Family Tree Doula Services
Professional Postpartum Support for Today's New Parents


Bits of wisdom for new parents bundled up in a blog!

Let's Talk Dirty: The Messy Truth About Babies

by Sheryl Cooksley

Oh the smell of a sweet new baby, all freshness with a touch of Lavender lotion. Or the smell of Dreft detergent wafting off of their freshly laundered clothes.

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When we dream of having our babies, we imagine white sheets and clean, pink babies. We dream of holding them close, nuzzling our noses to their sweet heads and then……



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Spitting up is common in healthy babies. About half of all babies during their first three months experience their stomach contents coming back up into the esophagus,
— Mayo Clinic

Thus begins your journey with your messy baby.

Does anyone really tell you about these things? Does anyone prepare you for projectile pooping or the infamous “fountain of pee”? How about the smell of baby spit up that saturates your clothes, the baby’s clothes, bedding and burp cloths? Do they talk about the mountains and mountains of laundry? Or the constant Googling or Pinterest saves offering guidance for cleaning solutions and how to use them?

As a postpartum doula, I receive the occasional text or have an animated conversation with a new parent telling me all about the latest, greatest messy adventures with their new baby. I am going to share with you some of my tried and true ways to manage this messy new adventure with your baby.

Spit Up

Spit up is regurgitated breast milk or formula. Formula’s chemical make-up makes it much harder to remove. Here are a few steps to make clean-up easier:

  • Soak any effected clothes/bedding/burp cloths in cold water immediately if possible.

  • Spray with a good enzyme based stain remover. My favorite for spit up is Kids n Pets Instant All-Purpose Stain and Odor Remover. This product has proven to be a game changer in odor removal arena. Let sit for 5 minutes.

  • Wash as usual with mild baby detergent, such as Dreft, and warm water.

  • Before drying, check if stain has come out. If not, repeat the process and try again.


Baby poop has 11 different forms (click here to learn everything about baby poop). Although there are many forms of baby poop, they have 1 thing in common: they can stain. To remove baby poop from most fabrics:

  • Soak any effected clothes or bedding in cold water (soaking in warm or hot water can set the stain).

  • Spray with a good baby-friendly stain remover. I was shocked and amazed at how well the Dreft Laundry Stain Remover spray worked. Others work well, too, but of the many I have personally tried, this one was the most impressive. Let sit for 5 minutes.

  • Wash in the warmest water recommended for these fabrics along with a mild baby detergent.

  • Before drying, check if stain has come out. If so, dry as usual.

  • If stain persists, soak in color-safe bleach for at least 30 minutes. Re-wash as noted above.


Let’s face it,baby pee can get on everything: the changing pad, baby’s clothes, your clothes, your bed, baby’s bed, etc. Everywhere! Not only can baby boys produce the proverbial “fountain of pee”, baby girls have been known to do their own version of projectile peeing. If your baby is leaking out of their diaper, or if you just can’t change that diaper fast enough, here’s the solution:

  • Rinse in cold water as soon as possible.

  • No need to apply a stain remover.

  • Wash as soon as possible in warm water with baby laundry detergent.

  • Check if stains are gone before drying.


Once your baby starts foods, there is a whole new world of mess and potential stains. I like to refer to a stain removal chart like the one here. Although this chart is not specifically geared for babies, it does address all the food items that you may encounter in baby’s first year.

What about the projectile poop that gets on the wall?

Simply wash it off with a disposable cloth or sponge using warm water and a little dish soap.

Each stage of your baby’s life brings it’s own unique messes to tackle. This is only the beginning of your journey with your (messy) baby.

Now snuggle into that sweet smelling baby before he nails you with his next “explosion”.


Sheryl Cooksley is a Certified Postpartum Doula and a professionally trained Infant Care Specialist. Her real “messy baby” experience comes from raising 4 children and fostering over 25 others, including a dozen babies. She is the owner of Family Tree Doula Services serving new parents in and around Portland, Oregon.