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Stealth pooping: 4 ways to deal with your stealth pooper

Stealth pooping 4 ways to deal with your stealth pooper

This is a guest post from Samantha Veitch, our certified coach serving Nevada City and surrounding areas. Enjoy! xx Andrea

My EC journey with my first born has been an incredible ride. We’ve had many successes, lots of learning, and we’ve gone through a few potty pauses and come through the other side. However, we still struggle in one department.

One of the ‘easy’ catches, as taught by Andrea, has never been an easy catch for us, and that is poop. My son is now 14 months old and I am now finally coming to terms with the fact that I have a stealth pooper.

This is a good realization to have because I am no longer:

  1. beating myself up for missing signals that aren’t there and
  2. comparing my little one with babies who are obvious poopers or do not like sitting in their own poop.

My baby does not mind sitting in his own poop. They come out quick, so even if there is a small grunt involved, the poop is out before I can say ‘POTTY!” Rather than get angry and pull my hair out or just throw in the towel (I’m stubborn like that), I decided to go back to the basics, get crafty, and start listening to my intuition.

4 poop catching strategies

Here are my top 4 strategies for dealing with a “stealth pooper,” otherwise known as a baby who doesn’t signal or isn’t obvious when pooping. (You can also check out this blog post for dealing with a baby who doesn’t signal in general.)

  1. Use Natural Timing. What I mean by “going back to the basics” is spending time observing. For me this was paying attention to natural timing for poops. How often was he going and when? I did a few days of logging his poop times and natural timing after eating and waking, which is step one of learning the basics when you first start EC. You can download this log to try it for yourself. This was useful and showed me that he was actually kind of regular. What was creating all the irregularity was the erratic bedtime, meal times, and nap times! That leads me to the next important strategy….
Get in a schedule Stealth pooping 4 ways to deal with your stealth pooper
  1. Get on a Schedule. I realized that when we stuck to a routine, catching poops was a lot easier. When he was eating at the same time each day, his bowel movements would get on on a schedule, too! In the last few months he has been transitioning from 2 naps a day to 1 nap a day, which has been tricky to plan for, and it’s meant bedtime could be anywhere between 7pm and 9pm. This in turn affected his waking time, his first poop time, his eating time, etc.

    However, I feel we are on the brink of completing the transition and so NOW we are seeing the fruit of having somewhat of a routine in terms of naps and meals AND poops!

    Right now he needs to poop when he wakes. This is an easy catch as I just have to wait, all the pee happens, and then, more often than not, a big poop follows. Also with the one nap the 2nd poop comes right after the nap, and so, again, it’s a pee catch with some added patience needed to catch the 2nd poop - so easy! - we’re catching that nap wake-up pee anyway right?! And then he has a before-bed poop at around 7pm 80% of the time.

    With this nap transition, meal times for us all have become more structured, as we find it easier to make one meal for everyone. Keeping to a schedule for meal times is a little un-flow for us parents as we have always tended to eat at different times BUT we can actually see the benefit for us too, eating and preparing food before we are ravenous, with the added benefit of becoming more regular ourselves!

    To learn more about setting up your own age-dependent eating and sleep schedule I recommend the baby sleep site which is so very useful in providing an outline to build your day around - they have plenty of free resources to explore.

  2. Use Sign Language. We have been delving into baby sign language for the past 6 months and one of his first signs was ‘all done’, a cute little twisty hand gesture. He loves telling us ‘all done’ after eating. I started to ask if he was done when taking him to go potty and it’s been super useful for catching poops. It’s actually not so much when he tells us ‘all done’ that’s useful (because sometimes he is in fact not ‘all done’) BUT when he DOESN’T sign - then I know he has a poop coming and I can practice being patient and giving some extra time.

    I am learning baby signing from Lane at Tinysigns who has some great printouts, a couple of books and a full course to get you started. Once they start picking up a few signs, which can take a little while, it makes pre-verbal communication so much easier - great for EC and pottying!
Surrender Stealth pooping 4 ways to deal with your stealth pooper
  1. Surrender. Of course when implementing all of this we still get caught up. Sometimes it’s papa not being patient, sometimes it’s an extra surprise poop, and sometimes our whole napping and feeding schedule gets turned around by some event or another. Our full transition to training pants has somewhat slowed down and we still have to clean cloth diapers (when we thought we wouldn’t be doing that anymore). Poop happens. And that’s ok. We are not perfect, our journey is full of ups and downs, and EC is a continual learning process. Just like life itself. What is important is that learning is happening, teaching is happening, and of course, nothing lasts forever - especially with babies.

