How To Clean The Messiest Parts Of A Baby

Nothing is more adorable than your baby. On the other hand, your cooing dimpled darling has no control over his bodily functions and the clean up that follows is less than adorable. Some jobs seem quite straightforward when dealing with children, but can easily veer into gross territory in an instant.

Just ask Chicago mom Kristen Kupperman. “I was very squeamish, to say the least, the first time I had to take Owen’s rectal temperature,” remembers Kupperman. “My mouth dropped open, and I thought, I’m supposed to stick the thermometer where?”

Read on to find out the scoop on poop and how to perform other clean up duties without a bio-hazard suit.

Rectal temperature

Rectal thermometers are the best way to take a child’s temperature. You are never going to get your new born baby to stick a thermometer under their tongue for a minute. Similarly, taking a child’s temperature under his arm yields inaccurate results and the ear canal is crooked making ear thermometer reading just as inaccurate.

How to:

  • Lay out a disposable or washable changing pad. It’s not unusual for babies to poop after you take their temperature, and you don’t need any additional cleanup detail on your roster.
  • Place your baby face down on the pad and remove his diaper. Clean the area — a regular wipe is fine — and put your hand on the small of his back to keep him steady.
  • Using a digital thermometer, coat the tip thoroughly in a water-based lubricant such as KY jelly. Spread his buttocks apart and insert the thermometer about a half-inch.

If the reading is too low — below 97 degrees F — take her temperature again, a low temperature could indicate a problem, but it’s also possible you didn’t insert the thermometer far enough.

Diaper duty

It’ll amaze you how such a tiny little thing can make an enormous mess.

  • First take a peek in your baby’s diaper to assess the situation. Assemble your supplies before attempting to open the diaper.
  • Lay down a washable changing pad first. When the poop gets on the pad, take one end and fold it over and voila, you have a clean surface again.
  • Open up the clean diaper, get out several wipes, and lay baby on the pad. When removing the offending diaper, resist the temptation to frantically clean in all directions. “Always wipe from front to back,” says Karen Dull, MD, an emergency physician at Children’s Hospital Boston, “especially with girls, because if stool gets into the urethra, it can cause a urinary tract infection.”

Another important tip: Get the diaper away from baby as soon as possible. He could grab it or step on it, which turns a quick change into a long bath. Wipe thoroughly and put baby in the clean diaper.

The scoop on poop

Unfortunately, your baby’s clothes are not disposable so it’s important to properly disinfect poopy pants and shirts.

Feces is a major source of bacteria and germs in humans,

Stuffy noses

Somewhere in your arsenal of baby caring tools there should be a bottle of saline drops and a teardrop shaped suction bulb.

These two tools will be invaluable when your baby’s nose is stuffed up.

How to:

  • Cradle baby in your arms at a 45-degree angle and place your hand on her forehead to keep her head steady.

“Never lay baby flat on her back when you’re putting medicine into her mouth or nose,” says Dr. Eisenberg. “It can cause her to choke.”

Squirt three to 10 saline drops into each nostril. Don’t stress over a stray spritz or two — “the solution is similar in content to tears and doesn’t sting the eyes,” says Dr. Eisenberg.

  • Leave it in for a minute or two to loosen up the phlegm. If baby’s nose still seems stuffy, break out the bulb.
  • Squeeze air out of the aspirator, then insert the tip into the nostril. Then loosen your grip on the bulb so it suctions out the mucus (have a disposable tissue on hand so you can clean up the mess), and tackle the other nostril.

You may want to have a small bowl of warm, soapy water on hand so you can immediately soak the aspirator after each session.



A girl’s vagina is virtually self cleaning; it secretes anything that doesn’t belong inside it. Cover your fingers with a clean and wet wash cloth and gently pat along folds and creases. There’s no need to spread the labia. Pat dry after washing.


Size may not matter, but how you clean your baby’s penis does. There are very different methods for cleaning a circumcised penis versus an uncircumcised one.

How to:

  • If your baby boy is circumcised, submerging him in bathwater before the wound heals could subject him to infection, warns Dr. Dull, so clean with care. After he’s circumcised, his penis will be wrapped in gauze — wait for the gauze to fall off on its own before you clean him up.
  • Wipe the penis very gently with a soft, wet, soapy cloth, and don’t forget to lift the scrotum and clean the base. Then, coat the wound with triple antibiotic ointment, which keeps it clean, helps it heal, and prevents it from sticking to the diaper. Use the ointment until the skin’s tone is even with the rest of the penis.

Uncircumcised babies can take baths as soon as the umbilical cord falls off, but don’t pull the foreskin down, advises Dr. Dull. The membrane attaching it to the penis will tear and bleed if it’s tugged too hard. It takes four months to a year before you can clean inside, she says. “When you can gently and easily pull it back, it’s time to clean inside.” Until then, clean the outside of the penis with a soft cloth, soap, and water.

Eyedrop drama

How to:

If you think your baby’s active when you change his diaper, just wait until he sees a medicine bottle lunging toward his eye! Lay the baby flat on his back on a changing table or put him on the floor on a clean blanket or towel.

If he won’t keep his eye open, drop the prescribed amount on the inside edge of the eyelid. Don’t worry about spillage.

Commit these tasks to memory as you’ll be doing them for a while!

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