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Understanding Quirky Toddler Behaviors that are Actually Quite Normal

However adorable toddlers are, they can also surprise you with the odd things they do. Quirky toddler behavior is nothing new nor is it uncommon. Weird toddler behaviors can stump even the most experienced parents and make them wonder what’s wrong with their toddler. Biting, tantrums, putting their hands into their pants and picking their nose are just some of the behavioral issues in children which makes you question their adorability. But there are ways to discourage this, if you are wondering how to change the behavior of a child. The good news is that most of this quirky toddler behavior is not harmful and in fact is necessary for their emotional and mental growth. As a parent, you need to check on them frequently and encourage them to learn privacy, hygiene and acceptable behavior.

There are a few weird toddler behaviors that are fairly common and your toddler is likely to exhibit them at some stage.

Picky Eating

One minute, your toddler is impressing you with their appetite and their desire to eat a balanced diet, and the next, they are throwing it on the floor or at the dog. This can be very frustrating and concerning for a parent as they wonder if their baby is getting enough nutrition. This behavior is normal and it may just be that your child is not hungry at the time or may be developing their taste and sensitivity to different textures. It’s best to wait it out and keep offering them healthy food.


Just when you think your toddler is potty trained, they may start having multiple pee and poop accidents every day. Or, they may decide they don’t want to nap any more.

You will just have to retrain your child as they are rapidly growing which can impact their sleep. Routine changes, illness and teething can also cause regression and once the trigger ends, your child will go back to their routine.

Hands In Their Pants

Parents often feel like dying with embarrassment when they suddenly see their child with their hand inside their pants fondling themselves. They might giggle if you notice them and continue doing it. There is no need to panic as your toddler is just exploring and there’s no need to make a fuss about it unless they give up on other activities to fondle themselves. It’s best to just distract them and when they get older, you can let them know when self-touch is appropriate without shaming them.

Head Banging

Most parents freak out the first time their toddler bangs their head on the wall or their crib. Doctors say this behavior is completely normal as the rhythmic head banging can actually be soothing for them especially when they are sleepy or in pain. Toddlers tend to use non-verbal communication until they can speak. Or, they may just be having a  tantrum or are upset or trying to get your attention. In some cases, it can also be due to a headache or ear infection. Parents can either ignore, soothe or distract their child.

Poop Play

There can be nothing more unnerving than entering their room and seeing their diaper on the floor and poop smeared on their hands and walls. You are lucky if there’s none in their mouth too. Poop play too  is about exploring and toddlers are just curious about what comes out of their body and its texture. The positive part is that your toddler is ready to start potty training. Give your toddler plenty of opportunities to make a mess like playing with mud or modelling clay. If they don’t stop, you can fasten the edges of their diaper with tape and put their onesies on backwards to prevent it.

Nose Picking

Nose picking is another behavior that your toddler might exhibit and is almost as disgusting as poop play. They might also lick mucus or keep sniffing. This is again all about exploration but sometimes they may have an itchy nose due to seasonal allergies, a clogged nose or nose pain. You can give simple suggestions for such behavioral issues in children like telling them to do it in their room or bathroom with a tissue.

Imaginary Play

There is no reason to be alarmed if you see your toddler playing and talking to himself. Sometimes, they even do this when other kids are present. This is perfectly normal and is known as parallel play. It’s  both developmental and beneficial and enhances emotional, social, cognitive and motor skills.

Taking Clothes Off

You may be in a panic to reach somewhere on time and that’s when your toddler will decide that they don’t want to put on a stitch of clothing. Toddlers don’t understand the difference between public and private behavior and may find removing their clothes funny and entertaining, especially if you react. It could also be because their clothes are scratchy or too warm or they may just want attention. The good news is that this phase passes soon.

Eating Weird Things

Toddlers will eat anything and everything that comes their way, albeit paper, dirt, clothing, hair and  insects. Though this is pretty normal behavior, you have to be vigilant that they don’t put anything dangerous or sharp in their mouths. It could just be experimenting or an oral need depending on  the severity and frequency.

Rocking Back and Forth

Many parents worry that this behavior is a sign of autism but most often toddlers sway to unwind or soothe and put themselves to sleep. This usually stops by the time your toddler is three years old.

Holding Their Breath

This is just a strategy to express anger, agitation or surprise. Toddlers with a poor emotional disposition may do this more often.

Playing With The Gift Box

They often play with the box rather than the gift as the shiny and colorful wrapping is fascinating to them.

Putting Things in the Nose and Ear

Fruits with seeds and beads often find their way up their nose or ears and you must be very careful as it can prove to be dangerous.

Drinking Bathwater

At some point, toddlers will drink dirty, soapy bathwater and though not really harmful, is best discouraged.

Screaming and Spinning

Toddlers may start to scream or spin suddenly without any apparent reason and doctors are not really sure why they do it.


Your  toddler might suddenly isolate themselves and play on their own. They dislike interference and may get aggressive when disturbed. They pretend to have an imaginary friend and can completely ignore you.

Imaginary and Stuffed Friends

Some toddlers line up all their stuffed animals at bedtime or have a whole lot of imaginary friends. Toddlers do this when they are confused about the outside world and are more comfortable in the world they have created.

Wacky phases are a part of growing up and adjusting to the world around. As long as it doesn’t interfere with normal activities, it’s best ignored but at times you may have to explain and stop certain activities. For more information on the quirky behavior of toddlers and how to handle it, touch base with the EuroKids website on how to change behavior of a child.

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