Poop, Poop, Go Away....

Babies poop. A lot. I'm pretty sure if you've had a baby you quickly figured this one out. I'm always amazed at what can come out of such a tiny little person (or my 4 year old, for that matter). When they're first born they don't really care if it is day or night in regards to poop. It's super fun to wake up to a blow out in the middle of the night. And if you are my oldest, you'll do this twice a night for weeks. Ah, the fond memories.

Luckily, once baby gets her
 days and nights figured out the pooping at night slows down. And once baby eats less at night and sleeps for longer stretches the pooping drops down even more and usually goes away.

The same thing kind of happens once babies get into a nap routine. Their body gets used to when they sleep and they stop pooping during these times. The eat/wake/sleep cycle also helps because by the time baby is ready for a nap he has usually already done his poop.

But sometimes their little bodies don't get it.

My youngest Jacob was like this. His body has never been one to pick up on and keep to patterns very easily. What can I say, he likes a little variety. He was like this with sleep (which left me excited, then let down, then excited, repeat) and he was like this with poop. He liked to poop during naps and he liked to poop during the middle of the night--mainly during the early morning hours which meant it was hard to get him to go back to sleep. The naps improved all by themselves over time but with the night I ended up using wake to sleep to get him out of the habit. Right now he's 20 months old and he still occasionally poops at night time. What the what?! At least it isn't very often.

Here are some pointers if you've got a little overly excited pooper on your hands:
  • Wait it out. If you have a newborn, it'll probably go away on its own. If you have an older child, still wait it out. More likely than not it'll pass before you know it. If not....
  • Try good old wake to sleep like I did. I know. I mention wake to sleep a lot but it is such a nifty sleep tool.
  • Evaluate your child's diet. Have you recently started to give solids or new foods? Time may fix things and possibly even more solids (though too much at once may make things worse).  Maybe you can change around the timing of when you give solids or just change the type of food you give at certain times. If you are having night poop problems, high fiber early on in the day may help your child poop then and not later.
  • Evaluate your diet if you are nursing. Some moms swear their babies poop shortly after eating or drinking certain things.
  • Look at the timing. Maybe she is pooping right upon waking in the morning and not actually in the middle of the night. 
  • Are you potty training? Some kids will hold in their poop during the day then go during sleep times because they relax and/or because they are put in diapers/trainers.
  • With a younger child doing the eat/wake sleep cycle can help avoid a poop during naps. With an older child, letting her run around for a few minutes before a nap, often in private, helps to get out the poop, if there is one, before the nap.

One extra thing. Whenever my kids have taken longer than usual to fall asleep and they are playing like nobody's business, it is often a poop. So make sure to check this out. You'll probably figure out exactly what your child does in this situation after some time.

Wait, I just thought of another thing. If you've got a child that likes to sneakily poop during sleep (as in they wake, poop, then drift off to dreamland again) then make sure you put some diaper ointment on their little bums. You don't want to wake up to some sore red bum cheeks in the morning. Ouch! While we're on the subject, I suggest lansinoh or aquaphor or really, anything that doesn't reek and stain everything white or brown or any other color.

And that's enough about poop!


  1. Amy commented on Poop, Poop, Go Away.... - My Baby Sleep Guide:

    This problem is completely ruining my 13 month old's sleep. She has gotten so overtired from skipping naps (because she poops in the crib before a nap has a chance to start, and then if she's poopy she WON'T sleep). I have tried going in and changing her but me showing up in her room caused even more problems. She would not go to sleep after I left, and then subsequent days she would get screamy and demanding expecting attention from me...it became confusing. Sometimes I would think she'd pooped but she hadn't and then that set us up for more problems. So now I stay out. But she never sleeps if there's poop. I've altered meal schedules, I've allowed AMPLE time for moving around before nap times, but she won't take the bait...doesn't relax enough to poop I guess until she's confined in the dark. She is so overtired she's taken a short morning nap only for 3 days running (I have to limit her morning nap or there definitely will be no afternoon nap). It really stinks to wake your child up from needed sleep in the morning, and then put them down in the afternoon and have them buck that nap. I put her to bed at 5 and she sleeps only til 5am. I am entirely dedicated to good sleep and she's my 3rd child so I have experience...just can't figure out how to help her. If I ever get her slightly back on track of good napping all it takes is a few days of skipped naps from poops and we're right back in the overtired pit. If I let her sleep as long as she wants in the morning I can assure no afternoon naps, but if I wake her, there still might be no afternoon nap and then I've really done it. Can you tell I'm at a loss??? I HATE POOP!!!!!!! Thanks for your post.

