Stool Collection Guidelines

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2 stool specimen cups

Your child’s poop (stool) must be tested so we can plan the treatment for your child. You will need to collect some stool (a specimen) at home, then bring it to a Nationwide Children's Hospital Laboratory Service Center.

You Will Need

Parent using a toilet hat for stool collection
  • The right container(s) for the test(s) ordered (examples shown in Picture 1). Not all tests use the same containers. 
  • A tongue depressor or plastic spoon
  • For an older child, a toilet hat (Picture 2) or plastic wrap
  • A label to put on the container
  • Disposable exam gloves (optional)

Label the Specimen

  • Child’s full legal name – full first and last names correctly spelled
  • One of the following unique identifiers:
    • Date of Birth or
    • Patient’s ID or
    • Nationwide Children's Hospital medical record number
      Do steps 1 and 2 before starting the collection.
  • Date of sample collection (MM/DD/YYYY) - write this after the collection. 
  • Time of sample collection (include a.m. or p.m.) - write this after the collection.

Nationwide Children's Clinics may give you an EPIC registration label to put on the container(s).

Collect the Specimen

Collect the specimen even if your child has loose, runny stools or diarrhea. 

Wash your hands before and after handling your child's stool. Stool can contain germs that spread infection. Disposable gloves may be used, if desired.

For the test to be accurate:

  • There should be no creams or ointments on your child's bottom. However, if your child has diaper rash, it is okay to use cornstarch, petroleum jelly (Vaseline®), or Resinol®. These products will not affect the test. 
  • The stool must not mix with pee (urine).
  • Do not collect the stool from the toilet.


Take the stool out of the diaper. If your child has loose or runny stools, put the plastic side of the diaper next to the skin. Leave the diaper on this way just long enough to collect enough stool.  


If your toddler is toilet trained, you can use a clean, dry training potty, training pants, or a diaper to collect the stool. 

Older Children

  • Use a clean, dry toilet hat to collect stools (Picture 2). Place the toilet hat on the back rim of the toilet bowl, just under the toilet seat.
  • If using plastic wrap, loosely drape a long section of plastic wrap over the rim on both sides of the toilet bowl. The stool can drop onto the dip in the plastic. 

Prepare the Specimen

  1. Before you put stool into the specimen container, see pages 4 and 5 to know the exact amount, timing, and other special instructions for the type of test.Stool sample on a plastic spoon or wooden tongue depressor
  2. Check the label to be sure that it has your child's full legal name, and date of birth, patient ID number, or medical record number. Then, write the date and time of the collection. Please note, the specimen will not be tested if the patient's name and at least one other patient identifier are not on the label. 
  3. Use a wooden tongue depressor (Picture 3) or a plastic spoon to place the right amount of stool into the specimen container for the test ordered.
  4. Secure the lid on the container(s), then place them in a resealable bag.
  5. Throw the tongue depressor or plastic spoon away.
  6. Bring the stool specimen to a Laboratory Service Center as soon as possible. If you cannot bring it right away, some specimens may need to be refrigerated or frozen.

If you are collecting specimens for more than one child:

  • Wash your hands before getting stools from each child.
  • Make sure the label on each container is filled out completely.
  • Put all of each child's specimens in a separate resealable bag.

Drop-off Options

For business hours and locations, please call Laboratory Services at (800) 934-6575 or visit

During the day, drop the specimen off at:

  • Any Laboratory Service Center or Nationwide Children's Close To Home™ Center.
  • Nationwide Children's Orange Laboratory located at 555 S. 18th Street, Columbus, Ohio 43205.

In the evening:

  • Nationwide Children's Hospital Admitting Department on main campus.

Please do not drop off stool specimens at the Emergency Department.

For questions, call Laboratory Services at (800) 934-6575 or your health care provider.

Stool Collection Chart 

Stool collection guidelines

Stool collection guidelines

For more information regarding test availability or specimen requirements, please call (800) 934-6575 or visit

Stool Collection Guidelines (PDF),

HH-III-141 | ©2016, revised 10/2022 Nationwide Children’s Hospital