My Toddler’s Poop Smells Like Mothballs: Why It Happens & What To Do

Babies poop. While the smell of a baby’s poop can be rather off-putting, the smell and consistency of the poop can give us a few handy hints about the health of the baby. So, if you smell mothballs when you are wiping your baby’s bottom, then you will probably want to take note.

It can be hard to pin down while your toddler’s poop smells like mothballs without going to a doctor. It could be anything from a vitamin deficiency to a food allergy or even an infection in the gut. 

We wouldn’t recommend that you try and diagnose the problem yourself. Head to a doctor. If you don’t, then it is really just a case of ‘experimenting’ to see what the problem is, and that could just make things worse.

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Why Does My Toddler’s Poop Smell Like Mothballs?

There are several reasons why your toddler’s poop may smell like mothballs. We are going to go through them here. However, the only way to properly diagnose the problem is to talk to a doctor. That’s what the doctor is there for, after all.


One of the leading causes of mothball poop is constipation. If you notice that your child isn’t pooping regularly, then this could be a surefire sign that your child has constipation.

If you notice that your child seems reluctant to poop because it causes them pain, then this is another sign of constipation. 

Constipation issues can be the result of many different things but, in most cases, it will boil down to not having enough fiber or liquid in the diet. 

Issues With The Digestive System

If there are issues with the digestive system, then it could cause a rather smelly poop, although not necessarily one that smells like mothballs.

Viral infections, malabsorption, etc. can all cause that poop to have a bit of a scent to it. If your child has issues with the body absorbing the nutrients in their food (malabsorption), then this could be a serious health issue that needs to be treated pretty quickly. Your child needs to have a balanced diet, after all.

Food Allergies

While many food allergies will probably not present themselves until later on, some food allergies can present themselves when your child is transitioning to ‘real’ foods.

Some of these allergies may eventually clear up. However, for now, they are going to cause poop that smells like mothballs.

Unless you have been keeping close tabs on your child’s food consumption, it can be pretty tough to tell what your child is allergic to. Your best bet here is to head to your doctor. They will be able to carry out a variety of tests to see which allergies your child has.

Once you remove those foods from your child’s diet, the foul smell should start to clear up.

Lactose Intolerance

Yes. We know that lactose intolerance is a food allergy. However, we do have to single this particular allergy (and one more) out.

At this age, many toddlers are making the transition to dairy products. This is when lactose intolerance will start to appear. If you notice foul-smelling poops or your child seems to have some rather hideous gas after they have consumed dairy, then there is a pretty strong chance that they have lactose intolerance.

In many cases, lactose intolerance will clear itself up a little bit. However, we wouldn’t really recommend that you wait for it to clear up. If your child has lactose intolerance, then they are going to be in pain every time they consume a bit of dairy. 

Gluten Intolerance

This is the second allergy that we want to single out.

A gluten intolerance (wheat, etc.) can cause mothball-smelling poop.

If your child has eaten bread or something similar and then poops, then it may be a sign they have a gluten intolerance. If you can cut back on the gluten, or eliminate it, then it may eliminate that smell.

Clothes Exposure To Mothballs

In extremely rare cases, your child may have had exposure to mothballs. Hopefully, not as serious as eating them. However, if mothballs have come into contact with your child’s clothing, then your child could end up absorbing the mothball chemicals into their skin.

What Should I Do If My Toddler’s Poop Smells Like Mothballs?

In most cases, a toddler’s poop smelling like mothballs isn’t anything serious. It is a problem that can be easily dealt with. However, we do suggest that you do not deal with it yourself.

We suggest that you head to the doctor. They will be able to establish exactly why your child may have mothball-scented poop and provide you with ways to deal with the issue.

Most of the time, your doctor is going to advise you to avoid giving certain foods to your child. There is also a chance that they may give your child a vitamin supplement, or suggest that they get more fiber into their diet. If your child has a gut infection, then they may be prescribed antibiotics.

The reason why we suggest that you do not do anything yourself is that it can be pretty hard to nail down what the issue is. There are just so many things that can cause mothball-smelling poop, and the longer you take to diagnose the problem, the more chance that your child could get sicker.  

Final Thoughts

If your child’s poop smells like mothballs, it isn’t going to be a huge cause for concern. It is likely down to a lack of certain nutrients in their diet, or perhaps they have an allergy of some sort. Most of these problems can be quickly rectified, but you will need to talk to a doctor.

Remember, it isn’t normal for your child’s poop to smell like mothballs! If it happens once, that is fine. If it is happening repeatedly, then it really is a problem that you are going to need to deal with quickly.

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