Monday, June 8, 2009

The Quick Sniff-Sniff

Dogs do this to each other when they first meet, as a way of saying "hello" I suppose.

Parents (especially those with babies) do this frequently, too, but for a different reason.

(If you see anyone else doing this, I'd start to worry.)

I'm talking about the quick sniff-sniff of the behind. You know, the "did you poop?" check, where the parent raises the baby up with both arms to get a direct whiff of the diaper area.

Sometimes, if the result of the "did you poop?" check is equivocal, then the child is passed (often across a table) to the other parent for a second opinion.

If the second "did you poop?" check is equivocal, then the gold-standard is to pull-back the pants and diaper (resulting in a wedgie somewhere) for direct visualization. (Even this technique is subject to an occasional missed dirty diaper.)

As you may know, we're expecting our third child.

This is one aspect of parenthood that always makes me chuckle.
(I'm sorry that the conversation has degraded to the topic of poop. Just ask my extended family. I think it's a function of having small children).

Fortunately, we're not the only parents who do this check, as Mom-E and I have witnessed countless other parents engaged in the same behavior, in public no less. (It's NOT quirky if other people do the same thing!)

I'm not really sure why parents (including myself) check for dirty diapers in this fashion.

Wouldn't it make more sense to just lay the baby down on the changing table (or substitute changing table--e.g., bench, floor, back of a large dog, etc.) and look?

Are we that afraid of being caught off-guard by a messy poopy diaper?

Or, are we just too tired to make another trip to the changing table or bathroom, and we somehow conserve time and energy by sniffing out false alarms?

What do we do if we have a cold and can't smell?

Maybe it's our preoccupation with strong smells (in both the good or bad direction)? I mean, if something smells horrible, the first thing we do is turn to the person next to us and say, "Hey, get a whiff of this!"

"That's terrible!"

"I know!"

"So why did you need me to confirm it?!?"

Just as we were starting to get out of that stage (although Little Brother is still inconsistent about telling us when his diaper is dirty), we'll being going right back there soon.

Oh, what fun things we have to look forward to. Time to tune-up the old sniffer.


Have a good week,


  1. LOL...we do this all the time. It never occurred to me that this could be viewed as weird or out of the ordinary. :)

    I have a very sensitive sniffer, so I can usually smell it without having to pick Peanut up. This is both good and bad...because the rule in our house is "whoever smells it first has to change it." 99% that is me.

  2. I think its b/c you're too tired to go to the changing table if there is no reason to. Plus, i hate when you open the diaper and there is like one drop of pee, so you feel like you have to change the diaper now that you've opened it. All of you parents know how expensive diapers are, so you hate to be wasteful. Yet, I always feel like if there is any pee, i'm obligated to change it. SO you can reduce that occurance by sniffing rather than checking! -Aunt-E

  3. This is perfectly normal parent behavior that saves the energy of making us leave our seat during a false alarm.
    What is weird is that my MIL has a different method (I found this out as I looked at her like she had 3 heads when Eldest was a baby). She sticks her index finger in the side of the 'gathers' around the butt. Yup. ewww! She said, "Just wait, you'll be doing this too" I responded, "no I won't" and never have.

  4. I agree with all of you on this issue. A sniff test is a quick first test. I like how you brought up the issue about what to do when you have a cold. Once, when Big Brother was very little, I took him to church by myself. It turns out that he spent most of the service in a dirty diaper because I had a cold and couldn't smell it. Poor baby and poor people sitting near us!

  5. I remember the sniff sniff test. I admit it, it was because I was usually too tired to get up and once again go to the changing table. As for sharing the smell, well I did this too, just to confirm I was really smelling that horrible odor. The dog is the only one in our house who still does the sniff sniff test. Then I usually yell at him to stop being gross. Inconsistent, I know.

  6. LOL, sounds like our house...

  7. LOL! Cute post. We do the same here too.