    1. Amy commented on Poop, Poop, Go Away.... - My Baby Sleep Guide:

      Wow, thank you for those thoughts! I am going to mull these over...and then try something. I am nervous of going in regularly because I have a feeling she will 'suffer with that attention.' I wonder if I got her up and then put her back down if she would fall for that...hmm. I guess the danger is that she could become accustomed to only having to be in the crib for a short time before expecting to be 'let out' of naptime. She currently always stays in 70-90 minutes even if she's skipping the nap...just because I want to send the consistent message that...hey, you might as well go to sleep because it's crib time every day for a long time!! She does not have an independent play habit...eesh, that sounds like a very useful possibility! It is tough to have independent play when you have a short-tempered baby from bad sleeping and right before naptime...will think on this one too.

      I am absolutely fascinated with your perspective on bedtime. It is very different from the people who gave me my 'sleep education'...Weissbluth devotees. If she is up at 5am or even 6 (hasn't happened in more than a month, but hey, miracles happen!), has a morning nap only and so has her last sleep ending at 10am...or even earlier...how can I push her later than 5? Would you do that knowing those details now? Honestly, she is quite overtired sometimes by 5. 4:45 suits her better. On the other hand, I totally see that when she used to be in a 'normal' rut and would have a bad day and I'd put her to bed at 5, she'd sleep 13 or 14 hours and really catch up. Now, she just sleeps 5p-5a, so there's not much catching up with a longer night going on, even though naps are so awful. I feel like I would just feed her overtiredness to put her down later than 5. Hmm.

    2. cont...

      The other background info here is that the poop is partly such a problem because her naps have just been quite difficult for a long time now...since maybe 10 months (and she's 13). All my kids started having problems fitting in two naps around that time. And starting to wake super early. So I never knew if it was an overtiredness problem from early waking or a problem of getting older and needing less nap time. I think if I had a better handle on her nap timing, she would be spending less time awake in the crib before a nap and fall off to sleep before she poops. Who knows. I notice in the morning nap if she poops, she'll still eventually fall asleep...though sometimes 45 minutes late! Afternoon, though, if there's a poop...she's just up. Afternoon naps are always harder...less sleepy somehow...so it's clearly related. I had a patch of success with naps when I started her nap at 8:30am, woke her by 9:45 regardless of nap length, and then did a 2nd nap at 12:45...but just a patch. So I think if overall naps were easier this wouldn't be a problem. I have super tough sleepers!!!

      Your comment is making me seriously wonder if too-early bedtimes are a big part of my problem. I have almost never met someone as dedicated to timing, being home, consistency, ritual, early bedtimes etc. as I am with sleep...and so often my kids are the worst nappers I know! So maybe all the counsel I've received about super early bedtimes is actually hurting me. When they wake so early is does make waketimes long to get to naps and that doesn't help things. But how do I put a kid to bed later who has been up since 5a, and had one short morning nap, and definitely nightwakes when she gets increasingly overtired??

      I am definitely stream-of-consciousness here, and apologize for how long I've gone on. I am just so relieved to have met someone who's struggled with this poop issue also!! Thanks so much for the moral support.

      And so funny...my husband and I are scientists...myself a chemist...and we've had more than one talk about inventing a poop-o-meter!! My husband thinks a sensor on the baby monitor could do it, but it wouldn't catch the less-odorous ones ;) Ha ha!

  2. My 12 month old son has often woken up in the middle of his 2 hour nap to do a poo. This means naps mostly last less than the needed 2 hours. If he doesn't do a poo I often have to wake him after 2 hours.his diet is pretty consistent and he eats well and I've had no luck identifying something that would make him need to poo.I'll give the running around after lunch before bap time a go. Any other suggestions?? I'll try anything as I've been battling this for months!!!

    1. Hi I am having the exact same problem. Did you get this sorted and if so how?

  3. My baby is over 20 days old and wakes up once at 3.00 am and again early morning at 5.30 due to poop 😞 Should I try the wake to sleep method or is it too early...

    1. Unknown,
      At that age it is normal to wake a few times at night to eat and poop. It'll decrease with age.