Poop All over the Crib

Updated on August 31, 2009
A.P. asks from Morrisville, PA
13 answers

Please help me--my toddler has turned into a nightmare the past few months. I should preface this by saying that there has been a lot of change in our house--I had baby #2 in mid-May, and my husband (who already works long hours) has returned to school, which means he's away every other weekend. So my son sees him for maybe an hour at night, and then every other weekend. The bad behaviors didn't start right away. But now, he's started yelling at me, pinching, hitting. I've tried time-outs. He has been resisting his naps, and wakes every night crying--my husband brings him into our bed. Some nights he talks in his sleep, and it is ALWAYS about me--shouting things like, "mommmy no!" in his sleep. He has tantrums, and screams for an hour every day when I try to get him to nap. He still needs to nap, and is terrible during the afternoons and evenings when he doesn't nap. So he cries for an hour, then I go get him. In recent days, he has been biting his bed during that time, and then complains that his teeth hurt. One day he ripped off his diaper and peed all over the bed. Today, he dug into his diaper and spread poop ALL over his bed. It was caked everywhere, and all over him. I just don't know what to do, or how to deal anymore. He can tell I'm not happy about it, yet he keeps asking for tv. I've told him "no tv tonight." Other than that, I don't know how to discipline him or what I should do about this or the nap issue--I feel like it's all one big power struggle. Help!

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answers from New York on

I would have to say at this point he needs more love and attention in addition to discipline. He's clearly acting out and based on the household stresses, I can understand. Interestingly enough my 2.5 is acting the same way - not quite as bad yet but I think its stress. 1) we have been weaning him from his binky and 2) My husband and I are stressed and I think he sees/feels it. I'm trying to reduce the stress and give him lots of love and attention.

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answers from New York on

Hi A.,

This must be so stressful for you. But I am sure you will work it out. Here are a few thoughts:

This doesn't seem like a discipline issue to me. It seems like a connection issue. I ditto what Amy says about napping together. I also ditto what Amy says about you getting some extra rest...

I think it may help to find some ways to connect with your toddler one-on-one. I know, much easier said than done with a three month old. I think he needs extra cuddles, high-gives, and good-jobs throughout the day when you find him doing something good. Physical contact is so important- can you hop in the bath together, play chasing and hide and seek games? pick him up for a quick hug? tell him how beautiful he is? ruffle his hair? Tickle him... etc? sprinkled throughout the day? And whenever possible- and you may need to pull in some help to watch baby #2 spend some together time... at the park or riding his tricycle, or whatever he loves to do most. Another idea is to make up a simple "secret" ritual that is only for the two of you... maybe create a secret word or hand squeeze that means "I Love You."
There are two great parenting resources I really trust: mothering.com and parentalwisdom.com. Both have forums where you can ask experts in different fields for direction. Good luck, please let us know how you progress.


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answers from Lafayette on

I am so sorry you had to deal with that today. The poop thing drives me insane.

I think you're right - your little guy has been going through a lot with Dad gone so much and the new baby. I found that sibling rivalry didn't really start until the new baby could do stuff - which is the age you're getting to now. Before that they're no more invasive than a stuffed animal most of the time, but once they start needing attention Look Out!

I think you should try napping together (all three of you). #1 - it sounds like you've got a lot on your plate, and you could use more rest, which you'd get if you napped with the kids. #2 - it might encourage your toddler to nap more/better/easier/til a later age than he would if he napped alone (my 2.5 year old is giving up her nap, and only takes it every third day or so, so sad!). #3 - if you're right there in the bed with him, you can prevent the gross behaviors you're seeing.

Also, get some one-piece clothes (overalls) that he can't get out of by himself, and put him in them until he quits with the diaper-taking-off!

Finally, please be sure you're using time outs correctly. I wrote about it at my blog:


Actually, I started the blog in May of 07, when my oldest was 21 months and my youngest was 2 months. You should poke around - there might be other stuff there that will help. I wrote a LOT about having "two under two."

Good luck, hang in there, and stock up on Lysol! :)

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answers from New York on

He wants attention. All he has is you right now and you spend time with that screaming little interloper into his world. I would plop him into his high chair and face it into a corner or wall where he cant see you. Leave him there till he stops screaming. Then when he is being good, tell him how proud you are of him, what a good job he is doing, what a big boy he is and give him lots of hugs and pats on his head or back. Catch him doing good and give him attention. Lots of it. When you are feeding the baby, talk to him, read him a book if you can manage. Sit next to him on the couch and have him turn the pages for you.
Since the baby cant understand what you say, blame her for his naps. Tell him its quiet time because baby has to sleep, she gets so cranky if she doesnt sleep. So big brother has to be quiet and sleep too. He doesnt want her to cry,right?
When daddy is home on weekends take your son for a walk, park or something while dad takes care of the baby.
In addition he is old enough to learn about the potty, if he is old enough to pee all over his crib. That means he is aware of his bodily functions. get a potty and have dad introduce it to him the weekend he is home.



answers from Rochester on


You have the no TV part right - and that will help you in the future. It is a negative influence, no matter how well you try to keep your son's viewing limited.

Most of all, I can tell you: pick him up. Hug him. 2.5 is too young to grasp the meaning of time out. My opinion, but then in my opinion, spanking a child simply tells them they are being hurt, not that they are getting the 'lesson' their parents think they should 'get' by this age.

Stop. Drop to his level. Roll around with him and play with him. Even if it is only 5 minutes - it will matter to him. He will of course want more, but include him on duties with your youngest.

Remind him he has a sister, and that she is someone to cherish. Let him help you - even if it is something simple.

