Toddlers touching their genitals is a sensory rather than an overtly sexual act that serves to relax or change how they are feeling or simply distract themselves. According to the Mayo Clinic, sticking hands in diapers from as early as 18-24 months is also an indicator that they are ready to be potty trained.
Toddlers explore anything and everything, and during their baby months, they learn a lot about the whole world and very little about themselves. Of course, their exploration ways will leave you embarrassed, but it’s nothing to them.
Because of the many reasons they do it, it can be more challenging to train a toddler not to play with themselves or not to keep sticking their hands in their diapers, but it can be easier to distract them.
After all, children are more or less nudists if left to their vices.
Reasons why toddlers put hands in their diapers
It is common at different developmental stages of a child’s life for them to all of a sudden start touching their genitalia for different reasons at different stages, and the cause in toddlers could be any of the following:
- It may simply be a pleasant feeling for your toddler when they touch some of their body parts and that’s why you’ll find this behavior in toddlers of both genders.
- It may be that your toddler has irritation in their diaper area and they need to get relief from it. Do not assume anything, as rather than chafing being the result of the toddler playing with themselves, it could be the reason.
- The diaper might be too tight on the waist making them uncomfortable.
- They may be unhappy about something like having their pacifier taken away.
How to keep toddlers hands out of their diaper
For these little ones, putting their hands in their diapers is usually the byproduct of a primary urge. If we can figure out why they have to slide those hands inside those diapers, we can also find alternative ways to satisfy the original urge, as shown below.
1. Change the dirty diaper promptly
Soiled diapers are one of the primary reasons your toddler may stick his hands in there to try and relieve the feeling of poop against his butt, and a better way to solve that problem would be to change the diapers promptly after they are soiled.
Many toddlers will give cues as to when they are ready to poo by finding a private place in the corner to do their business, and as they get older, they begin to learn how to alert you that they are ready for a clean diaper.
2. Start potty training
A toddler constantly trying to remove a diaper, especially a poopy one, is one of the indicators that they are ready to start potty training. If your little one is ready to start potty training, do it as it will help redirect his desire to remove the diaper in the proper place and time.
3. Give the baby something else to concentrate on
Sometimes, toddlers stick their hands inside their diapers and play with them just because they are bored or at completely inappropriate times. You probably want to discourage that behavior without drawing attention to it.
If your toddler has the awkward behavior of putting his hands in his diaper or playing with himself when being changed in public, try keeping a small toy in your diaper bag that he can only play with during diaper changes.
4. Make it fun and game
Suppose your toddler is putting their hands in their diaper or playing with themselves as a way to get a rise out of you. In that case, you may be able to divert that attention with a game like counting together and singing along if they are old enough to occupy him.
5. Remove the temptation
It is helpful to preemptively dress that little ninja in an outfit that reduces or completely hinders his ability to access his diaper. There’s a wide selection of clothing options that can help you keep your toddler’s hands off their diapers.
There’s a wide selection of clothing like pajamas that zip up or bodysuits under their clothing that can help you keep your toddler’s hands away from their diapers.
6. Change diaper size
Another reason your toddler could be messing with their diaper that isn’t just amusement and exploration is discomfort. Your young one may be sending you a signal that the waistband is too snug and it’s time to go a size up.
If they seem to be constantly uncomfortable in their diapers, you may also want to consider a different style or brand like those designed for sensitive skin.
Why do toddlers touch their poop?
While gross, It is perfectly normal for a toddler to play with their poop, and parents can translate this short-term phase as a sign that their toddler is interested in potty training.
Loss of temper and overreaction on your side runs the risk of an increase in this behavior. It’s important to keep your cool.
What age should a child be potty trained by?
Most toddlers show signs of being ready for potty training between 18-24 months of age, but others might not be ready until they are 3 years old. There’s no rush because it might take you longer to train your child if you start early.
Self fondling is a natural toddler act but a socially unacceptable one. So the key is to teach them skills and concepts that enable them to learn how to do it in socially acceptable ways.
Once you teach them where and when this appropriate behavior can be done, you can avoid the embarrassment, and even though you’ll know it’s happening, it will likely be behind closed doors where you, or worse still, others won’t have to watch.
While it’s socially taboo to behave this way, especially in front of others, you should not shame or punish the child, and you also want to avoid drawing more attention to it like laughing about it like it’s cute, because this giggling act could escalate the problem into intentional attention-seeking behavior.