A great number of parents have been witness to this. Your small child decides eating his or her poop is the prudent thing to do. And like most parents, you throw the code red panic button.
Small children, as we know, are curious by nature. Curious about everything, including their poop. Some children will eat anything as long as it’s gross and has no nutrition. It all goes to the mouth: dirt, dust, or any object within reach. So naturally, the contents of their diaper is included.
When the day arrives, the day they decide to be disgusting, remain calm. While it is cause for concern, it’s not a genuine medical emergency. As with anything in life, the more you know, the better prepared you are.
Here are some tips and some pertinent information on what to do, why they do it, and whether or not it is harmful.
What Should I Do If My Toddler Eats His Poop?
The short answer besides stay calm is essentially nothing. Sure it’s a very disgusting event and one that requires you to have a strong stomach. But a toddler ingesting a small number of feces is considered to be minimally toxic.
You may consider calling your local poison control if:
1. Your child eats more than a small amount. A small amount is considered to be any amount equal to or less than their handful.
2. Your child shows any symptoms related to his or her stomach, such as nausea or vomiting, or starts running a fever.
3. Your child eats more than a handful, or you are unsure of the amount. Or you are unsure of the actual substance eaten.
If the child has only ingested a small amount, give plenty of water, and watch for symptoms. If the above symptoms begin within 30 minutes of the ingesting, then notify poison control or their doctor.
The United States Poison Control receives about 5,000 calls per year regarding exposure to feces.
Why Would My Toddler Eat His Poop?
Toddlers are best known for going straight to their mouths with whatever is in their hands. It doesn’t matter if it’s dirt, dust, crayons, or yes poop. Everything within reach is a potential source of food.
There will come a day when your toddler becomes curious about their diaper. More importantly, what’s in the diaper generates the most curiosity. Once their tiny hand discovers something in the diaper, well, you know what happens next!
Just remember this is part of the learning process. You can start getting worried if the problem persists past toddler-hood.
Will Eating His Poop Harm My Toddler?
The contents of your toddler’s diaper contain natural bacteria. These bacteria are the ones found in the intestinal tract. They are meant to stay. Either in the poop or the intestine. Not in the mouth.
Parasites and viruses such as hepatitis A and E are transmitted through poop. The child could become very ill if coming in contact with these. The larger the amount consumed, the more likely it can or would occur.
If the child begins showing symptoms as described above, then, by all means, consult with a doctor. Getting an early start on the problem will limit the chances of any significant harm to the child. Just remember your child’s strongest ally is you and the comfort you provide.
What If My Toddler Eats Poop That is Not His?
If your toddler becomes curious about the contents of another toddler’s diaper, again, don’t panic. The same general rules still apply if he or she decides their playmate’s poop is more flavorful or simply more colorful.
What if your toddler decides to sample the poop buffet the dog left in the newspaper? With animal feces, your quick response makes all the difference.
Salmonella lives within the intestinal tract of all dogs, cats, birds, and so on. Salmonella from animal feces can cause serious illnesses in humans, especially in small humans like your toddler.
The infection spreads when you or your toddler come in contact with the animal’s fur or on contaminated bedding. The best prevention is proper handwashing.
Salmonella causes severe stomach discomfort, diarrhea, and typically a very high fever. In infants and older adults with weakened immune systems, these symptoms could potentially be life-threatening.
Wild animal feces has been known to be the cause of some illness, particularly in small children. Raccoons are becoming more at ease around humans; therefore, it can become an issue.
Just be sure that you include animal poop training in your toddler training manual!
Basic Good Advice
The poop eating stage your toddler may experience is part of the learning and growing experience. While being just plain gross, it seems it has no long-term mental issues toward your toddler.
Most likely, one of the many things your toddler does or involves you with will tend to be gross. We are changing loaded diapers, cleaning up vomit, and seeing those little hands going in their mouth. Just remember it won’t last forever.
It is a step in life that may be avoided by just keeping a watchful eye. Not to say you aren’t an awesome parent. Your eyes can’t be everywhere all of the time. And your toddler is going to eat, drink, and smear stuff until they mature.
If your little angel becomes obsessed with his or her poop, then, by all means, consult their doctor. It could indicate there may be something missing from their diet. It may also indicate other problems and can be addressed before they become worse.
A happy, healthy toddler is the cornerstone of a happy, healthy parent. Keep all of your important phone numbers up to date and in a place easily accessible for you or anyone babysitting your child. And above all else, remain calm and comfort your child. Just in case one of these poop eating episodes gets a bit out of hand!