So, I’m learning to ‘let go,’ laugh, and enjoy the poop at a time.

Can you relate? I’d love to hear from others who’ve also dealt with a stealth pooper. How did you navigate this and keep sane? Comment below!

P.S. here's the video version of this episode in case you prefer to Youtube it. ;)

samantha veitch

About samantha veitch

Samantha Veitch is a plant-based Maiden to Mother mentor, Ayurdoula, and a certified Go Diaper Free coach. She is fascinated with studying intact, earth-based cultures regarding childcare, ceremony, ritual, and women's health. She is dedicated to sustainable living and works with eco-conscious folk who want to eat more plants for the planet, parents who want to learn the tribal way of potty training, and mamas who want to tend deeply to their own health and healing.


  1. Avatar Hannah on September 1, 2020 at 6:25 am

    Oh my word! This is 100% my son. I could literally be sitting right in front of him watching his face and not realize he’d pooped until I checked. And he could easily go a week without pooping, giving me virtually no practice at reading his (lack of) cues. He’s definitely easier to read (and more much regular) now that he’s on solids, but still, catching poops has been a major frustration that I always felt should have been “easy”. Knowing that other people struggle with the same issues inspires me to get back into EC more intentionally again. I shall try to work on his schedule and log poop times. Thanks!

    • Avatar Samantha Veitch on September 1, 2020 at 5:55 pm

      Hey Hannah,
      I always envied those with much less poop to deal with! But gosh, yes that must make it really challenging with figuring out timing. Yes, get logging and see what you discover! I love this community for the sharing that happens- we’re all doing the best we can and many are struggling with EXACTLY the same issues- so we can be more candid for sure then perhaps we are in the wider world with people who dont get what we are doing, lol.

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on September 3, 2020 at 4:31 pm

      Hi Hannah! I’m so glad this post inspired you to refocus on your EC practice. Have fun with it! xx Andrea

  2. Avatar Victoria Wilkes on September 1, 2020 at 8:30 am

    Long comment alert! :)

    I was so excited to see this because my son has become a sneaky pooper and it can be extremely frustrating! From 3 months to 9 months he and I were in sync and I caught almost every single poop and very rarely had to wash any poopy cloth diapers. Right at 9 months old my son went through the classic potty pause that Andrea mentions happens often at this age. He has also been teething a ton, exploding developmentally, we came back from a family vacation etc. Lots of contributing factors. He suddenly started stealth pooping in his pants every. Single. Time. 4-6 times a day I was cleaning dirty diapers and getting more and more frustrated. He is 11 months now so I have been learning how to work with his new potty resistance/sneaky poops for 2 months now and we are finally making progress! I caught one in the potty just five minutes ago. :). Below are things that have helped me:

    Remembering that this will pass and he will eventually go in the potty again

    Rereading Go Diaper Free’s sections on potty pauses

    Putting my relationship with my son above success with the potty

    Staying consistent with EC in any ways I can

    Doing the all-done potty signal as mentioned in this episode

    This is a big one – switching to disposable diapers temporarily. Cleaning 4-6 dirty diapers a day was maddening and was making me impatient and resentful of my son – NOT good. It was hard on my pride but I decided to switch to cheap disposables and see if that helped me calm down. It did! Since switching 2 weeks ago I have relaxed so much (just throw the poop away and go on with my day) and have stayed consistent with EC and am now catching a couple poops a day and many more pees than before! He frequently stays dry for a period of time now and I can reuse the diaper. I am going to switch back to cloth once I feel it’s time.

    Thank you for the podcast episode! I’m encouraged to keep on keeping on!

    • Avatar Samantha Veitch on September 1, 2020 at 6:09 pm

      Hi Victoria,
      I’m so glad we have these resources so at least we can know what we are experiencing is NORMAL!
      Sounds like you’ve worked out what works for you and what you needed in make sure you kept on with EC which is awesome!
      Thanks for sharing what’s helped you!

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on September 3, 2020 at 4:32 pm

      Yay for staying the course Victoria! You are rocking it!! Switching your back up was a great idea. Thank you so much for sharing your story! xx Andrea

  3. Avatar Sarah on September 1, 2020 at 9:43 am

    My superquick-pooping, stealth-pooping daughter is almost 2 now, did EC from day 1, completed with a potty training experience at 17 months…which sounds fine and all, but those extremely fast stealth poops made me want to bang my head against the wall the whole time. Maddening. She never stopped stealth pooping and never signalled consistently, but I got better at predicting and being proactive before a poop. I agree with Samantha about her 4 tips, all of which I also implemented. Surrender and getting back to basics helped me a lot.

