Wiping after using the Potty

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Poop stains in underwear - not wiping well at school

April 2010

Our daughter is in kindergarten and often I find poop stains in her underwear. I have spent time with her on etiquette for wiping well and good hygiene but since I am not around her during the day and get home at dinnertime from work, I can't see her habits during the day. I know often she just is busy playing and doesn't want to take the time to wipe. But it is frustrating and she should be well past this point, plus I notice an odor time to time when I read at night to her (she bathes every other day). I have threatened her with pull ups and she gets hysterical. But she keeps having these stains and they won't come out in the wash. I am so upset and don't want her to keep up this habit and don't know when she will realize how dirty and gross this is (now that she is school aged). I also don't want her to get teased by kids that she smells, etc. Help! sad momma

My daughter is in second grade and she still doesn't always wipe well. I know she DOES wipe, and it's getting better, but it's still not 100%. (Maybe 95% now.) I would not put your daughter in pull-ups. Can you wash her bottom area on the nights she doesn't take a bath? If she does smell during the day from not wiping, maybe the peer pressure that's sure to come will help. I wouldn't worry about the stains on her underwear--just wash it the best you can and if your daughter complains about the stains, explain to her she has to do a better job of wiping. (It's gross but I wash my daughter's underwear by hand when this happens, mostly because our housekeeper would be grossed out.) in the same boat

Your daughter may have encopresis, a condition where the child is actually constipated and has overflow poops around the impaction which they have no control of (and often no knowledge of either). Please talk to your pediatrician and please try not to be too hard on your daughter-- parental frustration, altho totally understandable, only makes a difficult situation worse. Definitely treatable though. pediatrician mom

Have u tried wet wipes from cottenelle? These are flushable and are a lot easier on kids. Sometimes it is not that they don't wipe properly it could be other factors too. I am not trying to gross anyone, but think about consistency (constipation) etc. I have a son who is 3 and is somewhat chubby in that area and I have found it a lot easier in training him with cottonelle. I still have to help him but it is easier with cottonelle. I recently found some individually wrapped (travel size I guess) cottonelle too that may be handy to take to school. I am no spokesperson for this brand. You may find some other kind that works better too. Anon

My son is in kindergarten, and he's just starting to wipe himself after he poops. He is quite valiant in his efforts to do a good job, but he's not quite fully coordinated yet with the whole project. Unlike your daughter, he only poops at home, so there's an adult available for poop cleaning assistance. In your case, I recommend patience, nightly bathing, and a lighthearted attitude towards throwing away yucky underwear. You might want to stick to Target-type cheap undies for a while, and just assume that you'll go through them somewhat frequently. Alternatively, you could do the bleach thing. My experience is that kids don't try to walk around with poop in their underwear on purpose, so she'll get better at wiping herself over time. anon

I don't know from your post if you are talking about a streak or about a lot left in the pants. Are you having constipation issues at the same time? Do you notice that she doesn't have a bm at least every other day? The reason I ask is that maybe it's a matter of her not wiping well, in which case you spend time at home working on a way that works, but something else could be going on. It was for us. We spent way too much time being angry about not wiping, and after a couple years, it turned out that not wiping was the least of our issues. Our kid was holding his poop and because of this, he wasn't having regular bowel movements and occasionally (every day, really, sometimes several times), a little would slide out into his underpants either to relieve the pressure or because he couldn't hold it in any more, a little would come out.

It was a bad time for us; I had many of the same worries as you about kids teasing. Anyway, after struggling with it for way too long, and having it really consume my relationship with my son, I finally sought professional help. Not only did it help my son establish new potty habits, but it ended the power struggle we had going on, leaving me room to support his efforts instead of punishing when he failed. I recommend you look at your daughter's toileting behavior and figure out if it really is a matter of not wiping or if there might be something else at play. We got some really great help that changed everything for us and for our son who now has healthy toilet habits and completely clean underwear. He's still in a rush when he's in the bathroom, but hasn't had an accident for more than 6 months. Children's Oakland has a special clinic attached to their pediatric urology department that you can look into, if you decide that you need some help. Good luck! Anon

Kindergarten is a huge transition for kids. I think you are being too harsh about the underwear stains. Be grateful your daughter will poop at school. My son still won't poop at school and holds it all day.

