Why Is My 3 Year Old Playing With Her Poop

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Why is My 3 Year Old Playing with Her Poop?

As a parent, it’s not uncommon to stumble upon unusual and sometimes perplexing behaviors in your young children. One such behavior that can leave you scratching your head is when they start playing with their poop. While this may seem like a gross and unhygienic habit, it’s important to understand that it’s a relatively common occurrence and is often a sign of normal development.

Playing with poop, also known as coprophagia, is a behavior that typically emerges in toddlers between the ages of 1 and 3. It’s believed to be a way for children to explore their world and learn about their bodily functions. At this age, they are just starting to understand the concept of hygiene and may not yet realize that poop is a waste product that should be disposed of.

Why Do Toddlers Play with Poop?

There are several reasons why toddlers may engage in this behavior. Some of the most common include:

  • Curiosity and Exploration: Toddlers are naturally curious and eager to explore their surroundings. Poop is a novel and unfamiliar substance, and they may simply be trying to figure out what it is and what they can do with it.
  • Sensory Stimulation: Poop has a unique texture, smell, and taste. For some toddlers, playing with it can provide sensory stimulation that they find enjoyable.
  • Attention-Seeking Behavior: If a toddler is not getting enough attention from their parents or caregivers, they may resort to playing with poop as a way to get a reaction. This behavior can be especially common when parents react negatively or with excessive punishment when they catch their child playing with poop.
  • Stress or Anxiety: In some cases, playing with poop may be a symptom of stress or anxiety. If a toddler is feeling anxious or overwhelmed, they may use poop play as a way to cope with their emotions.

Understanding the Development of Your Child

It’s important to remember that playing with poop is a normal and often temporary phase in a toddler’s development. However, it’s still important to address the behavior in a way that discourages it and promotes healthy hygiene habits.

When you catch your toddler playing with poop, remain calm and avoid overreacting. Instead, gently remove the poop from their hands and diaper them if necessary. Explain to them that poop is dirty and should not be played with. Offer them an alternative activity, such as playing with toys or reading a book.

Tips and Expert Advice

Here are some tips and expert advice for dealing with coprophagia in toddlers:

  • Stay Consistent: Be consistent with your message that playing with poop is not acceptable. Avoid giving your child mixed signals by punishing them one time and ignoring it another.
  • Positive Reinforcement: Reward your child with praise or a small treat when they follow your instructions and avoid playing with poop.
  • Address Underlying Causes: If you suspect that your child’s poop play is due to stress or anxiety, address the underlying issues. Talk to them, offer reassurance, and seek professional help if necessary.
  • Consult a Healthcare Professional: If your child’s poop play persists or you have any concerns about their health, consult a healthcare professional. They can rule out any underlying medical conditions and provide guidance on how to manage the behavior.

FAQ on Coprophagia

Q: Is it dangerous for a toddler to play with poop?

A: Yes, playing with poop can expose a child to bacteria and parasites that can cause illness. It’s important to discourage this behavior and ensure that your child washes their hands thoroughly after touching poop.

Q: What should I do if my toddler eats poop?

A: If your toddler eats poop, don’t panic. Stay calm and contact your healthcare professional for advice. They may recommend giving your child a dewormer or other medication to prevent infection.

Q: When should I be concerned about coprophagia?

A: Coprophagia is typically a temporary phase in a toddler’s development. However, it’s important to be concerned if the behavior persists beyond the age of 3 or if it’s accompanied by other symptoms, such as developmental delays, loss of appetite, or weight loss.


Playing with poop is a common behavior among toddlers. While it may be a nuisance and a concern for parents, it’s important to understand the reasons behind it and approach it in a way that discourages the behavior while promoting healthy hygiene habits. By following the tips and advice provided in this article, you can help your toddler move away from this phase and develop healthy and hygienic behaviors.

Would you like to learn more about the fascinating topic of toddler development? Leave a comment below and let us know what other topics you would like us to explore.

3 year old taking a poop.hiliarious, gotta see it - YouTube
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