Toddlers are curious, experiencing the world around them through sight, sound, and – especially – touch.
Toddlers touch everything and beginning around 12-months, your baby may start to begin to explore their own bodies as part of that curiosity.
And, much to your embarrassment, that includes putting their hands in their diapers.
While this can be embarrassing for the parents and onlookers alike, it is a perfectly normal and natural part of your toddler’s development.
It could be that your toddler found that putting their hands in their diaper feels good or that they are just interested in what’s going on down there.
It could also mean that they are uncomfortable or have a rash and are seeking to self-soothe.
There is any number of reasons why your toddler won’t keep hands out of their diaper, but your toddler may not be able to tell you why just yet.
If your toddler won’t keep hands out of diaper, here are seven ways that you can help to curb this behavior.
Toddler Won’t Keep Hands Out Of Diaper? Here Is My Guide
First off – avoid drawing attention, and try not to make a big deal out of this behavior. If your toddler craves attention (which many do), then seeing your crazy reaction will spur them on to do it more often.
Most toddlers will do this at least once, but it doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with them. One of my sons had his hands in his diaper at least once each day. This lasted a couple of months and he grew out of it. Most probably onto an equally annoying habit, as these kids tend to do!
1. Rule Out Something’s Wrong – Like Diaper Rash
If your toddler is irritated down there, they may start to put their hands in their diaper to stop the itching or chafing, and they may not yet have the vocabulary to tell you that something is wrong.
So, before you start to devise ways to stop the behavior, first, you want to rule out that something is wrong. Check for signs of redness or other signs of irritation, including an increased itching.
Your toddler could be constantly uncomfortable, caused by something as simple as diaper rash, and their hands provide comfort and a temporary cooling touch, or they could need additional treatment.
This is a common reason why your toddler suddenly hates diaper changes.
If you notice something uncommon, make sure to check in with your toddler’s pediatrician.
2. Change Dirty Diapers Quickly
Toddlers have more awareness the older they are, so they may be sticking their hands down their diapers because they don’t like the sensation of a dirty diaper. They are trying to press it away from their bodies or even attempting to remove it to stop the uncomfortable feeling.
Be sure to change your toddler’s diaper quickly, and that could help prevent the behavior.
If your toddler can’t tell you they need a new diaper yet, look for signals that they may need their diaper changed before they start to put their hands in their diapers.
A clean diaper will help prevent embarrassing behavior and prevent your toddler’s hands – and everything around them – from becoming dirty.
Also, to help maintain good hygiene and to reduce the chances of diaper rash, ensure that you change your toddler’s diaper as part of their bedtime routine.
3. Adjust Sizing
The diaper may be too tight on your toddler, so you may need to size up. If your toddler is putting hands down their diaper, they may be trying to add more room or prevent pinching.
This could also be true if your toddler’s clothes are too tight, so it is important to make sure that your child is wearing the right size clothes.
Any chafing can cause irritation that can lead to other issues over time.
As soon as your child realizes that putting their hand down their pants or diaper will make them feel better, they will not stop until they consistently feel comfortable.
4. Keep Their Hands Busy
Toddlers like to touch everything, and if they don’t have a toy available, they will make something a toy – and that can be themselves.
If your toddler keeps putting their hands down their diapers as you are trying to dress them, give them a toy or something else to keep their attention.
Distraction is critical when you are trying to stop your toddler from doing anything, especially putting hands down their diapers.
They don’t have very long attention spans, so the more ways you have to distract your toddler, the better.
5. Make It Fun
If your toddler likes how it feels to put their hands down their diaper, don’t worry. You can help to recreate that happy feeling in other ways by making it all a game.
Hands-up pants off could be one way that you teach them to keep their hands out of their diaper, especially if changing time is a hassle.
You could also count with them to engage their minds, which will make them forget all about what their hands are doing. Look for patterns in when your child is putting hands down their diaper and tailor a solution to your needs.
Pepper in lots of laughs and distractions, and your toddler will stop putting their hands in their diaper in no time. Just remember to be patient with your toddler – not all games are interesting to all children.
When you have got your toddler playing games, they are less likely to put hands into their diaper, right?
6. Make it Harder
If nothing else is working, you may want to make it harder for them to get into their diapers. Instead of dressing your toddler in pants, go back to putting them in zip-up onesies. Layering clothes can also make them more difficult to access.
Get creative and switch it up – your toddler is smart, so they will learn new ways to access their diapers when given a chance.
Just keep in mind that this may add more time to your getting ready or changing routine.
7. Start Potty Training
If your toddler won’t keep hands out of diaper, then it could mean they are ready for the potty.
Each child is different, but if your toddler is trying to remove their diaper, especially one that is dirty, that may mean they are ready to start to potty train your toddler!
Look into the other signs before you make this decision, including any patterns, reduction in dirty diapers, and more.
Typically, children can start as early as 18 months to begin potty training, though it can take longer depending on their development, gender, and other factors.
While it may be embarrassing for you when your toddler can’t keep their hands out of their diapers, it is important that you avoid yelling at them or punishing them for this behavior.
They are simply following a natural urge, and overly harsh reactions may cause your child to develop trauma regarding their private parts.
Instead, you will want to gently redirect your toddler’s attention.
After all, it’s likely they are receiving some form of comfort from this behavior, so by addressing the root cause, you will get better, healthier reactions from your toddler as you look to put an end to this behavior once and for all.
To you, it doesn’t seem appropriate behavior, but it is totally normal for your toddler to go through this phase. It won’t be long before they behave in more socially acceptable ways! Maybe, or maybe not.