. All my tips on how to prevent diaper blowouts, and hacks on how to deal with the mess afterwards.
Like I mentioned before, baby blowouts do happen, no matter how much you try and prevent them. Sometimes they are just inevitable.
All you can do is take all the right steps to make sure they don’t happen too often, and have all the right tools and knowledge to deal with it so that it doesn’t get too messy (and overwhelming).
Just make sure you get to know your baby (remember not all babies are the same, and different diapers work for different babies), and experiment with different brands until you find the one that works for you.
I personally had great experiences with both Huggies and Pampers, but have equally been successful with unknown brands!
Cloth diapers can also be perfect if you are on a budget, as they can save you so much money compared to disposables!
I only use disposable diapers when out and about (we like to travel a lot), and sometimes at night (just because the urine smell in the morning can be quite pungent).
I also did use disposable in the newborn stages: too much to deal with when also trying to survive the first few weeks with a new baby!
For more tips and information on how to survive the first few weeks and months postpartum:
- How to Survive the First 3 Months with a Newborn
- 6 Tips For First Time Moms (Practical Advice To Help New Moms Adjust)
- Baby on a Budget: Top Tips on How to Save Money with a New Baby
- 18 Tips on How to Soothe a Crying Baby
For more tips if you are breastfeeding or bottle feeding for the first time:
- Sore Nipples While Breastfeeding?! 15 Tips that Saved Me!
- 25 Formula & Bottle Feeding Tips (to Make it Easier!)
- Sudden Drop in Milk Supply (Signs, Causes & How to Fix it!)
- 20+ Best Online Breastfeeding Courses of 2021 (FREE Classes too!)
Or if you are struggling with baby not sleeping at night:
- Baby Waking Up Multiple Times a Night: here’s what you need to know
- 6 Sleep Training Methods that ACTUALLY work (and that don’t involve Cry It Out!)
- 8 Tips for New Parents to Avoid Sleep Deprivation
Are you a mom who’s struggling with diaper blowouts and need some extra help? Or do you have more tips to share that I haven’t listed above? Please do leave a comment and let me know! I’d love to hear your thoughts 🙂
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