There is a whole lot more I could give you but I have my own little guy here waiting for me.

Keep the attention on the negatives minimal or nil, and the attention on the positives loud, fun and caring.

good luck,



answers from New York on

Hi A.,
Dressing him in a onsie and overalls should keep him from exploring what is in his diaper (esp if you can do the overalls backwards) - many toddlers get their poop from their diaper and smear it.
As for the behavioral issues, I would make sure that since Dh is not around very much, that you hire a sitter, doula, mother's helper or get a family member in to help you - if you can pass the baby off to someone else for an hour a day to just spend time with your son, it would be great. Also, make sure that he catches you putting him first - if the baby starts fussing, say "You have to wait a minute, I'm helping/reading a book to/getting juice for your brother" - so that HE realizes that the baby has been made to wait for him.
Good luck!



answers from New York on

Wow, that's a hard situation. I just want to say hang in there!



answers from New York on

This sounds like a very stressful situation. It seems like attn seeking behavior. Assuming your husband is not able to find a way to spend more time with his family (which may help matters), then together you need to find another solution. If a toddler/preschool program is available, you should explore that-even an AM program could provide a stiumulating and even educational exp for him that may help. If that's not an option, then perhaps finding a mothers helper who can spend a few hrs in the morning with you both so that either they can help entertain him or can help with the infant so that you have more time with him. No matter what you try, it might take some time and lots of positive reinforcement to see better behavior. Good luck!



answers from New York on

Hi A.,
I have a 26 month old son and am expecting baby #2 in November, so reading this scared me to death! My son is a total Momma's boy and I'm terrified about how he's going to handle a new attention-grabber in the house. My husband travels weekly for business so it's really me that deals with everything....*sigh*

Anyway, I don't really have any advice, I just wanted to say hang in there. It sounds like an awfully stressful situation. I wish I could help in some way! Keep us posted on any progress you make.

Take care,
PS- I agree with getting some part-time help or enrolling him in a child's program. My son is starting nursery school in 2 weeks and I think that will help him tremendously once the baby arrives.



answers from New York on

We had a much milder situation when baby #2 was born, but my son (who was 34 months at the time) turned pretty vicious toward me (and me only, so no support from others as they figured it was my problem!). I was bruised all over, from the bites especially. Add to that my own sleep-deprivation, soreness, and hormones and we had the perfect storm.

The best little thing that we did was establish 2 15-minute blocks each day, one after breakfast and one right before dinner -- in the morning block I got down on the floor with him and said "What do you want to play?" and we did what he wanted. In the afternoon block we did a sticker craft -- the same craft every day, same time, same place. My husband watched the baby during the evening block, the baby was asleep during the morning one or I called a friend to stop by for 15 minutes. So it was full one-on-one time, one time just to see what he wanted to do (in other words, accepting and loving him just the way he was) and the afternoon was pure structure (babies destroy routine, so this gave a dose of stability to his world).

Not a magic bullet, but it helped at least some. Then throughout the day I'd remind him of those times -- "Your red car sure went fast. I like playing cars with you." Or at night, "What will we play tomorrow?"

I recommend the book "the portable pediatrician." It is really down-to-earth and reminds us what kids need psychologically and developmentally from birth to age 5 -- having one 30-page chapter per stage really helped me cope and was where I got the 15-minute idea.

I see below someone mentioning reading together -- there's a book called "I'm the big brother" (I think it's $4 from amazon... our library has it too) and that was GREAT.

Good luck. Let your older one know he's still the apple of your eye.



answers from New York on

I recently completed a basic intensive week in Choice Theory and Reality Theory. If you are interested in a book, check out Peaceful Parenting. If you have no reading time (sounds like you may not), I would say that he is looking to get his love and belonging/attention needs met, and just needs an appropriate way of getting that attention. Do you have any fdamily, or friends, that are willing to help you out, to free up time that you (and/or you husband) could spend with him? It sounds tough, I work a few jobs and have a 2 year old, and I am guilty of letting him crawl in to bed with me just so I can spend time with him (even if he is sleeping). He just started daycare again (I teach so I am home all summer) and he is starting to act out too. Let me know if you find some good strategies, and good luck!



answers from New York on

I am sorry to hear you are going through this. I do have a comment about the poop issue. When my son was about 2.5 he would poop in his sleep and I think it would bother him so a few times he would reach in his diaper and take it out. We'd go in the morning and find poop everywhere. I ended up putting him in a pull up with a bodysuit under his jammies and that did the trick.



answers from New York on

Oh my God!! I read this and I got flashbacks. I have a three year old son and a 9 month old daughter. When my daughter came home from the hospital we saw a side of my son that we NEVER saw before. He would scream for up to 2 hours at bed time. So loud, that you could hear him outside the house! He was acting out on a daily basis and always demanding that I "put baby down!!". He was having a very hard time accepting that he had to share our love with his new sister. He refused to hold her or even acknowledge her. He would pinch and push her. It was a very difficult time for us. Thankfully, around the time our daughter was about 3.5 months, my son finally began to be his old self again. We made a huge effort to give him tons of affection and tell him how much we loved him. He had special outings with daddy when just the 2 of them went out for pancakes. We cuddled and I read him books about having a new sibling. It worked. but those 3.5 months felt like an eternity. I feel your pain. Hang in there. It may be harder because you have less support from your husband, but eventually your toddler will adjust and accept his new sibling. When my son finally hugged my daughter I cried. I ran for my camera to capture the moment and it is my favorite picture of them. It was the FIRST time in 3 months that he agreed to hold her or show her any love. Give him time and he'll come around.

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