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Gross! My Toddler Plays With His Poop!

by Dawn on August 6, 2009
category: 1 – 3 year (toddler),Children’s Health,Practical Tips

onesie Earlier this week, Christy shared ideas for helping our little ones and their constipation.  I thought I’d follow that up with my child’s polar-opposite issue: plentiful poop and the yearning to play with it!

My son is two, and the discovery of his feces is nothing out of the ordinary for a child his age.  About 3 months ago, it happened for the first time: I’d go into his room to get him up from his afternoon nap only to find him sitting there, somewhat happily, in the middle of a poop-smeared crib.  Poop everywhere: on the sheets, the pillows, the stuffed animals, the railings, his hands, feet, legs, and fingernails.  Mm, mmm, and it smelled good, too.

My daughter had gone through this fecal-phase briefly as well; hers lasted for two or three days.  I expected my son’s fascination to pass just as quickly (no pun intended).  However, it soon became a routine for him.  There was one week wherein I had to disinfect every inch of his room three consecutive days.  Don’t forget the baths and scrubbing of the tub each time as well.

Our solution then was to put pajama pants on our boy every time he goes to bed, even when it’s hot.  (The a/c has to be turned down a little more every afternoon at naptime as a result.)  We still do this on a daily basis.  The pants deter him from digging.  Occasionally, I forget to put the pants on, or I think he might not need them anymore.   And those are the same occasions when I realize PANTS ARE NECESSARY.  FOR THE LOVE OF LYSOL, PUT THE BOY’S PANTS ON!!  Will I never learn?  :)

What To Expect the Toddler Years was my first stop for information.  Many of their suggestions were things we’d already instituted, including

  • fastening diapers securely so access to the goods is limited or impossible
  • recognizing patterns in bowel movements in order to predict and circumvent future occurrences
  • providing the child with healthy and better-smelling tactile play activities (like dough, finger paint, sand, etc.)

Out of curiosity, I Googled this topic, and started with the words “kids who play…”  All kinds of responses were listed in the drop-down window, and I was amused to find that “kids who play with poop” is just sixth on the list.  The search led me to Babycenter.com’s Q & A on toddler poop-playing, and the solution with the highest success rate is to give the toddler a brief cold shower after the poop-cident.  Although it seems a bit extreme, I can see how a desperate parent would want to find an effective consequence for a child who is passionate about playing with his or her BM’s.

What do you think, Mom Crowd?  Have you faced this issue?  What worked for you and your child?  And do any of you have coupons for Febreeze?  I sure go through a lot of it!

photo courtesy mrsmecomber

21 Responses to Gross! My Toddler Plays With His Poop!

  • Comment by Christy
    August 7, 2009 @ 6:39 am

    I’m so sorry! I actually laughed a little because I used to babysit a friend of mine’s little boy when he was a toddler. She brought him over one day telling me of their nightmarish weekend at the grandparents where baby Jack smeared his poop all over the crib, wall, and himself. I knew he had a tendency to wake himself up from nap pooping, so everyday I feared what I would open MY bedroom door to find! (keep in mind, I was pregnant and VERY sensitive at the time!) They struggled with it at home for almost a year!!! He finally outgrew it. I hope your little one does too Dawn! I can’t imagine!

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    Comment by Stephanie Guinn
    August 7, 2009 @ 8:12 am

    We did have issues with one of my kids. One day when I got home from work, I found my child in the kitchen with poo all over the kitchen as well as all over my child. The worst part was when my child smiled at me and had poo in their teeth! We finally resorted to duct taping the diapers on and the diaper finally stayed on till the next diaper change. As my mom always tells me, “this too shall pass”.

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    Comment by Heidi
    August 7, 2009 @ 8:28 am

    My daughter just did this for the 1st time yesterday when I went to pick her up after her nap. I was mortified and upset! Hopefully this incident will not be repeated or else I will try the cold shower method.

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    Comment by Melissa
    August 7, 2009 @ 4:33 pm

    I guess now you’re the “Poop Culture” correspondent. :)

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    Comment by Amy
    August 7, 2009 @ 9:49 pm

    Oh no! I don’t remember this with our first!
    But our littlest is just one… we’ll see.

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    Comment by Jenn
    August 8, 2009 @ 3:02 pm

    No poop play as yet. Just the amazing diaper escaping baby at this stage. We do little pj bottoms at all times for naps or sleeping. I have come in to a nekkid baby and soaking bedding too many times.