My advice; buy the flusable wipes. They work wonders on getting all the poop. They really helped my son become completely independent on this issue sometime during the summer between K and first grade; something just clicked (on many levels).

As far at washing the undies, I put a little liquid hand soap on the area and hand scrub them briefly; most if not all the stain comes out. I then wash them in the washing machine as usual. Try to be calm when showing your daughter how to wipe and get the flusable wipes. You won't need to use them for long. She'll get the hang of it soon! anon

I would say try to relax a little and not turn this into a battle of wills with your daughter. Wipe her off with a wet-wipe on non-bath nights so she's not too stinky, and buy a bunch of cheap underwear at Target--if it gets stained beyond repair, throw it away. Over time, through a combination of increased skill and social pressure, she will get better at keeping herself clean.

She is in kindergarten! It is really hard to balance up on the toilet when your feet cannot touch the ground for starters. It is even harder to balance up on the toilet AND reach around behind you and not even wipe. And it is even harder to balance up on the toilet AND reach around behind you with a small fistful of toilet paper WHILE swabbing around in a place you cannot see, trying to clean up something you really don't want to touch. It is a lot! And now throw in that thing you already mentioned... just want to go back to play... already spent enough darn time dealing with pooping let alone wiping! Just keep having the hygiene talk in a nice way. You could tell her about UTI's and how much they hurt (getting one is what helped my daughter get better about wiping well... but she is almost 8 and still has an occasional skid-mark). Use OxyClean if you are worried about the stains. And don't worry about her being teased. My guess is she is not the only one with wiping issues. anon

Poop stains are a big drag, but they seem to be part of having a kid. My 11 year old still occasionally has them and I've given talk after talk about how to wipe one's butt - we've laughed, we've cried over it -- and he just doesn't quite get it yet. Buy cheap underwear from Target, keep giving the lecture, praise her when things seem to go well, but don't shame her over it or threaten pull-ups. It must be harder to wipe your butt than we grown-ups with clean butts can understand. I know I don't get it! Also, consider having her take a bath/shower every day. It surely gets better eventually. anon

Son starting kindergarten soon, does a horrible job wiping

August 2006

Our son is entering Kindergarten in just a couple of weeks and is still not wiping himself after a bowel movement. He will try to do it but does a horrible job, ending up with a mess on his hands, the toilet, etc. I don't know if he has particularly soft bowel movements, but it often takes us a couple of wipes to get him clean. Any advice is much appreciated as he will be on his own soon :(
Thanks! Worried Mom

We are doing this now too - getting him to wipe well enough that he can do a decent job at kindergarten in (yikes) 3 weeks! What I find is that I need to be very specific about each step of wiping, every little detail, and then very consistently go through the steps with him as he wipes after every poop. I don't help him, I don't check afterwards, I don't follow up with a wet wipe. But I do walk him through it every time. This takes willpower and patience from the mom, and he would rather I wiped (I WOULD do a better job!) but he wasn't feeling very confident so I had to take a step back. He's getting better and better.

Here's what I tell him:

First: lean forward with your feet touching the floor. Don't lean back - it smushes all over the bum and makes a big mess.

1. How much toilet paper? I tell him to unroll till it's about halfway to the floor. I tried having him count squares but that didn't work. You don't want too much or too little.
2. Make a ''pad'' - you really have to show them how to wad or fold or however you do it. He was making a hard little ball of toilet paper so I had to show him how to make it into a loose pad.
3. How to hold the pad (thumb bent in front, holding the pad, other fingers outstretched supporting the pad from behind.)
4. How to wipe: one swipe starting at top and going down.
5. After the wipe, keep the pad low (but not touching the water in the toilet!) and peer down through your legs into the toilet to see how it looks. Need to wipe again? OK - get another pad.
6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 till the pad comes clean.
7. Now flush!
8. Wash hands

Hope that works! One less chore for Mom

Teaching a young child how to wipe properly requires very specific and explicit instructions. For example, the length of one ''wipe'' of TP should be about the length of the child's arm.

Tell the child to crumple it into a loose ball (emphasis on loose). One loose ball of TP is good for one single wipe only before being discarded. A new arms length loose ball of TP for must be used on each wipe. Tell him to look at the TP after wiping, and help him understand that wiping is finished only when the paper is clean.