    • Avatar Samantha Veitch on September 1, 2020 at 7:46 pm

      Hi Sarah,

      Sounds like our situations are/were VERY similar! I’m looking forward to being able to do our potty training experience as I don’t see an easy simple wrap up in our future either, lol.
      Thanks for sharing your experience!

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on September 3, 2020 at 4:34 pm

      Hi Sarah! Congratulations on being diaper free!! It sounds like you did an awesome job on your EC journey. Thank you for sharing. xx Andrea

  4. Avatar Leslie Bol on September 1, 2020 at 11:47 am

    Yes we have a stealth pooper too! We’ve recently switched to solids and it seems our little one is a morning pooper rather consistently in terms of time of day but not whether it happens every day. I’ll see if I can figure out timing a bit better to get some catches!

    • Avatar Samantha Veitch on September 1, 2020 at 6:14 pm

      Hi Leslie,

      Oh yes it all changes when food comes into play!! Morning pooper can make things a little easier though, Good luck with figuring out his timing!

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on September 3, 2020 at 4:35 pm

      Hi Leslie! Solids will definitely change things up, hopefully for the better. Working on timing is a great idea. xx Andrea

  5. Avatar Chandler on September 1, 2020 at 12:36 pm

    Yep. Stealth pooper here. He’s 19th months old now, and we ditched our cloth diapers forever almost exactly 1 month ago, when we did a potty training experience. He’s now pretty much completely day-trained for pees, but poops continue to be an enigma. Our poop struggles revolve around a stealth-pooping trifecta, actually:

    1. Total stealth-pooper: super fast, super quiet. IF there’s any grunt, it’s too quick for me to catch. I’ve caught exactly 4 poops in his entire life, and 3 of them were in the first days of potty training.

    2. He poops standing up, and only standing up.

    3. He waits to poop until his naps (or sometimes overnight), when he is alone in his crib and I am not there. He still has 2 naps a day, and this works well for us all. I once tried to interrupt a nap to catch a stealth nap poop, and it was a disaster. He didn’t want go back down, and my normally even-keel boy simply screamed and screamed for HOURS after that, no matter what I did. Never again! The nap schedule is sacrosanct around here.

    I love the tips in this post, but right now #4 is really the key for us.. #1 helped me figure out that he didn’t really *need* to poop when I kept putting him on the potty to encourage it. #2 was a given from the beginning; he’s been on a schedule since he was 3 weeks old, and it works SO WELL for us—I totally second the recommendation. #3 (signs) we never needed, because my son is astonishingly verbal—he started using words at 10 months, and now has zero problem making himself understood and telling us exactly what’s going on.

    So I’m all about #4 right now. I put him in tiny undies for a nap (tiny trainers at bedtime), let him poop away in those undies, and we clean up when it’s potty time after the nap. I’m not willing to disrupt the schedule just to try to catch a poop (work-at-home mom here, who can only work while he’s sleeping), so I’m riding it out until this phase passes. Surrender all the way.

    “This, too, shall pass” is my mantra these days, but I’m also trying to count my blessings that we have made it on pee training! That’s a huge accomplishment—I know that someday we’ll figure out the stealth pooping, too.

    • Avatar Samantha Veitch on September 1, 2020 at 7:56 pm

      Hey Chandler,

      Thanks for sharing! Amazing work with catching those pees! It’s funny how that’s seen as a harder milestone when for some of us it’s the opposite!

      I actually would love to hear Andrea’s take on the stealth naptime pooping. It sounds like it might be when he’s most relaxed he poops? Perhaps potty time needs some singing and or other soothing accompaniment?? Hang in there and as you say ‘this too, shall pass’ …

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on September 3, 2020 at 4:38 pm

      Hi Chandler! If you want to work on the nap pooping there are a few things you can try. Of course offering the potty before and after nap so he can make use of those opportunities. Then I would actually try naked bottom or commando, it gives better awareness.

      You are so right, it won’t last forever! xx Andrea

  6. Avatar Kathryn on September 2, 2020 at 12:48 pm

    I have a stealth pooper!!! He’s almost 11 months and does not signal for poops! He lets me know immediately AFTER, but never before. And I’ve tried the patience thing. I pretty usually know when one is on the way, but once he’s done peeing, he wants off the potty. He will not hang out and wait for the poo! And he fights to get away. It’s not worth the struggle to me, so I let him go and usually it’s just a few minutes later before he’s coming to me with undies full of 💩! And he’s no where near a space where I can leave him on his potty. If I’m not holding him or right behind him, he’s not sitting for anything!

