If it’s bath time and I hear my daughter utter three little words, then I know there is a cringe-worthy sight waiting for me in the tub. "All done, Mama," she says, moving to the corner as pieces of poop float amongst brightly colored foam letters and toy boats. "It’s OK, baby," I say, reassuring her as I wrap her in a towel. One by one, I fish out the toys and toss them into a plastic bag, but I wonder: Should you throw toys away if your baby poops in the tub?
"Bath toys do not need to be thrown away, but should be properly cleaned," says Texas-based Dr. Eboni Hollier, who is board-certified in both general and developmental and behavioral pediatrics, in a Romper email interview. "There is an extremely low risk of infections associated with baby having a bowel movement while in the tub."
Hollier recommends first scooping the poop from the tub, draining the water, and squeezing all excess water from toys. Allow the toys to completely dry while cleaning the tub with your choice of cleaning solution, then rinse the tub. Once toys are dry, place them in hot water and vinegar for 10 to 20 minutes, using one part vinegar and three parts hot water. Rinse and allow them to dry out again.
As for preventing future incidents, Hollier points out that babies and young children often have bowel movements shortly after eating a meal, so try to give your child a bath before dinnertime or wait at least an hour after a meal.
If you aren’t so lucky and murky waters abound, then Hollier says it’s vital to limit your reaction and keep your crying on the inside, even though it’s tough. "It is important to stay calm and keep your poker face during these times," she says. "Becoming overly emotional can make dealing with this situation more difficult for both you and your child."
Another rule to keep in mind: If you are second-guessing your ability to properly clean any of the toys, then toss them. Following one incident, my daughter’s squeezable cow and chicken bit the dust because I felt like I couldn’t squeeze all of the water out of them.
Of course, once you’ve cleaned everything up, it’s time to re-bathe your babe and wash away any of the bacteria that may have made its way to their skin.
The good news? Step 125 in this process — immediately after putting the baby to bed — is to drink a glass of wine or call a fellow mom to vent about your night. Or both.