Back when B was a baby, I heard tell of an obnoxious and disgusting issue that parents of older babies and toddlers sometimes ran into:  poop painting.  I guess some babies and toddlers revel in being able to take off their clothes and/or diaper after dropping a deuce.  And then they….experiment.

I saw posts in online forums desperately seeking ways to curb the behavior.  I read them all, terrified that my B would be a poop painter.  Little did I know, it would be me that eventually painted with poop.

My accidental paint brush.

I spray-painted the bathroom with poop the very first time I used our diaper sprayer. Now, I love the the thing (ok, “love” is too strong a word for something intended to deal with poop…), but I swear I say a little prayer every time I use it!   This post is intended to help you learn from my mistakes and answer your sprayer prayers in advance!

First things first, why use a diaper sprayer?  Once your babe is eating an appreciable amount of solid foods, you want to remove what poop you can.  Breastmilk poop is water-soluble, so it requires nothing and can go through your washer and dryer and not leave a trace.  From what I can find about formula poop many don’t have any trouble with treating it just like breastmilk poop, while others do find it does not completely drain out of the washer and they choose to remove it before putting it in the diaper pail.

Solids, however, often will leave quite a bit of trace.  Think bean skins and partially-chewed raisins/grapes (they get somewhat reconstituted!).  These things do not drain out of the washer and you can find yourself scooping them out, or removing them from the lint filter of the dryer (for me that is preferable to wet, though…::gag::).

Obviously, I have fished these things out of my washer and dryer (and promptly washed my hands!).  I have also tried and/or contemplated a few other tactics for dealing with solids poop.  Here they are (and what others have you readers tried?):

1.  Many parents use the “plop, dunk, and swish” technique. Essentially, you get as much poop off as you can just by plopping it off, then you dunk it and swish it around to get off whatever is stuck on or ground in.  The drawbacks I found:  dripping poopy water from the toilet to the diaper pail (also sometimes an issue with the sprayer, but I will get to how I minimize that in a moment), getting closer to the toilet water with my hands, and a friend of mine somehow managed to flush the insert of a fitted diaper after a dunk and swish.

2. Liners.  TGN has a few options for diaper liners, including flushable/biodegradable and reusable.  I have only ever used the disposable variety, and they are perfect when we are traveling (i.e. without a sprayer).  I always wash and re-use until they either get pooped on (and flushed) or they fall apart.  Plus I can simply flush them away, and they are biodegradable; I don’t feel like I am creating a lot of extra waste, and I don’t have to justify myself to the small environmentalist voice in my head.  The downside of this option is that it is one more little thing to deal with at diaper changes, keep stocked, and also sort when I do diaper laundry.  I have considered having sitters use them regularly so that they do not poop-spray paint the bathroom in my absence.

3.  The diaper sprayer.  This thing essentially gently power washes the poop off the diaper.  It works well for the transitional not-breastmilk/not-solids poop that I call peanut butter poop – it is the consistency/stickiness and often the color of peanut butter.  I have overcome the poopy-water-drip problem by using as little spray as I can (often the diaper isn’t soaked) and also by using the waterproof cover to keep the water from dripping to the floor, especially if the cover already has poop on it and is headed for the diaper bin anyway!  Downsides:  learning curve, and some really misleading information on the package.

So, here are my recommendations once you’ve got that bad boy home.

1) Once you’ve got it hooked up and are ready to practice, close the door.  At least as you turn on the sprayer (they have an on/off valve). Why?  Because you do not want your baby to become a toddler and then a preschooler who saw you turn on the water.  Your baby will inevitably become a curious toddler who sees the diaper sprayer and pushes the button that could spray them in the face and/or turn your bathroom into a slip and slide.  If the valve is off, the diaper sprayer is a lot less intersting!  You do not want them to know how to turn that valve!  You do not want them to know of the valve’s existence!!  (This is also a good time to tell you to get yourself into the habit of turning the valve to the “off” position after every use!)

2) Don’t wait for a poopy diaper.  Aim the into the toilet and experiment with the amount of pressure it requires to start spraying really lightly.  Then see just how powerful it can get.  And then laugh imagining me going full-throttle on a poopy diaper and redecorating the bathroom!

3) Baby pooped! Plop off what you can.  Then, you want minimal pressure as you take aim and get the angle right on that poopy diaper.  The goal is not to give the diaper a good washing, but to remove the poop into the toilet.  Sometimes that takes very little water pressure (when Baby is taking in a lot of solids – and especially if you are able to get that poopy diaper off before baby sits down on it – sometimes the sprayer is completely unnecessary and just the plop will do.)

4) Did you remember to turn the valve to the “off” position?

5) If ever your toilet appears to be leaking all over the floor, double-check the sprayer’s hoses.  Otherwise, it can make for an embarrassing call to the landlord or a plumber.

6) Did you just recall that the package says you can use this handy gadget as a handheld bidet and for feminine hygiene?  Did you just have a baby, and think maybe this is the answer to your current fear of toilet paper? IT’S NOT.  Thankfully, I read a blog entry about this very thing while I was pregnant with A.  The author had used the diaper sprayer as a postpartum bidet.  Two things to consider before trying that:  first, cold water comes out of the sprayer.  Second, I would say the sprayer gently power washes…but in no sense do you want power washing near your postpartum bits! Nonono!

6)  If you decide to use this thing as a bidet, please please please tell us all if you spray yourself in the face.