We all know how to wipe, but it is a ''skill'' that must be explicitly taught to young children. Otherwise, a child may get a length of paper that is too short or not crumple it properly, or maybe not crumple at all and then it dips into the potty. My daughter was making a mess, and I realized that she was re-wiping with the same piece. Also, re-enforce the after-potty hand washing. It needs to be a real habit by the time he starts school.

I hear you loud and clear. I think this is a pretty common problem. My son still likes help in the bathroom, and I've been called into action with his friends, too. When they do wipe, it's not a very good job. I once talked with a mother of four about this, and she said she thinks that kids aren't really good at it until they are about nine. (Maybe she was exagerating?) Anyway, what we did in our family was to start to talk about when our son would be ready to do it all himself. We picked an age together, and as the day approached, I bought him a KanDoo flushable wipes and soap set. I showed it to him, and said he could open when he was ready to start wiping all by himself.

Well, that day is now about six months past, and I'd say he wipes himself about 80% of the time. I don't insist on that other 20%, and figure that by the time he's six he'll be doing it all by himself.
anonomous, please!

I have the same issue so I'm glad you asked. What I did find out is that the teachers may help your child at school. My son will be able to change his poo-ing times to make sure he goes at home and yours may too. So, it might not be a worry -Sorry I didn't answer your question.

2.9 year old starting preschool, refuses to wipe herself

August 2006

My 2.9 year old starts preschool in 2 weeks. She is totally potty trained (during the day) and hasn't had an accident in months. However, she completely resists wiping her own bottom and pulling up her underwear when she's done using the potty. I know she is physically capable of doing it, but totally refuses to do it when asked. If I stand firm and tell her she needs to do it by herself, she will sit on the potty for a really long time until I finally give in and help her (we're talking 20 minutes). It is weird because she is very independent and loves doing everything ''by myself.'' She has no problem washing her own hands, for example. I am concerned about getting her to do finish the job on the potty, as the preschool has told me that the teachers do not like having to help the kids wipe, etc. Any advice would be appreciated.
potty mom

A 2.9 yr old should not be counted on to wipe herself. If she does, an adult should make sure it is done right and carefullly supervise the hand washing. It is too bad the preschool teachers don't ''like'' to do this. To me, that conveys alot of poor judgement and lack of child development understanding about this preschool.
noboby 'likes' it

I have a clear memory of being in my little preschool bathroom and calling ''wipe!'' to the teachers. I would have been 3 or 4. That's NORMAL and I've never even heard of a 2 year old who could wipe themselves! Sounds like a bad attitude from the teacher.
potty trained long ago

5-year-old has a rash - not wiping her bottom well?

May 2006

My 5 year old has a frequent reddened area in her labia and around her anus (similar to diaper rash). It generally does not cause any discomfort, but we still do baths 3 nights a week so that she can soak well. Is this caused by not wiping well after urine or poop? She is not the best wiper and sometimes forgets after peeing. Should we be doing more baths or are 3 times a week OK? When do you start doing showers with kids - is there a ''normal'' age limit to stopping baths?

If you have shown her how to wipe properly, as in front to back, and she still needs help, I think you need to be in there ''checking'' after each bathroom trip. I also recommend the personal wipes; we keep a box at each toilet for our kids.

You might also consider that she has some food sensitivity. Redness around the anus is one symptom. Does it stay consistently red or does it come and go?

You might try putting something like baking soda in the bathwater (check to see what is recommended for yeast infections too). I don't have my copy with me, but Doris Rapp's book ''Is this my/Your Child?'' is a great resource for food sensitivities.

Kids are never too young for showers, you just have to make sure they are safe from slipping, and that they are washing and rinsing properly.

Good luck, shannon

One thing you might check on is whether it's actually a yeast infection. Yes, kids this young do get them (my 5 year old son does, especially since he still wears a pull-up). If your daughter often leaves the area wet after urination, this could exacerbate it. The key symptom I check for is whether the reddened area looks swollen or raised, compared with the non-reddened skin next to it. If it is indeed yeast, then you will need medication. Check with her doctor

The redness may be a symptom of a yeast infection. Does it occur after she has had antibiotics or eaten a lot of sugary stuff? Does it itch or bother her? You could do a search on ''The Yeast Connection'' and see if she has any other symptoms of a yeast overgrowth. HTH, Erin