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    Comment by Natasha
    August 14, 2009 @ 12:02 pm

    Well, I really feel for you Dawn. I too have an issue with my 3 year old son. And honestly it’s only sounds funny, but in reality it is a serious issue, especially when it happens over and over again.
    We started to potty train my son 3 months ago, by now he is doing his pee with no difficulty and even gets up overnight to pee. The problem with him is that he is very independent and tries to do everything himself. Poop issue was going on for a month now. He either constipated or he waits till he is alone, poops, takes it and….I don’t think he is playing with it, he is trying to hide it…. Of course his hands and clothes got dirty, so he wipes it onto everything he can find, I also think when he drops it, he tries to clean the floor as well. Recently he saw my mom washing the floor with water, so he now pees (the only water he can find) on it to wipe the floor with his T-shirt. He is very resoursful boy.
    I understand that it sounds very funny…. but I’m honestly at the verge of desperation. I tried to talk to him in a firm voice and now he is afraid of pooping at all and when it happens he tries to hide it even harder, because he realises that it’s something bad…
    Honestly I have no idea what to do… Ducktaping his diper would not help as he has no diper now. And even if I put one onto him, it somewhat ruins our previous achivment with him getting rid of the diper alltogether…
    If anybody would have any ideas, please advise…
    Thank you ahead,

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    Comment by Trish
    August 20, 2009 @ 10:12 pm

    My 20 month old son does the same thing and it is driving me crazy. It doesn’t matter what clothes I put on him or how tight we put his diaper on- he seems to get in there.
    I feel for you and wish you the best of luck!

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    Comment by Cindy
    September 5, 2009 @ 8:41 am

    Alright. Well my 17 month old son started this faze about 2 months ago. He would reach down his pants or up his shorts to get to his poop almost instantly after he went. He even figured out how to take the diaper off at one point. We would go threw the “”shower”" idea, duct taping his diaper and I even bought him some paints to see if that helped. Turns our my son loved taking showers to matter how cold it was. I finally went to the store and bought about 10 pairs of those one piece, long legged pajamas. (The kind the button up) My son couldnt reach up them because they had feet on them and he could reach back behind his diaper because it was a one piece. He doesnt know how to unbutton things yet so it has stoped. We still let him paint tho because im sure he is curious still about how things feel. There were times when I felt like I was going to SNAP. What I want all of you moms to know is that this is not strange, this is perfectly normal and although it is gross, most of the time your child is NOT doing it to be gross or ecen know its wrong. They are just being kids and exploring. Try not to yell and scream and scare them or give them “angry showers”. If your mad take a step back for a second and breath and remember. We are all going threw this too. :) Hope it helps.

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    Comment by K
    September 11, 2009 @ 1:22 pm

    I work for DCS and the cold shower is very close to being considered child abuse.

  • Comment by Sharon M
    September 12, 2009 @ 2:01 am

    @K – Really? Child abuse? This is probably a topic for another time, but maybe the term needs to be redefined. The CDC defines it as “any act (or series of acts) by a caregiver that results in harm, potential for harm, or threat of harm to a child” (emphasis mine). So, here is my question to you: How in the world do you distinguish between discipline, training and actual abuse, since any physical manifestation of correcting misdeeds might be construed as “abuse to a child”? I don’t want to downplay the realities of child abuse and the cruelty of it. But where do you draw the line?

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    Comment by Heidi
    September 19, 2009 @ 12:50 pm

    My son is 3 year and will take off his pull-up, diaper and underwear during Nap time and take his Poop and smear it all of the carpet and wall windows etc and laugh about it. I dont know what to do wear try treats, potty chair and his room, duck taping his diaper close more and he can get that off. He needs a nap or he is a bear about 4 o clock. This is been going on for 6 months and I really dont know what to do anymore.. He is doing better with potty training.. Help Me…

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    Comment by izzy
    October 9, 2009 @ 11:41 pm

    Oh my god I thought my son was some kinda of freak or something I had never heard of a child doing something like this before. My sons has been doing this for about 3 months now he is 27 months. I thought I was going to die the first time he did this I was horrified. The worst part is he shares a room with my 16 month old son and the last time I found him doing this his little brother was eating it ewwww…. I tried the pants,shorts,one piece pjs, none of it has work for me he can un button,zip, or take off any article of cloting I put on him. Duct tape wouldn’t work for him he doesn’t even take the diaper off. I have no clue what else to do.