    Just this morning! I KNEW he had to go. He’s already wet his undies and I had him on the potty. He was having none of that. I rinsed him off and set him down to wet a washcloth and grab clean undies, before I turned the water off he’d already walked across the room and was squatting on the bedroom floor!! Not much came out, so I quick grabbed him and got him on potty again, got one little nugget and then he fought me again. So threw him in the shower to hose off and kind of hoped he’d finished in there (he’s never actually pooped in the shower with the water running).

    I don’t know what to do because I know when he needs to go (not because he’s signaling necessarily, but I just know) but he won’t sit on the potty!

    • Avatar samantha veitch on September 2, 2020 at 3:34 pm

      Hey Kathryn,

      Ug thats so frustrating, when you KNOW but can’t get them to sit!
      i wander have you tried another receptacle? Changing out the potty for a seat reducer? my little one wont sit on a potty for long either (although i do find him practicing to mount it, usually backward, lol) but he will sit longer on a seat reducer. I haven”t quite worked up the courage to walk away and trust he wont throw himself which is what Andrea advises (apparently if they do that’s the last time they do!). Also a special potty toy that he doesn’t usually have access to might be an idea to gain a little more time?
      best of luck with it, sounds like he’s a little independent one and he’s asking for more autonomy which is completely normal for the age he’s at, you got this!

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on September 3, 2020 at 4:40 pm

      Hi Kathryn! It’s not uncommon to see some potty resistance at this age. You can try changing his back up, if undies aren’t working try commando or even a diaper (if you are still using them at all). Standing him in the shower is a great idea, keep trying that. It’s a step in the right direction. xx Andrea

  7. Avatar Shayla Nebblett on September 3, 2020 at 2:59 pm

    Definitely have a stealth pooper here! Started EC at 13 months and he caught on very very quickly with pees but I could never catch a poop until I did some significant naked time, but he refused to sit on the potty when I would transfer him mid-way through his elimination. So I ended up taking him outside during the times when I knew he needed to go, and that worked fine. He’s been in undies for a month now and hardly has any misses. However, fall and cold weather is coming upon us where we live, and going outside is no longer going to be practical. (He still refuses to sit down on the potty to go pee or poo, and I will often lift the potty and have him pee in it, or will have him go in a plastic cup) But I still don’t know exactly how I’m going to get him to poo in the potty instead of outside where he is now used to going… I’ve been working on it the last couple days, even with a seat reducer with not much success. But I really think just patience, patience, patience, and practice, practice, practice will be key. He’s a very smart almost 15 month old. He’ll certainly get it eventually….

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on September 3, 2020 at 4:42 pm

      Hi Shayla! You are doing an awesome job working through this. You might try putting the potty outside, see if you can get him to use outdoors. Then you can move it indoors, maybe with a view of outside? xx Andrea

    • Avatar samantha on September 3, 2020 at 11:33 pm

      Hey Shayla,

      Oh yes I like Andreas suggestion with taking the potty outside- something that worked for us was holding him over the potty in the sink , then the floor and then transitioning to holding him on it over a few days so it didn’t feel like such a leap so you could hold him over the potty outside and gradually lower down :) and I’m sure once it gets really cold the inside pottying will feel more appealing to him too! best of luck!

  8. Avatar Judy on September 7, 2020 at 11:18 pm

    Oh man, stealth pooping has been such a big issue for my little one, now 19 months old. She was pretty much poop trained at 7 months when my older daughter was suddenly diagnosed with a brain tumor and we were in hospital full time with her for about a month. Needless to say, EC went VERY part-time and even when I was “on” I wasn’t super consistent (exhausted, a bit shell-shocked, and totally focused on other daughter). Anyway, I thought that we’d get back on track with EC, and we did, with everything except poops.

    Once fully on solids my baby got very constipated. She still often is, and I can’t seem to get her on a regimen that will keep her regular. She LOVES veggies, eats tons of fruit and I put ground flax seed in her yogurt every day. We do eat a lot of cheese, and I know that’s very constipating; I’m guessing that’s partly the problem, but I’m not sure how to fix that as we struggle with protein sources (older daughter is VERY picky, and cheese is basically her only protein source at the moment). Anyway, any further ideas about the constipation would be welcome.

    She has stealth pooped ever since about 8 months, and even manages to be stealthy when she’s constipated. She’ll often wait until her nap time, when I won’t be watching her, to do her poop, and then of course wakes with a very itchy and sore bum.

