Diaper Blowouts: Why They Happen & How to Deal with Them

Sometimes, your baby warns you with smelly gas, a funny face, or even crying and fussiness.

Other times, though, there’s no warning. You pick up a seemingly happy baby only to discover poop everywhere. It’s every parent’s nightmare — a diaper blowout!

Diaper blowouts can happen to even the most experienced parents, but there are ways to decrease the odds of one occurring.

Having a prep kit with you, particularly when traveling, is important if you have kids in diapers or even little ones who are still relatively new to potty training.

A mother and father changing a very dirty baby diaper

Even changing normal poopy diapers isn’t anything close to fun, but a dreaded blowout takes things to a whole new level. The smell, the appearance, and a wiggling baby can make these diaper changes super challenging!

A little preparation ahead of time can make the process faster and less messy, though – perhaps when you’re preparing that baby registry of yours – and that’s what we’re here to help out with in this article.

What Does Diaper Blowout Mean?

A diaper blowout is not your ordinary poop. In this case, poop often overflows the diaper and spills out the back, the front, and even the leg openings.

Your baby could have poop from head to toe, and if your little one can crawl or walk, you may even find a trail of poop on the floor!

Are Diaper Blowouts Normal? & What Causes Them?

Blowouts often occur when your baby is wearing the wrong size diaper instead of the right size. Baby diapers which are too small cannot physically handle what your baby is producing.

The easiest fix is to size up. If you use cloth diapers with adjusters, you may have to tinker with them to find the next size.

It can be tempting to keep the diapers you have, especially if you just opened a new box of disposables or if your stash of cloth diapers isn’t adjustable. Facing more blow outs, though, is likely not worth the cost of a few baby diapers.

That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to throw anything away. While you can’t return opened disposables to the store, you can donate them to children in need.

Blowouts could also indicate illness or an upset tummy. Runny poops tend to do exactly that—run everywhere! Consider these factors if you find yourself dealing with multiple blowouts:

1) Teething: Even though most doctors would say nay, experienced parents say teething can contribute to wet, messy poops.

2) Changing Diet: If your baby is trying new foods, he or she may experience an upset stomach here and there. Be alert for foods that tend to cause this reaction repeatedly, so you can make note and adjust as needed.

3) Your Diet: If you’re still breastfeeding, your diet can impact your baby’s potty habits. Be aware, especially with popular allergens like dairy.

4) Antibiotics: Antibiotics can impact your baby’s sensitive gut flora or all the good bacteria that normally live there. If you’re taking antibiotics and breastfeeding, some do pass in small amounts to breastmilk.

5) A Cold Or Other Illness: A sniffly nose may also lead to looser stools. If the symptoms persist, or you’re concerned, don’t hesitate to call your doctor.

6) The Diaper Isn’t On Correctly: Is the waist snug (but not tight)? Are the leg cuffs pulled out? For cloth diapers, are you snapping or fastening correctly?

How Do You Prevent Diaper Blowouts?

It’s the problem you can’t put a 100% end to: Diapers leak!

Sure, there’s options out there that do a WAY better job than others when it comes to preventing leaks, but there’s really no 100% guaranteed way you could put an end to this, even if it’s just a tiny bit of leakage.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to ensure your child never has blow outs, but the simplest way to prevent them is to ensure you’re using the right size diaper correctly.

Sure, there are tips to prevent diaper blow outs, but there’s no guarantee they’ll never experience one, no matter what you do to ensure leak protection.

Ensuring your child’s diapers fit is the best place to start – one that solves the problem straight away for many parents.

Cloth diapers can be especially challenging to fit properly. On the other hand, disposable diapers are typically sold with weight ranges – but these are only guidelines, not hard and fast rules.

Whichever you choose, you want a snug waist that falls under the belly button. The leg cuffs, or the little ruffles around the leg openings, should be pulled out and not tucked in.

When in doubt, reach out for help! Contact the manufacturer, reach out to mommy groups on social media for advice (they’ve been there, done that and are ready to help you out), or ask your family and friends.

Diapers, whether they are disposable or cloth, can be tricky to use – but you’ll probably find lots of people willing to offer advice!

Also, getting diapers that have a wetness indicator is a great idea, as that can really help you stay on top of things before the situation gets way more difficult to handle than you would have liked.

Last but not least, ensure that you only buy diapers made from high quality absorbent material, material that’s good for delicate skin too, as that’s going to help minimize any damage that could possibly occur.

What Should I Do When Having To Deal With A Diaper Blowout?

The feeling you get when you look down and realize poop is everywhere is hard to duplicate. But, it happens, so it’s best not to panic. Instead, jump into super parent mode!

A little prep work means you are ready for even the messiest, slimiest, smelliest poops you could ever be tested with.

Scenario #1: You’re Lucky, You’re At Home!

Home is where the heart is and where all your supplies are! If you’re lucky enough to be at home when the blowout occurs, you already have everything you need.

Decide where to go (changing table or bathroom) depending on how much poop is leaking on you, the floor, or your new imported rug.

1.A) Messy, But Not Too Bad?

Head to the changing station for changing the diaper. Your blowout-proof changing area should have some extra towels, preferably white ones with no patterns, so they are easy to bleach. Set one out and lay your baby on it.

Keep a wet bag and a few extra plastic grocery bags stashed in your changing table. Grab one of these to store the nasty clothes and even the diaper if you use cloth. Set this aside for now and wipe up your baby.

Try to get as much poop as you can, but you’re probably going to have to give him or her a bath as well. Toss the soiled wipes and baby diapers into another plastic bag. You don’t want to directly put these in your diaper bin because you’ll likely contaminate the opening.

