Friday, August 21, 2009

Preventing the Toddler From Taking Off His Diaper & Playing with Its Contents

One question I get asked alot is "How can I prevent my toddler from taking off his diaper during his nap or when I am not looking?" and some even proceed to tell me that their little one smears the poop or picks apart the diaper. This is especially the case with a child with a global developmental delay, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), or sensory processing disorder (SPD).

Some of my tips include:

  • Have the child help clean up the mess. This grosses some kids out, however others think it is fun. So in the later case, helping to clean up would be a reward
  • I don't recommend the duct tape idea that many try. I have seen children's skin react to the adhesive. Remember that body heat makes adhesive stick to the skin more so if the diaper scoots around and the adhesive is on the skin, this could be bad. One child I know of even had the skin tore off...ouch!
  • My most common suggestion is to put the child in footed pajamas with a zipper, but put them on backwards. If you live in a hotter area like I do, then it is a good idea to cut off the feet to the pajamas. I do not have the shoulder range of motion to undo a zipper that goes from my neck to my buttocks, so I doubt that any toddler does either. Yet, if the pajamas are too large on the child, he could wiggle it around, so make sure the pajamas are a little tighter in the bodice and neck.
  • Depending upon the child's cognition level, use rewards after each nap that he left his diaper on or didn't smear the poop
  • If the child has touch sensitivity and the awareness of his bowel movements, it may be time to start potty training and he is just giving of readiness signals. I had one mom even put a potty in the child's bedroom so that he would use it when she wasn't around (like at nap or night) and choose not to play with the diaper or pull up
  • Some children still find away to pull off the diaper and play with its contents, in this case behavioral strategies and techniques such as those suggested by a psychologist or applied behavior analyst (ABA) may be necessary

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