The Dirt on Kids Playing With Their Poop

Filed under: Babies, Toddlers Preschoolers, Potty Training

Poop happens. Credit: Getty Images

When it comes to kids playing with poop, we've got two words for you: It happens.

And it's also pretty normal, says Michelle LaRowe, author of "Nanny to the Rescue! Straight Talk and Super Tips for Parenting in the Early Years." A mom herself, LaRowe was the 2004 International Nanny Association Nanny of the Year, and she says it all comes down to curiosity.

"
They are explorers," LaRowe says. "To them, it's not playing with poop. They have no concept of 'it's dirty' or socially unacceptable to do."

The good news: This behavior generally is limited to infants and toddlers.

"It certainly is not indicative of any deep-seated or underlying psychological disorder in infants and toddlers," says Dr. Andy Clark, a pediatrician at an urgent care facility in North Dallas and pediatrics expert at JustAnswer.com. Past that age group, Clark says parents should be concerned, but its "exceedingly rare."

Tips on putting an end to it:

1. Don't get emotional. "Address poop play in as nonemotional a tone as possible," LaRowe says. "A simple 'We don't play with poop, we put it in the potty' will be more effective then yelling and screaming at the child. The bigger the reaction, the more likely he is to do it again."

2. Change their diapers frequently.
A child who is uncomfortable in a messy diaper is more likely to remove the diaper -- and find the poop.

3. Add extra tape to the diaper to keep it in place.
Clark says a backward diaper can also thwart a particularly curious tot. A sleep sack or footed pajamas can help with kids who tackle the diaper during naptime.

4. Keep them occupied.
"When their hands are busy exploring a toy, they're less likely to explore their diaper," LaRowe says.

5. Make them help with clean up. "From putting dirty clothes in the hamper to washing his bum in the bath, let him experience the clean-up process," LaRowe says. "In doing so, he may be discouraged from playing again."

6. When nothing else works, time will. "I assure you they will outgrow this disgusting, but quite normal, period of artistic expression pretty quickly," Clark says.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.