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    Comment by exhausted mom
    October 25, 2009 @ 12:02 pm

    My son started doing this at about 18 months old… He is no longer in a crip because at 13 months he started crawling out. (Yes we were using a brand new very high quality crib) Now, at 21 months old we have a new baby in the house and he still continues to smear his poop all over his room 1-6 times a week. Sometimes more than once a day. We have tried puting Pajama bottoms on him… he takes them off. We have tried doing the zip up pajamas… he takes them off. We tried potty training and obviously with a new baby coming home he regressed. We have no clue what to do next. We dont give him any positive or negative attention when he does this. We just put him in the tub, clean him up, clean up his room and put him right back in his room. We are now at a loss for what to do.

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    Comment by jessica
    October 31, 2009 @ 12:59 pm

    i am going threw this same issue with my 21 month old son and it is driving me crazy. i am expecting and i am hoping that i don’t have to go threw this again. i need new ways to help keep his diaper on and keep the poop from being every where.

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    Comment by sydney
    January 5, 2012 @ 11:26 pm

    eweweweweeeeeeeeeewwwww!!!!yesterday my 4 yr old reached into his pants took out a log of poop,took a bite, and said”yumyum, mommy put on peanut butter”…..i said no… i put him in the cold shower and he screamed and called me a “stupid bitch”!!!!!i asked him where he knew that word and he said”my friend told me.” i told the teacher and she will not let that boy come to school….thank goodness

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    Comment by Gloria
    April 27, 2012 @ 1:01 pm

    My son is 18 months old and he also has been playing in his poop. Its been going on for about 2 months now. I was completely lost and mortified the first time he did it. He had it all over himself, in his mouth, the curtains, his walls and of course on every inch of his crib. The only thing that I have found that keeps him from taking his diapers off during his naps is cutting the feet out of his sleepers and putting them on backwards. I was a little upset about having to ruin all of his sleepers but after a week of not having to clean up that horrible mess, I have regained my sanity and could care less about the sleepers.

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    Comment by SMurray
    August 1, 2012 @ 11:45 pm

    Our 2.5 yo son is a very determined poop player. No diaper/pant/onesie was working and daycare and grandma weren’t amused either. For us, we’re in the middle of potty training, do he doesn’t want the diaper on at night or naptime. But at nap he’ll occasionally poop, then smears it everywhere.

    Our solution is footsie pajamas with the feet cut off and put on backwards. He’s gotten out of everything else, but not this!

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    Comment by Leslie Siegel
    October 9, 2012 @ 4:42 pm

    Hello, my sister did that when she was a young baby, she would poop then play with it, digging in her diapers and laughing and drawing shapes on the walls with it. It was not gross to me at the time, just the nanny, who chastised her and made her fear water and nannies from then on, dogs too, but that was my mom’s fault by telling us very clearly that dogs were poison, and not to pet them or we would be sick in our beds. We believed it as much as mom did. And my sister had a time of it being RE POTTY TRAINED which was a B…h. Poor younger sister finally got re trained by the counselors and director at the summer camp our parents sent us too. I was lucky because my nanny was a trained L.N. nurse and trained me correctly. No problems. But sis, well it’s in my mind.

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    Comment by LOUISE
    October 28, 2012 @ 4:14 pm


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    Comment by Kai
    December 10, 2012 @ 3:00 pm

    I would never personally give my son a “COLD” shower, but I give him a lukewarm bath. No bubbles, no toys, and a good scrubbing. While cleaning, I tell him how nasty his poop is and that its not ok to play with. I have been going through this DAILY, sometimes twice a day for months. He’s 18 months old. Every time he poops, he digs it out and smears it on the bed. For awhile, putting his diaper on backwards worked… Until he found out that the crotch area, by the thigh, stretches out nicely (UGH!). After weeks of lukewarm, bubble and toyless baths, stern talks and having him help me scrub the poo (holding his hand, telling him “its nasty. See how hard it is to clean it up? Playing with your poop is not ok.”), he FINALLY responded (kindof) last night. Around midnight, he woke up and I heard him shouting, “Mama! Mama! MAAAMAAA, natty! NATTY! Uh oh!” (natty means “nasty” lol) and I walked in to his room to find him holding a turd. No smearing, but still. It wasn’t a TOTAL win, but it was progress. My boyfriend (not his biological father) is just as frustrated as I am, which is undertandable. We both agree that maybe its time to introduce a kiddie potty. However, I have no clue how to do this. He doesn’t tell me when he’s dirty (except last night) or give me a sign that he has to go potty or poopy. First time mommy, confused and needing input. Hope that maybe this helps someone else in my position! I know its very frustrating (who just loooves cleaning smeared poop!?), and it… Well, it SUCKS, but it IS a phase. Keep doing what I do. TELL YOURSELF IT WILL PASS! Haha.

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