Toddler’s Poop Smells Like Mothballs? (5 Reasons & Treatment For Smelly Poop)

If your toddler’s poop is smelling like mothballs, it could be because of reasons like malabsorption, gluten or lactose intolerance, food sensitivity or allergy, and infections. If you take care of your toddler’s dietary needs and make sure they get a healthy and balanced meal, half of the issues will be solved. For other issues, you should take your toddler to your pediatrician.

One thing most parents find the most difficult to handle is the popping business of their baby, and it’s totally understandable.

Not everyone finds it easier or can stomach handling clearing the poop of their baby, no matter how cute or lovable they are, the moment your baby does their business, it’s always “whose turn it is to clean?”

Handling a regular poppy business is a struggle in itself, but things take a turn for the worse when suddenly your little one’s poop starts turning smelly. You know something is wrong when they poop, and it smells like mothballs. So what is causing this smell to appear?

Is your baby pooping normally?

Mom's helping her toddler sit on the potty and poop using a toilet.

Before we discuss smelly poop, we need to know the difference between healthy and stinky poop.

This will tell you when you should be worried and visit your pediatrician. You can tell when your baby’s poop is normal when they are consistent and frequent.

Your toddler’s poop is normal when you notice more than three soft and occasionally loose stools each day with visible food remnants.

Your toddler needs to have healthy water absorption and transit for their poop to be healthy. They definitely need to handle more fluid to have a good poop consistency.

Although your toddler’s poop will be a little smelly, but not enough to actually pinch your nose from the smell. From drinking your milk and consuming semi-solid food, they will produce a slightly smelly poop, just like any other person’s poop.

5 reasons for smelly poop

A toddler girl is sitting on a portable potty.

After learning about what a normal poop should look and smell like, it’s time to dig deep and learn the reasons behind your toddler’s smelly poop. What causes it, and why it suddenly smells so much?

1. Malabsorption

You might be feeding your toddler all the right amount of nutrition and healthy food to create an overall balanced diet, but that doesn’t mean their body absorbs all that food. Malabsorption happens when your toddler’s body cannot absorb nutrients from the digestive system into the bloodstream.

Usually, they wouldn’t face a problem like that, but it only happens when their intestinal wall is damaged by a virus, bacterial infection, or parasites.

As a result, its surface may change so that digested substances cannot pass through. If this happens, the nutrients will be eliminated through the stool.

During which, you might get smelly poop as a result of malabsorption. It lasts about 2 days, as the surface of the intestine gets healed quickly.

2. Gluten intolerance

Another major factor why you’re witnessing that smelly poop from your toddler is because your toddler might be intolerant to gluten.

It’s hard to notice at first, but when you suspect you can give them food with gluten in it, such as wheat, barley, rice, and see the next day, the result of having gluten can be seen.

If their poop is smelly, then definitely their digestive system is gluten intolerant. Then get them tested with your pediatrician, who will recommend some tests to see if they’re actually gluten-intolerant and tell you how to replace such food items.

3. Food sensitivity and allergy

Sometimes, certain food items might not be suited to your toddler’s digestive system. It could either be some spicy food or have eaten something with a certain ingredient they are allergic to.

In such cases, you really might not be able to pinpoint on your own, so you need expert advice, and tests need to be done to find out what exactly is causing that poop to smell so bad.

4. Lactose Intolerant

Another good reason why your toddler’s poop is smelling could be because they are lactose intolerant. This means your toddler’s body is not able to absorb lactose in the small intestine. When this happens, one of the major signs is smelly or runny poop.

Although your toddler might not be lactose intolerant as a baby, they might have developed it recently, which is why you must be confused. They might also get other signs such as abdominal pain and bloating.

But ruling out lactose intolerance is not a good idea, and you should consider if the smelly poop is because of it.

5. Infections

Your toddler might be suffering from some infections, which both you and they are unaware of.

Any infection in the gut can result in a change of consistency and smell of their poop. So, if you see their stool is changed somehow and it starts to smell really bad, they might have an infection.

Infections with parasites can be a reason to worry as it creates some distinctive and odd odors.

So, at this point, getting their stool tested for bacterial, viral, and fungal pathogens is a good idea too.

Treatment for smelly poop

Dad and mom are helping feed their toddler son, who is sitting in a high chair.
  • You can make sure of giving your toddler a balanced diet, including the four Fs: Fat, Fluid, Fibre, and Fruit juices.
  • Fat intake should be increased to at least 35% or 40% of total energy intake.
  • You should make sure you give them meals at the proper time and give snacks as well.
  • You can give them fruit juices but don’t overdo their total consumption in a day.
  • If you can’t take care, you should visit your pediatrician and consult with them on what to exclude or include in your toddler’s diet to make sure their poop doesn’t smell anymore.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why does my 3-year old’s poop smell so bad?

The longer the poop sits in the intestine, the smellier it gets because of bacteria. Some babies also face other problems such as allergy or intolerance of gluten or milk, making their stool smell.

When should I be concerned about my toddler’s poop?

You should be concerned if there is infrequency or there is a difference in the consistency of their poop.

Also, if it smells more than their regular poop, that is a concern too. If it is too hard or too runny, they may be facing issues like constipation or diarrhea. You should get them checked.

Why is my toddler’s poop so sticky?

If you witness your toddler’s stool is sticky, then their diet needs some changing. This means you need to include or exclude some food items in their diet to go back to having normal poop.

Maybe their water requirements need to be watched too. Ultimately, it could also be a sign of some serious issue like Crohn’s disease.

What is toddler diarrhea syndrome?

Toddler’s diarrhea syndrome affects children from 6 months to 5 years old. If your toddler is suffering from this, they might experience having 3-10 loose stools per day.

Their poop consistency is disturbed during this time. They might also suffer from abdominal pain.

What food causes loose stools in toddlers?

Either your toddler is drinking too many sweetened drinks, such as juice or sports drinks, or lacks fiber in their diet. They need enough fiber and enough fat to produce healthy stool.

To summarize

There are many reasons why your toddler’s poop is smelling so bad, and most of them are because of their diet. Half of the issues would be solved if you just take care of their dietary needs and check on the items and their meals in a day.

You can quickly tell when your toddler’s poop isn’t normal based on the smell and consistency. While you can point out things that might be making their poop smell like mothballs, you might not always be able to point it out.

So, visit your pediatrician and think of the next possible steps that your child remains healthy and passes a healthy stool.

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