Changing A Squirmy Baby’s Diaper

1. “Help! Does anybody out there have any ideas on how to get my 10 month, 22 lb., extremely strong willed boy to accept having his diaper changed? Every single diaper change is an exhausting battle trying to hold him down long enough to get a diaper on him and he screams the entire time. We’ve been fighting this since he was 6 months old and it’s not getting any better. I am using diaper covers because pins would be impossible. Giving him a toy or bottle worked for about 2 weeks, now we can’t find anything to calm him down. If anyone has any ideas, I’d love to hear them.”

2. “Both of my children struggled during diaper changes. My daughter wouldn’t quiet down no matter what I tried. My son, however, stops resisting when I sing `Matthew’s wearing a dirty diaper…’ and then `Matthew’s wearing a clean diaper…’ to any tune he knows.”

3. “I keep a supply of small toys with different shapes and textures by the changing table. Whenever we’re ready to change a diaper I quickly pop one of these toys under his shirt. He’s hypnotized by the mystery under his shirt and completely forgets the diaper. As he’s gotten older we’ve been able to verbalize a guessing game and it’s made changing a treat. This approach has worked for everyone I know that’s tried it.”

4. “Maybe he’s ready to be toilet trained. I know it’s an early age, but not every child is average.”

5. “Nothing seems to work for very long. So try many suggestions and use them for a short time – before he tires of the `newness’. That way you can use the idea later, rotate your stock of distractions! I like to tell stories or sing songs to my child during diaper time. Do this in a soft whisper so he has to be quiet and still hear you.”

6. “Have certain toys to give him only when changing his diaper and switch off so they seem new to him. Put a mobile above the changing table. Whenever someone else is around, have them amuse your son. Be thankful he doesn’t wear diapers forever!”

7. “First of all, you are not the only one who has gone through this. My first two went through the `The Battle of the Diaper Change’ and my 2 month old will probably go through a stage like that too. What I did was to first prepare them for the event by telling them that it was time to change their diaper, and I also added that they could go right back to playing (or whatever) just as soon as we were finished. Then I gave them an extra cloth diaper for us to play Peek-a-boo with. That way diaper changing time was a game. When that didn’t seem to work I gave them a toy they hadn’t seen in awhile or some kind of treat and then I hurried as fast as I could go. These methods didn’t work 100% of the time, but they certainly did avoid some wrestling matches.”

8. “First and foremost…don’t battle – even if you get him changed you won’t win. Try to remain relaxed. Here are a few practical ideas which may help: Have him stand facing the wall for as much of the process as possible. You can put the new diaper on while he stands too. Try going back to pins and pin one side before stepping him into them, the other side should be easier. Babies just seem to dislike being on their back so you might also try laying him on his belly and press (when
necessary) gently but firmly with your hand or forearm on his lower back just above his buttocks to hold him down. If you use a changing table, use a strap. It will make him mad at first, but it’ll work.”

9. “Our first boy also battled diaper changes. What worked for us was to keep a dresser top full of `changing time only’ toys near the changing table. As we walked by, we stopped to let him pick out what he wanted to play with (this sometimes took several minutes). We would keep toys there that had small parts or were too delicate for everyday play, but were safe while we were watching him. Suggestions: music boxes, shake & snow toys, tiny globe, hand puppet or marionette, ceramic animal sculptures, tiny cars or trucks, etc. Make sure the toy is put back after changing. Another option was some `this-little-piggy’ or peek-a-boo play before the diaper change. And our reaction could make a difference – friendly exasperation could change him around, rather than anger. And remember, `This too shall pass’.”

10. “Balloons! They’re cheap & every other day I’d change the color. Hang it on a string and drop from ceiling just close enough for baby to swat at it and make it move! Other toys can be suspended like this too! Also: some babies do not like being flat on their back. I prop my son’s head up on a small pillow or stuffed

11. “Try putting a mobile above the changing table, and bright pictures that you can easily change on the wall.”

