What do you do when your baby hates diaper changes?

What do you do when your baby hates diaper changes?

Posted by Rosalee Rester on Jan 23rd 2020


Daily diaper changes during the first year average around 8 a day. Add in dressing after a bath or a spit-up and number climbs up even higher. Forget about changing your own clothes. What happens if your baby hates getting changed? That’s a large chunk of waking time your baby (and you) are feeling miserable. We’re going to share some tips on how to lessen the power struggles around changing diapers and dressing.

What are the reasons your baby hates diaper changes?

It seems obvious to me but then I’m one of those folks who hates getting dressed. I can live for days in my sweatpants and cozy orange cat sweatshirt. Because I work from home, I tend to get away with such oafish behavior.

I can’t imagine how much more I’d hate getting dressed if I had to do it 8-10 times a day. I'd be quite upset if I had power struggles with a large person who, without asking me first, threw me on a table and yanked off my pants and shirt. I'd start kicking and screaming big time if they held a bag over my head while shoving my arms into a straightjacket. And, the entire time they were scowling in disgust. Is it any wonder you have a crying baby that hates diaper changes?

What if I was in the middle of a deep learning moment and someone scooped me up and rushed me to the bathroom?

Or pulled me out of a cozy, afternoon nap to take off my pants in a freezing cold bathroom?

Or snatched me out of my lovely, lavender-scented bubble bath and shoved me on my back to pull a sack over my head.

And, please don't ever use paper towels on my butt.

You get the idea.

How To Stop A Baby Crying When Changing

Below are our tips to make diaper changing battles disappear. It's a three-pronged approach that I’m naming TED because TED is like a nice and fuzzy Teddy Bear. TED stands for Talk, Empathize & Distract.

Talking

Calmly let your baby know that it is time for a nappy change. The importance of remaining calm cannot be overstated as it is you they are mirroring. They also follow your breathing patterns so when you breathe slowly, it calms them down.

Depending on the child’s development, you can give them the illusion of choice. Let him know he has some charge of his body. “You have a wet diaper. I can either change it now or in 2 minutes. Which do you choose?"

Narrating your actions throughout a diaper change helps your baby relate their experiences to your words. And, it increases language skills. “You have a diaper rash so I am going to put a rash cream on your bottom and baby powder. You may feel cold but it will only last for a minute. I am going to fasten the diaper. ”

Talking to them before and during the diaper change conveys respect for their bodies. 

Empathizing

Connect with your baby. Notice what activity they're engaged in and what they might feel when pulled away from it. In their minds, they are leaving that activity behind forever. According to child development experts it is not until they are between 8-12 months that they begin to develop an understanding of object permanence.

Pick your diaper changing battles. Try and change your baby's diaper without taking them to a different room. If you have to extract them, try giving your baby a choice or involve them in a new game.

Distracting

  • Singing songs is the best. It’s fun and very distracting. If you don’t know how to sing, here is a great list with videos of easy songs to sing to your baby.
  • Who doesn’t love a good game of tickling, fart noises, and peekaboo? Here’s a great list of baby games that will get your baby laughing and won’t drive you bonkers.
  • Have a special toy on hand that they only get to play with when you are changing their diaper (like your $1000 iPhone...)
  • Stickers in a bag make diaper changes fun. Each time they get a diaper change, they get to pick a sticker out of the bag.
  • This cotton mobile on Etsy is one of my favorites. I could look at it for hours.
  • A colorful music mobile. If you have time to make one yourself it looks so much better. You can get a music box with 30+ melodies and switch the tunes up. I made a large mobile out of 60 paper cranes and it was beautiful. I don't have a picture but it looked a bit like this monarch mobile.

Monarch Butterfly Mobile For Babies

How You Dress Your Baby Can Make A Big Difference

I just gotta say, what is up with our baby clothing?

It's much easier to change a baby in pants and a shirt but tops ride up and pants fall down. Pants tend to have elastic that is either too tight or too loose. No one wants to be adjusting their baby's clothing all day long.

The best outfit to dress a baby in is a one-piece. But, one-pieces come with all sorts of fasteners. They come with zippers that snag skin or break at the most inconvenient time. Velcro is scratchy, ruins clothing when washed and is noisy if you are changing at night. Magnets are scary. Hooks & buttons? I don't have time for them. And then, there are the endless snaps.

Snaps Be Gone

Your crying baby is flinging karate kicks and you are expected to remove a dirty diaper and snap 3 to 24 snaps on a single outfit? Seriously? This is what my daughter looked like through her entire diaper phase. 

Baby Onesie Hanging Out Unsnapped

There are a few fastener-free outfits out there that help to put an end to this insanity and we have been making one of them since 2008. My son looked more like this during his diaper phase.

Yankers Jumpsuit in Black

Shameless Plug

Yankers® JumpsuitsRompers are so simple that it makes snaps seem silly. It’s a baby jumpsuit you can pull down in the back. It keeps your baby comfy because the top stays on during a diaper change. It's great because you can check your baby's diaper without having to undress. Your toddler hates keeping his clothes on? Yankers® are difficult for a toddler to remove on his own. It has no zippers, elastic, velcro or fasteners of any kind. It’s fabric and your baby, nothing else. This means you don't have to worry about a choking hazard or a recall.

Rags who was on Shark Tank makes an entire line of fastener free  low crotch baby jumpsuits that are so cute. You put them on and take them off the same way you would put on and take off your own jumpsuit. Legs in first and up over the butt. Their jumpsuits mean there's nothing to pull over your baby's head. But, you do have to remove the entire outfit when you change a diaper.

Vingerhoet came out with a design like ours except the shirt panel hangs outside. It also has elastic inside the back band. We love their minimalistic look with their raw edge finishes.

It just makes sense to have your baby in clothing that shortens the length of time you are changing a diaper.

Tips & Tricks

Then there are these simple things you might not know about.

  • Baby Tops Have Large Head Openings. Baby tops come with large neck openings or lap folds at the neckline. This is to get the clothing over a baby's large head. But, did you know you can also pull them DOWN over a baby's shoulders? If there is an explosive mess, pull that onesie down instead of over the head.
  • Bend the knee is the way. Tickling when they lock the knee is how to unlock it.
  • Standing Changes. Do not underestimate the skill of being able to perform a standing change. Leaving your baby in their environment is much less stressful for everyone. A great solution is to create a portable diaper changing station with baby products that you can use anywhere in your house. Opt for a changing pad you can tuck into a cute basket that holds diapers, diaper wipes, and diaper cream.
  • Keep your baby warm through the change. Have you ever had the pleasure of sitting in a car in the middle of winter that has a built-in seat warmer? If so, you can understand how awesome a heating pad under the changing pad cover might feel on a baby's bottom. Make sure that it is safe to use on baby and keep that temperature low for baby's tender skin. A wipe warmer to take the chill off your baby wipes also helps keep baby warm on a cold day. 

Remember that week by week, there are fewer and fewer diaper changes. Along with giving birth, the days of changing diapers, diaper pails and changing tables will soon be but a distant memory. Potty training time is right around the corner. Oh Yay.

Now that you've got your newfound skills and your baby no longer hates having her diaper changed, let us know what worked best for you!