Once you have cleaned up the baby and the immediate area, tie off your plastic bag and dispose of it in your diaper trash can or set it aside for the outside trash bin. Wrap your baby in another fresh towel or blanket and head to the bathroom for a quick bath!

1. B) Or, Maybe It Is Bad After All

Poop EVERYWHERE! In that case, head straight to the bathroom. Keep a spare towel for this purpose in your cabinet and set it on the floor. Carefully lay your baby down and take off the dirty clothing. Store them in a wet bag or plastic sack if you have one, otherwise just carefully plop on the floor (don’t splash!).

Keep a travel-sized pouch of wipes in the bathroom and use these for emergencies! Once you have a handle on the poop, get a bath running for your baby. When your baby is clean and dressed, come back and sanitize the floor, and anywhere else poop may have dripped.

Rinse the clothing and use stain remover if needed, and then wash as soon as possible. Cloth diapers should also be rinsed (after scraping any solid bits into the toilet) and washed as soon as you can. Stains are more likely to set if you wait too long.

Scenario #2: Not As Lucky, You’re Out In Public

New parents quickly learn to keep a well-packed diaper bag in the car or under the stroller. Even big kids occasionally need a change of clothing.

For dealing with blowouts when you’re on the go, assemble this kit:

  • Bags to store soiled clothes and dirty diapers and wipes
  • A towel for the changing table or floor
  • A change of clothing
  • Plenty of wipes
  • Diapers in the correct size
  • Hand-sanitizer and sanitizing travel wipes

Make it a habit to check the diaper bag every so often. Stock it with clothes with imperfections, such as stubborn stains, tiny holes, or mismatching socks or pants. Also, check your diaper sizes, so you don’t accidentally carry small ones around forever.

Find a restroom with a changing station if possible. If not, go to a quiet area and set your towel on the ground. Store the dirty clothes and wipe up as much as you can. Dispose of all the wastes properly and plan on a bath as soon as you get home!

Scenario #3: You Lose! You’re In The Car Or On An Airplane

This is perhaps the worst possible time for a blowout to occur. If your baby is in a car seat, you may not be able to pull over to change his or her diaper immediately. Once you realize a diaper change is needed, pull over as soon as you can safely do so.

Your changing kit for traveling should have all the same supplies as your normal diaper bag, but you might throw in a change of clothing for yourself. Change the baby either in your car or on the ground outside, using your towel as cushioning. Store dirty clothing separately from soiled diapers and wipes and dispose of the wastes properly.

Wipe down the car seat as much as you can. Most car seat covers can be washed, but they must air dry, which doesn’t help you while you’re traveling. Just do your best, and you can clean properly once you reach your destination.

If you don’t have access to a trash bin, double-bag the waste bag so it doesn’t smell in the car and hold on to it until you find a travel stop or gas station. Human waste is hazardous. Don’t leave it laying on the side of the road!

If you’re on an airplane, your little one may also be in a car seat, meaning you’ll probably need to clean the baby and the seat.

If you are traveling without adults, don’t be afraid to ask for help, especially if you have other children. Most parents have been there, done that, after all – and the people who know what it’s like to be in such a situation are always happy to lend a helping hand!

Some airplanes have diaper changing tables, but you might have to ask a flight attendant to be sure. If there is, take your changing kit and carefully clean up, being aware of turbulence. If there isn’t, you’ll have to change the baby on your lap or on the floor. A flight attendant can also help you dispose of your waste bag once your baby is clean.

Double-bag soiled clothes, store them in a zippered pocket to help prevent leaking and odors, and wipe the car seat clean. Traveling with little ones can be stressful, and blowouts can ratchet up the stress levels. Try to be calm, ignore people who are rude or impatient, and do the best you can with the circumstances you’re facing!

A Quick Note About Cleaning Car Seats When Dealing With Diaper Blowouts

Car seat manufacturers will each recommend certain steps for cleaning, and these steps can often be very different depending on each manufacturer.

Always double-check your seat’s safety manual. Never use harsh soaps, and some parts of the seat cannot get wet. Even if your cover is safe to wash, the safety harness should never go in a washing machine.

Most covers cannot be put in the dryer, either. The safety manual for your make and model of car seat will give you proper instructions for cleaning and drying. After all, you don’t want to do anything to compromise the safety of the seat.

Diaper Blowout Blockers

You could also use a machine washable diaper blowout blocker (also referred to as a diaper extender) to minimize the repercussions of a blowout your little one has.

With a baby blowout blocker diaper extension, you can easily take care of any mess as soon as it happens, without worrying about having to deep clean whatever they were sitting on at the time — be that their crib bedding, a car seat, etc …

You Can’t Stop ‘Em All, But You Can Most Certainly Be Ready!

You can’t stop all blow outs, but you can reduce the likelihood of experiencing them frequently by ensuring diapers of the right size are used correctly. Checking the waist and leg cuffs can help prevent poop from oozing out.

An emergency blowout kit is a must and should include bags to store dirty clothes and wastes, plenty of wipes and diapers, a change (or two!) of clothes, and a few easy-to-clean towels.

Messes at home are always simpler to deal with, but with a little prep work, you can be ready for whatever happens when traveling, too.

So, next time your baby’s face turns red, you hear the tell-tale sound of poop rushing out and you start to have nightmares about all that diaper rash cream you’ll have to rub on (and around) their butt, don’t despair! You’re prepared to handle even the messiest situations.

We hope that these diapering tips were of help to you, and remember that if a blowout happens at the worst time, we’re all humans, and we all go!

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