16 answers

3 Year Old Taking off Diaper and Smearing Poop EVERYWHERE!

My 3 year old son (just turned 3 yesterday) has lately started taking off his poopy diaper during his naptime and smearing poop all over himself, his crib, and the wall. He even drops chunks onto the floor. We don't leave him in there for an usually long time. We respond by telling him we are upset with him, and then we discipline him. Has this every happened to anyone, and did you find a way to make your child stop? I am at my wits end because it takes about an hour to clean it up. I have to scrub the whole wall with a toothbrush to get in all the little grooves. HELP!!

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you all so very much for all your advice and help!! Well, I have to say I think, for right now, the best option for me was the duct tape. It worked!! I also love all your other suggestions. One thing that drove me to try the duct tape is that it was fast. I do believe in spending the time to do the "right thing" with kids. I realize that to be a good parent, you have to invest a lot of time and effort. But I have had 4 kids in 5 years, and some days it is all I can do just to get dinner on the table. I always joke with my friends about this, but SOME days I wear my husbands underwear, because I can't seem to stay on top of the laundry, and I have run out of my own undies!! So what I'm trying to say is that I loved all your opinions, but the quickest thing that worked is what's best right now, while I'm just playing defense and trying to put out fires. Some of you mentioned to get him a big boy bed. We have been wanting to do that for quite some time, but we just don't have the money right now to buy any furniture. Many of you mentioned it is time to start potty training. I guess I should have put in my original request that he IS starting to train. It is just a slow process. I do keep the kid toilet handy, and we try to use it as often as possible. So thank you thank you all very very much!! I really appreciate it!!!! ~ A. Marie

Featured Answers

He's just ready to start polly training don't worry to much it will get better. So i suggest you start shopping for a trainning sit.

Until he grows out of this phase the best advice I can give is to put him down for his nap in clothing he can't get out of and get to the diaper. Like overalls, or a onesie.

More Answers

First off, if the discipline you're doing isn't changing the behavior, I'd try something else. Have you tried giving him instruction on what he should do when he poops? Instead of telling him NOT to do something (like 'don't take your diaper off') try telling him what to DO, and maybe even give him some options: Very matter-of-factly say "This poopy stuff is soooo messy and it's making me tired to clean it up. Can you help me think of a way to keep the room clean at nap time?" Offer him some choices (choices that you are fine with), then let him respond after each choice is offered: "There are two ways to do this, I'll let you pick which way we handle it -- Some kids sit on a potty and put their poop in it before nap time, how does that sound to you?" Then maybe the other choice is, "Some kids go in their diaper, then tell their mommy what happened like this 'HEY MOMMY, I NEED A DIAPER!' then mommy comes in and takes the dirty diaper away and gives you a nice clean one...how does that sound to you?"
A lot of times kids this age will act out and get you riled up simply because they are searching for something to have control over. No matter what you do, he can control his poop and where it goes at nap time as long as he's left to his own business in a crib. And as long as you get ticked about it, he's satisfied that he has control over the situation. Maybe a move towards "big boy" independence will get his mind on something besides his diaper.

Also, at 3, it would seem he's ready for a "big boy bed," which would simply be another gain in independence for him.

If he still does it after making his choice, etc., then you need a consequence. One consequence might be that you don't let him take a nap. Tell him it's just too much trouble to clean the mess, so he won't be able to nap until you are certain there won't be a mess. Maybe put him in a playpen in the same room as you, maybe there's a room or office near where you'll be where you can use a baby gate to help him stay put while you keep an eye on him.
Another consequence might be that you stay in his room with him so he doesn't have any privacy. Explain that you can't trust him to keep things clean, so you'll just keep an eye on him for a while. Drag a chair in his room, or into the doorway of his room, prop up your feet and read a book or magazine.
You may have to make arrangements for your other kids in the house during this time for a couple days (in our experience it takes about 3 days to break kids' bad habits). Older kids should get a kick out of helping with your scheme, and maybe keep watch a few minutes to give you breaks if you need to step away for housework or the bathroom.

1 mom found this helpful

This did happen to us when my daughter was younger than 3. I bought some of the pj's that zipped up from the toes to the neck and we would put her in those before nap time. Then, she just out grew this stage.
I feel for you!!! I know how disappointing it is to walk into the bedroom when that has happened!!!

