There’s possibly nothing a baby hates more than diaper changes.
With so much of the world to explore, your little one would much rather have fun playing, crawling, snacking, laughing, or rolling. There’s nothing fun about having to stay still on a table while cold hands remove a dirty diaper and securely fasten a fresh one. Additionally, as babies turn into curious toddlers, getting them to cooperate during a diaper change becomes even more challenging (and with their growing size comes a stronger struggle, too!).
If your once angelic newborn baby suddenly hates diaper changes or this has been a constant battle from the start, don’t worry! We have some simple tips for how to change a wiggly baby to make it feel like less of a fight.
But first, let’s tackle why your baby or toddler might be fighting diaper changes to understand what the fuss could be all about.
Possible Reasons For a Wiggling Baby
Cold and Exposed
Imagine being bundled up in a cozy onesie and then, boom! Suddenly, in a flash, your diaper is off and your bottom is exposed. Babies can find the temperature change to be jarring, and this discomfort could be the cause of the crankiness. Toddlers are also aware of the drastic change from warm to cold but may not know how to tell you, opting for kicking and screaming instead. Pay attention to the room’s temperature and try to make the space as warm and comfortable as possible.
Startled and Confused
Just like the temperature shock explained above, babies get fussy when they are startled or confused as to why something is happening. A toddler who is engrossed in a toy or game might be unsure why you are suddenly interrupting their playtime. Sometimes, the need to attend to a diaper urgently makes itself known, but you don’t have to swoop in with alarm. Ease into it and let your child know what’s going on so it’s not so jarring when you remove them from their crib, play space, a favorite show, or other engaging activity.
Wants To Be In Control
Babies are constantly learning and once they’ve tried out a skill like rolling or crawling, they certainly do not want to be interrupted. As babies develop into toddlers, they also start to become aware of their own little selves: what they need, what they want, and what they 100% do not want to do. Knowing that your child is throwing a tantrum because they feel restrained or unable to articulate their feelings not only helps you take it less personally but gives you a glimpse into what they’re thinking and feeling. They’re expressing themselves the only way they know how! Once you figure that out, you might be able to negotiate around their impulse to assert control through their struggle on the table.
Babies Get Hangry, Too
When is the last time your baby or toddler ate? Sometimes they show off their squirminess when they are hungry and need a snack. Reschedule changing times to occur after a meal or snack to eliminate any crankiness caused by an empty stomach.
4 Tips To Battle The Diaper Change Fight
Sometimes understanding why your baby fights a diaper change is great but that won’t help you clean their hiney! Take this advice to the changing table to try and reduce resistance and frustration for both you and your little one.
Set Up For Diaper Change Success
The quicker you can finish the diaper change, the happier you and your child will be. Here’s a quick list of items to have ready to go:
- New diaper
- Changing pad
- Any ointments, powders, or creams
- Diaper pail for easy disposal
Make sure the wipes, creams, and anything with a top, lid, or secured closure are previously opened so that you’re not fumbling with packaging while your baby or toddler simultaneously fights you. Preparing your changing station beforehand won’t make your little one squirm any less, but it will help you to complete the diaper change faster and, hopefully, minimize fussiness.
Make It As Fun As Playtime
If you’re frustrated while refereeing tiny kicking legs and fighting arms, your child can likely sense it. Instead, try to take their struggle in stride and infuse a little fun into the diaper change charade. (Trust me, they’ll notice!)
Toddlers and babies love to play, so why not help them associate changing time with playtime? Decorate the room with bright and eye-catching patterns and objects. Most babies love mobiles, so positioning one right over the changing table can bring a distraction directly into their line of sight. Engage your toddler in an activity like counting to ten together, naming the colors of objects in the room, or identifying different parts of the body (adding silly adjectives is also fun: wiggly toes, strong superhero arms, squishy legs, and so on).
Bring a washable toy to the changing table (add that to the list of preparedness items in tip #1!) and, in a gentle tone, entice and encourage your child to play with it. You can even remind them verbally and cheerfully how much fun you’re both having. (Even if their squirming is still irksome.)
Another way to lighten the mood is through song. Sing a familiar song like “Happy Birthday,” the alphabet, or a tune they might’ve heard on one of their favorite programs. It doesn’t matter if you’re off-key; what matters is that your little one can hear you having fun—the more animated, the better!
Explain What’s Going On
It might sound silly since they probably won’t grasp the words you are saying in their earlier years, but your reassurance and clear direction can help resolve confusion as to what’s happening. This is particularly helpful as your baby grows and your toddler starts to fully understand what’s going on.
Before you even pick up your child, communicate what’s about to happen. This can be as simple as giving a gentle touch and saying, “We’re going to go into the nursery for a diaper change. Now, I’m going to lift you up, OK?” Speak in a soothing tone as you tell the story of the adventure you’re about to embark on, as well as announcing all of the steps before you actually do them. Additionally, you can also explain what you’ll do after the diaper change is over to prepare them and give them something to be excited about.
Talking through the diaper change along with tip #2 also provides some key bonding time between you and your baby as you confidently explain, create comfort, and build long-lasting trust.
Switch Your Scenery
A new spot for changing might be distracting enough to keep your baby occupied with curiosity as you stealthily switch out their dirty diaper. Additionally, if your little one is playing and desperately needs a change, bringing the diaper changing station to where they are can signal that playtime can resume after you take care of business.
Make sure you have a portable changing pad and set up your changing station in a new room or on top of your bed to give your child new objects and areas to observe during the process. If they are extra difficult during changing, we recommend a portable changing pad with a soft and secure adjustable strap like the PooPoose Changing Pad. This helps keep your little one comfortably in place as you get your bearings and adjust to the new venue.
All babies and toddlers are different with their own distinct personalities and, just like with anything, finding the right cadence to your diaper change routine takes time. Be patient as you try the tips and tricks above to find what works best for you and your little one. Even if your baby still hates diaper changes or your toddler stays squirmy, your calm lightheartedness will help you be less frustrated as you reimagine this time as an opportunity to bond and play instead of a daunting task.
Here’s to less wiggling and more giggling!