    I am in the midst of doing a potty training experience with her, albeit will have to be modified because I am homeschooling older sister and I can’t be 100% on with potty training all day. Hubby is on board, but working full time, and not very involved with EC, and gets very nervous about leaving baby naked. ;-P And of course, there’s the nap pooping, don’t know what to do about that.

    ANY ideas you have for me would be so much appreciated! Thank you for your wonderful podcast!!

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on September 12, 2020 at 5:22 pm

      Hi Judy, First off I am so sorry your daughter was so ill, I hope she is doing well now. This post has a lot of great ideas on how to help with constipation. Since you are potty training, you might just have to ditch the nap diaper completely. Once it is no longer an option she will start to progress with pooping on the potty. I know it’s a big step, but it will do the trick. xx Andrea

    • Avatar Samantha Veitch on September 20, 2020 at 9:11 pm

      Hey Judy,
      Yes check out the article Andrea links for constipation. I just wanted to add something about protein sources. We are fully plantbased so have had to be really on top of this and the things my little one loves the most is beans and tempeh. Tempeh can go in everything and you can get a flax seed version which is really good. Almond yoghurt, chickpeas, chickpea pasta all go down well too.
      I would say with the PT experience to try and dedicate as much time as possible for the first few days as this really will give you the most success. Maybe you and hubby could do shifts? ;)
      I’m sure you’ll find your rhythm again. Blessings to your whole family!

      • Avatar Judy R Haasdyk on November 20, 2020 at 5:26 pm

        Hi, it’s me again! Removing diapers at nap time worked! But only for pooping at naptime. Now she just poops any other time. AAaaaaargh.

        We took her out of diapers around 14 months, and saw improvement until 18 months. I thought we had “made it”, but there hasn’t been any improvement since 18 months, which was 3 months ago now. Once in a while, I’ll catch a couple poops in a row and start to feel like we’ve turned the corner, but then she’ll go right back to having misses all day long, including pees. Pees are less often a problem, but poops are a big issue.

        Her older sister has issues with functional constipation from withholding, but she is autistic. Little One doesn’t show any other signs of being autistic, but I think she is withholding her poop. Every poop seems traumatic. She used to show me as soon as she’d have a miss, I’d run her to the potty to see if there was anything more to catch, and then she’d help me clean up. Now she hides and cries when I find it and clean her up. She really resists the potty for poops, although she is doing pretty well with pees.

        I have kept a relaxed attitude around EC from day one, we started soon after birth with part-time EC, and were consistent except for the month or so that big sister was in the hospital. She struggled with constipation around 1 year of age, and it took us a while to figure out what would work for her (she didn’t like prunes or mangos or a lot of other things with fiber, but we finally landed on flax seed in yogurt, dried fruit cut up small, and lots of steamed veg). Constipation is now under control, but she is very resistant, acts extremely anxious around pooping, and will clench and hold if I bring her to the potty to poop.

        Please help!! I loved my EC journey until now. I so want this to work!

  9. Avatar Leslie on September 20, 2020 at 2:33 am

    Wow, popular topic! 20 month old, ec’d on and off since 10 mo. now goes into hiding to do his business. That’s the cue-he’ll literally run into the corner, or behind the curtain or under the table. Jamie says in OCPT that this is a good sign (yay) as there is an awareness of the associated privacy…. we’ve gone thru a makeover in the past couple of months getting away from an abusive spouse, living in hotel rooms, Airbnb’s and as of today a new apartment. I am a Single mom for now, curious as to how this will work with child exchanges in terms of continuity. Am going to do some naked time when the older one is in preschool or otherwise occupied. We went back to diapers when things got real bad and so need to regroup and refresh. my almost-ex said I had an obsessive compulsive disorder for seeking to potty train our child by 1. He in the past would sit on the sidelines for the most part

    • Avatar Samantha Veitch on September 20, 2020 at 10:48 pm

      Hey Leslie,
      Have you thought about doing the potty training experience? Seeing as hes 20 months it would be the right time and yes! Seeking privacy is a good developmental sign and a good signal too!!
      Best of luck with your new situation, it sounds like it’s been challenging so I hope you that the tide is turning.
      Best wishes,

    • Avatar Andrea Olson on September 26, 2020 at 4:54 pm

      Hi Leslie! It sounds like you have been through a lot. Congrats on your new place! I would suggest focusing on settling into your new life a bit. Once you have all settled in you can ditch diapers and start up with potty training. xx Andrea

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