My 22 month old started taking her diaper off during naps when she was 18 months old. I tried putting her in PJ's with zippers, but she figured out how to unzip her clothes. I finally talked to the doctor and he said to use duct tape (sp?). You have to buy some of those special scissors to cut the tape off with after naps so that you will not cute him. I am not sure where to buy them, but most doctors office have them. They should be able to tell you how to purchase some. Another suggestion is put him in zipper pj's and cut the feet off turn the pj's around so they zip from the back. We never tried that, but a friend of mine did and it seemed to work. Good luck I know how fustrating this can be :)!

My son did the exact same thing around 2-2 1/2yrs of age. We had to put him to bed at night with a blanket sleeper on backwards and then a pin in it so the zipper wouldnt go down. During the day, he wore a pullup and we still would put a blanket sleeper on him backwards during naptime. The doctor also said that this was a sign that he may be ready to get potty trained. You can discipline him until you are blue in the face, but I truly believe he is ready to start potty training...Good Luck.

Until he grows out of this phase the best advice I can give is to put him down for his nap in clothing he can't get out of and get to the diaper. Like overalls, or a onesie.

I hate to say it, but it may be time for both potty training, and giving up nap time, or at least cutting it short. He is old enough for a big bed, and to be shown how to handle things like this. Honestly, I would make him do most of the clean up!! 3 year olds are bigger than we want to give them credit for!! I like Maggies ideas, and would honestly just tell him that because he has done this, there will be no more diapers, he needs to go in the potty. It is not about a battle of wills, it is just about putting your foot down, and teaching him that you mean it. I have heard people do the duct tape thing, but he is old enough to use the potty. You might even have to leave him naked, or just covered up with a longer t shirt for a few days, and always in your sight, but it can be done. Maybe if he starts going potty, and stops this behavior, you could reward him with a bid bed and let him pick out a new pillow, or bedding, just to show him that you see how grown up he is! I hope that you get his taken care of quickly for your sake, and honestly, if you cant break the behavior, it might be time to seek a pediatricians advice, and maybe even some outside help. Good luck ~A.~

I'd try pinning his clothing closed AFTER you've buttoned it backwards, just to be safe, lol, just in case he IS houdini

If he is pooping at nap time, maybe you should try and put him down a little later and see if he will poop before he naps. I liked the duct tape idea....hahahehehe. I do Childcare in my home and have never had one do that. Have you tried taking away a toy that he likes and telling him that he doesn't get it for a day because of the bad choice that he made(putting poop everywhere). Let me know what you get to work....in case I have one of mine start doing it.

My daughter started doing this at two. It means he's ready for potty training. With my daughter I just started leaving the potty in her room all the time. She's three now and goes in there all the time (yea). I thought I would go crazy when she started doing that it's one of the worst things to have to clean up eeew. Hope this helps! :)

My little man has done this twice in two weeks. It is very frustrating and usually happens in the morning when he wakes up. MOST of the time he runs out of his room and climbs in our bed if we're not already awake. It never fails...when this happens he just sits in his room, so we have made a point of setting the alarm before 7am on the weekends just to prevent this from happening. So far, so good. We're also potty training - but that's another topic. Good luck!

Its potty training time!!! If he can do that, he can potty train! My son did kind of a similar thing when he was potty training, I made him help clean it up though, that was the end of that! Good luck.


Time to start potty training. And also...make HIM clean it up. It may take ya'll 2 hours, but make HIM do it. That will cure that problem fast.

i once heard to buy a full sleeper, cut off the feet and tags, and put it on backwards. If he gets out of that,you have a houdini!

He's just ready to start polly training don't worry to much it will get better. So i suggest you start shopping for a trainning sit.

Uh! I so know what you are going through!!! My heart goes to you. My son has been doing the same thing this past month and I am so sick and tired of cleaning up poop! I had to give him a bath every time and then he started saying "Bath!" when he pooped.

To help with this, I stopped giving him juice. Now he only drinks water. His poo is not as messy and so he doesn't play with it. And I go into his room right after he wakes up because usually he poops right after he wakes up, either in the morning or after his nap.

Hang in there!

Though our son did this without spreading poop and he was a little bit younger, we used duct tape all around the top. He couldn't undo it and after some time he forgot all about it. We would buy a bundle of it a Sam's. :) Could this be a sign of readiness for potty training?
I think so.
Tell him to sit on the potty before nap time and keep the potty available for him to use during the day. I put my portable potty in the den so he could just pull down his underoos and go by himself. It worked great and now he is using the "big" potty in the bathroom.
Don't they just keep us on our toes?

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