I would say that the rash is probably not from poor hygiene- have the Doc take a look. It is probably a yeast or fungal infection and needs the right treatment to get rid of it Mom whose son had a fungal infection

Please take her to her pediatrician or nurse practitioner. It is important that she be examined. As difficult as this may be, sexual abuse should be considered when evaluating her signs and symptoms. Take care, Kathy

My daughter also 5 has the same thing. We need to put diaper cream several times a week. She gets a bath every day and I bought for her a special soap made for woman's private parts. I talk to her doctor about that, she said it's very common, it's a fungus!!!!.... She told me not to use a cloth in the bath to wash her and to give her yogurt. It's not a matter of being clean or not. I give my daugther yogurt with acidophilus and bifidus to regulate her. We are doing much better. And when I know that she is going to skip the bath, I put diaper cream as a prevention before any problem. Good luck C.

It sounds like you should still be helping your child learn to wipe, esp. after pooping. As for showers, my daughter has been taking them with me (mom) since she was 4 or 5 and she loves them. We have a handheld/adjustable height shower head which helps, but is not necessary. (You can also buy and install them yourself quite easily.) I don't know when kids can be expected to wipe well completely independently, but it doesn't seem to be by age 6 in this house.
--still wiping

Our 5-year-old refuses to wipe - wants us to do it

May 2006

When can you expect a child to wipe herself after having a bowel movement? Our 5 year old refuses to even try, though she has been toilet-trained for at least two years & I am getting really tired of it!

We've had great luck in encouraging wiping by buying 'toddler wipes,' sold next to disposable diapers and baby wipes. Not very ecological, I know, but the kids have loved having special big kid wipes, and after a few weeks of exciting wipe use, they switched to regular TP and we haven't bought any more wipes. A word of warning though, we had flushed them down the toilet against our better judgement because the package claimed we could do so, and had to have a plumber come snake the toilet bc they clogged the pipes and we had sewage coming out of our bathtub drain.
parent of happy TP users

Having worked with potty training parents and thier children for over 20 years, I've found that indeed some 5 year olds balk at cleaning themselves and some younger ones embrace the task (but still need help to do it well). Perhaps you can create a potty time game with a doll the child can clean (use washable ink and a wipe on the doll so the child gets the concept of cleaning away all the ''poo''). Have wet wipes, rather than just dry toilet paper, handy for the child to use. Encourage the child to wipe themselves and let them know that you will check them and do any final bits that need doing. Gradually, you'll find that you need to do less and less ''clean up''. I assume your child is in school. Ask the teacher how she copes when away from her ''personal groomer'' - you! Chances are she doesn't yell for the teacher to wipe her! Best of luck~ Trained quite a few over the years

My husband got tired of wiping our daughter when she turned 4 (about 10 mos ago). I noticed that even though she's old enough, it was hard for her to ''get a good angle'' and do a good job. She also didn't want to go at preschool and held it until she came home. So we bought some flushable wipes, and started with she tries first, then we'll wipe after with regular TP. We encouraged her with alot of praises when she did a really good job at it. then she wanted her preschool to have the wipes (they let us bring some). Now she does it fine on her own. A

Front-to-back wiping is hard to do for 4-year-old girls

Oct 2003

I know that everyone recommends the front to back wiping for little girls, but it is virtually impossible to do, especially for a 4 yr old. Does anyone have a technique that works, or does one just wait for indepence in this arena until girls reach 5? anon

Our pediatrician recommended helping our child wipe after poops until he's seven (or before if he demonstrates ability.) So, four seems too young by far.
Signed, don't want ''undie rash'

I don't recall this being a problem. Just reach from behind. I think she stood up to do this (didn't do it sitting on the toilet)
mom of daughter

6-year-old forgets to wipe after poop

Oct 2003

I didnt see anything on this specific topic in the archives. My 6 year old forgets to wipe after a poop about half the time. (gross, I know). I'm not so worried about ''Is he normal?'' because I already know he is distracted fellow and he just forgets. He appreciates when I remind him, but obviously I'm not always present. Anyone else find a successful way of dealing with a forgetful toilet- er? Some system to help him remind himself? Thanks!
Mom of Mr Forgetful

Our pediatrician recommended helping our child wipe after poops until he's seven (or before if he demonstrates ability.) Sounds like he still needs your help. Best of luck.