Friday, October 21, 2011

When kids need to go potty on a hike

Use a trowel to dig a cathole.
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.
Kids usually have to go potty at the most inconvenient times. Having the older, potty-trained children go before leaving on the hike can help the cause, but you still should be prepared for them to need to do No. 1 and No. 2 in the wilds.

Bring extra diapers for infants and toddlers. When they go, you’ll want to change them right away or they’ll get uncomfortable in the baby carrier, leading to a lot of shifting of weight on your back. In addition, during cold weather, a wet diaper can contribute to hypothermia.

Following the dictum of “minimize damage to your surroundings,” scrape pooh off the diaper and bury it in a cathole. Pack out the diaper, though. You’ll find a re-sealable plastic bag useful here.

For older kids, children, dig catholes. They should be about six inches deep. Cover the hole with dirt when done. Make sure the hole is about a football field’s distance from any water source to avoid contaminating it. Pack out toilet paper and wet wipes, otherwise animals will dig them up, leaving trails and woods strewn with feces-covered paper and wipes.

Some children will harbor a fear of such open air toilets. Don’t put down the child as a “baby.” Talk about their fear and show how no one can see them. Reassure them that you will make sure nothing happens to them and that no one watches. Remind them of those times when they overcame their fears.

Read more about day hiking with children in my guidebook Hikes with Tykes.