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Blowouts: One of the Big Downsides to Disposables

Just before our first child was born I remember taking the newborn-sized diapers out of the package and marveling at how how small they
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were. I imagined lifting tiny legs and wiping the teensy-tiny cheeks.  Those first few diaper changes are a new and exciting experience, as are all the “firsts” you will have with your child. But be warned: diaper changes can and will get ugly and you will eventually learn to fear "The Blowout".  Because I now use cloth diapers on my son, our blowouts have been few and far between and have happened only when he is wearing disposables--like on the plane.  What better time to have a wriggly, poo-covered infant than when you are surrounded by silently staring strangers? But I digress. The first few bowel movements your baby has will be meconium--a sticky black substance left behind in the baby’s intestines from the amniotic fluid that the baby has swallowed in utero.  You will wonder how so much of this odorless, alien goo can come out of someone so tiny.  But the good news it, it will clear up soon and be replaced by the mild-smelling, mustard yellow newborn poops. Newborn poo is harmless and so it makes a great introduction to diaper changing.  In fact, it's barely unpleasant to change these diapers until you experience your first encounter with: The Up-The-Back Blow-Out Sometime within the first few weeks, you will go to change what you think is an ordinary, innocent poopy diaper.  Upon opening the diaper, you will realize that baby has a mustard colored stripe extending all the way up his back.  You'll be lifting baby by his ankles, thinking "Surely this can't go any higher!"  In your distracted awe, in your search for the end of the poop-stripe, your baby may now be resting on the back of his head, held by his ankles and completely perpendicular to the changing table.  Though it's rare, sometimes these blowouts can reach the hairline, thus changing from an Up-the-Back to the infamous "Hairy Blowout".   The Baby-Left-a-Wet-Spot-on-my-Slacks Now, once baby gets old enough to sit and and to be bounced a bit on your knee, diapers and their occasional shortcomings can be appreciated in other ways.  Often, after having a nice visit with baby, a friend or family member will hand baby back to you only to discover a warm, wet, spot on his or her pant leg. Ooops. The diaper leaked. This can happen for a couple of different reasons, for instance: if the diaper is very full or if it is not covering both cheeks evenly and is off to one side.  In summer months, if baby is wearing only a diaper or a onesie, you may see a slight variation of this leak in which the spot may be yellow or brownish--the dreaded The Baby-Left-a-Poop-Stain-on-my-Slacks.   The Standing-Diaper-Change-with-a-Twist Once baby is standing and you've been changing diapers for long enough to feel quite confident, you may attempt the "Standing Diaper Change".  This sounds easy enough and for wet diapers, it is fairly straightforward.  Unfortunately, sooner or later your luck will run out and in your haste, you'll whip off the diaper without performing the extremely important first step--peeking down the back for hidden treasure. This diaper change can prove disastrous--nuggets may get flung across the room or smears can appear anywhere from thigh to ankle.  There will be screams of disgust and fright (yours) as you simultaneously attempt to contain the mobile and poo-covered baby, roll up the offending diaper and wipe off any and all of the foul surprise. Now, fear not, changing diapers is not always as hazardous as the examples I've given, especially if you are using cloth, though I daresay you'll encounter all of these challenges, and more.  If you have a boy, for instance, beware of "The Fountain".  Thanks to the leg gussets and comfy elastic around the top of our Thirsties, blowouts are mostly a thing of the past and only seem to happen when Cooper is wearing the occasional disposable diaper.  But we’re taking another plane-ride soon and I’ll definitely be packing extra clothes in the diaper bag!
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  • Hilarious! And totally true! Cloth really contains those massive poops. Our 15 month old eats like a horse, and poos like a horse :) Disposables just ooze out the sides. Yeesh. Well said!

    Nell on
  • How long is your flight? We went from Florida to Boston for a week and used cloth the whole time! No big deal, but of course she didn’t poo on the plane either.

    Noelle on
  • I switched to Cloth exactly because of blow-outs. We started with Thirsties covers because of the awesome leg gussets, it helped tremendously, we never had a blow out again… those gussets are the only thing that could contain my EBF baby’s poop.

    Vanessa Coker on

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