Nightingale Night Nurses 2-2020-334

5 Tips for a Diaper Changing Battle

Babies are always throwing us curveballs. Right when we think we’ve reached a smooth patch, they hit a new developmental milestone. One of the most common first ways that babies begin to assert their will is through fighting diaper changes. This often happens when your baby first becomes mobile. They’ve got places to go and things to do! But the first time you find yourself wrestling a screaming, poop-covered baby, you realize: it can’t be like this. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be! Read on for our best tips for a diaper changing battle. 

Set a Positive Tone

The first step in approaching a diaper-changing battle is to stay positive. This is MUCH easier said than done, but it’s crucial! Babies pick up on our feelings; they can tell when we’re dreading something, too. Act excited about diaper changes, stay calm, and try your best to avoid making a sour face when that stinky diaper is opened up. This is one instance in parenting when we recommend NOT taking a deep breath… instead, some mental dialogue may come in handy. Yay, he pooped! That means he’s eating and healthy. 

The key to staying positive is to bring a sense of humor from the get-go. Remember, this phase will not last forever! As you get your baby ready for a diaper change, make silly faces, tickle them, put on a goofy voice. Many a toddler has been awed by a spur-of-the-moment diaper-changing song. If you want your child to cooperate for diaper changes, the first step is to make it fun. 

Change Location

While little ones thrive on routine, sometimes they tire of the same old thing. Have they been staring up at the same blank spot on the ceiling for months during diaper changes? Try temporarily moving changes to a new location, like the bed or floor. Sometimes this is just the ticket. But if this proves to be an easy fix except it’s killing your back, there are a few things to try:

  • Move your changing table to a new spot
  • Use a portable changing table (like a pack-n-play with changing insert) in a different room
  • Change the decor around your changing table to give your baby something new to look at

Distraction

In a similar vein, distraction is a great way to approach a diaper changing battle. Try keeping a stash of your baby’s favorite toys nearby for diaper changes. Hand them the toy as you lay them down “Ooh, what’s this? Would you like to play with it while I change your diaper?”

Other helpful ways to distract your baby during diaper changes are:

  • Have a sibling or another adult make silly faces and talk with them
  • Play music 
  • Try a soother that displays lights on the ceiling
  • Hang a mobile over the diaper-changing area
  • Give him a (safe but) normally off-limits thing to hold (i.e. TV remote)

Standing Diaper Changes

Has your baby recently learned to stand on their own? Sometimes newly standing and/or walking babies are so pleased with themselves, the last thing they want to do is lay back down. Give standing diaper changes a try. Babies will need something sturdy to lean against, like a Montessori-style low bar. Alternatively, you can have your baby face toward you and lean into your legs. For poopy diapers, you’ll have to help her lift one leg to thoroughly wipe. As she gets older, you can teach her to squat instead. 

Encourage Participation 

The part about diaper changes that many babies really hate is the lack of control. You (the caregiver) choose when, where, and how their diaper is changed. This battle of the wills is common around ages 8 months and up, and can last… for many years! To face this, ask yourself: how can I help my child be more involved? If they’re truly engrossed in an activity, can the diaper change wait a few minutes? Can they help pick out a new diaper or outfit? Here are some ways to offer choices and to your little one during diaper changes:

  • Which diaper would you like? (hold up two diapers, even if they’re the exact same)
  • Which shirt would you like after your diaper change? (hold up two different shirts)
  • Would you like to help get the wipes? (let them pull out a few wipes from the container)

Older babies and toddlers love feeling helpful. Yes, even carrying a dirty diaper to the pail! Giving them back some of their power to make choices and be an active participant is one of our favorite tips for diaper changing battles. 

Overcoming the Diaper Changing Battle

At some point, most babies will start to fight diaper changes by squirming, fussing, or outfight throwing a fit. Knowing this is perfectly normal will help you stay positive and calm. Show them that you are unruffled by their antics, act excited about diaper changes, and make silly faces. Distract them with special toys, a new diaper changing-location, or silly songs. If your little one is pulling up or beyond, try standing diaper changes. Throughout the whole process, from letting your little one know it’s diaper changing time all the way through until tossing that dirty diaper in the pail, encourage their participation. If possible, give choices about when, where, and in what position their diaper is changed. Solicit their help in selecting wipes, diapers, or new outfits. Finally, validate their frustration and let them know what’s coming next. “You want to go outside now! It’s so fun to play outside. First we’ll change your diaper, then we’ll go outside.” Or “You’re tired! It’s no fun to be tired. First, we’ll change your diaper. Then, we’ll read a bedtime book.” Remember parents, this phase feels challenging, but it doesn’t last forever. The more you can keep diaper changes a light and fun part of your routine, the easier this phase will be in the long run.