12. “We had special changing toys (that our daughter was not allowed to have unsupervised for one reason or another) we gave her during the changing process. We have a tape player which we turn on and sing along with. We use the time to play and sing `The wheels on the bus go around and round’, etc. or `Round about there sat a little bear, etc.’. We are not in a hurry! I enjoy the `command performance’ this changing process creates. Sometimes we just don’t change them immediately (like after a nap because she just completely objects). Now she goes to get the diaper (she’s 27 1/2 months) and we follow her and change her. Mostly distractions work. Now we talk about the day when she will wear underwear instead of diapers. Once in a while we double-teamed her or put her in her crib until she cooperated. We give her a task to perform – hold her shirt up. Also there’s a changing pad on a regular dresser in front of the mirror which she can look in and a mobile hangs at the top.”

13. “Maybe a form of desensitization would help. At a time other than diaper time, lay your son on his back and try playing with him in such a way that he enjoys staying on his back. This may take lots of work and creativity on your part at first but if you keep at it I am sure you will find some `game’ that both you and your baby enjoy. Work this type of interaction into your diapering time. Continue to play with him on his back as he will allow, changing your games as he changes. Pick times when he is at his `best’ and don’t force the interaction. Try never to make lying on his back unenjoyable when you’re playing.”

14. “Try changing his diaper in different places – on the couch, floor, etc. Leave a few diapers, wipes, etc., here and there so it’s not a production to get ready. Change him when he’s already in a good mood (not always possible of course!). Start a game before the change starts – our favorite is `tickle bee’. Fly your fingers around and buzz, saying `tickle bee is coming – where’s he gonna get you?’, then lightly tickle him under the arm on his tummy, toes, etc. After he’s engaged in the game, do a step of the change between tickles, and he’ll be dry before he knows it. Blowing `raspberries’ on his tummy can work, too. Good luck!”

15. “If you’re breast feeding, drink chamomile tea & avoid highly sugared foods. Spend time with him on changing table in play when not changing. Use soothing music and massage just before changing.”

16. “For my own 12 month old son I found that saying novel items such as household things (comb, hair dryer, telephone) that are typically off limits helped keep him busy. I saved some items exclusively for diaper changes. When they became too familiar I exchanged them with more novel items. I also found that my son was most content when I smiled, sang to him and involved him in an activity such as `peek-a-boo’, `pat-a-cake’, etc. When he sensed that I was `all business’ he struggled more. When traveling, I often changed him standing up against the steering wheel. (with the car parked of course). Being able to watch against the window, having a wheel to hold onto has helped. He always got dirty or frightened by the blow drier in public bathrooms.”

17. “We have the same problem with our 10 month old girl! One thing that helps is changing the environment. Change the diaper wherever the baby happens to be playing rather than moving him. Another thing that can help – try giving him something he normally can’t play with – but only let him have this at the diaper change so it doesn’t become old hat. My husband blows on our daughters stomach to make her laugh and keep her from rolling over. But the thing that has helped us most is just changing her in the living room or wherever she happens to be so that her activities aren’t as disrupted. It’s not easy!”

18. “We rely on variety. I keep several objects on a nearby dresser (painted wooden eggs, sparkle filled rattle, ribbon, etc.) and rotate the toys he plays with during changing. When something in his hands doesn’t divert him, I sing with my baby (17 months, 25 lb., extremely active, strong and strong willed) songs such as `She’ll be coming round the mountain’, `Row, row, row your boat’, or `Old Macdonald’. When a familiar song doesn’t soothe him, I try one completely unfamiliar to him. When songs don’t work, we play peek-a-boo with a cotton diaper, or name face & body parts. We also talk a lot about `co-operation’, and I compliment him profusely when he cooperates.”

19. “Our daughter, an active and sweet-tempered 20 month old, has also consistently struggled against diaper changes. We’ve tried many things that will work for a while then we have to try new ones. Here are some suggestions: When she could stand, I learned how to change her diaper while she was upright (This skill qualifies a parent as a diaper-master). I would place her next to the coffee table and put on it an interesting puzzle, book, toy, rock or maybe something from around the house she’d never seen and investigated. Sometimes singing a loud and boisterous song will work. `The Happy Wanderer’ with it’s chorus ending in `Val-der-ah-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha’ was a big favorite for a while. Whenever possible I have someone else distract her with puppets on their hands, funny faces, dancing or just swinging their arms and hands or whatever their imagination can come up with. Or have someone else help you hold the child down when everyone is too unhappy to have fun with it but the diaper needs to be changed. I tell her I know she doesn’t like it but I have to change it now and it’ll be over soon. It seems to help to talk out loud about what is happening when things start to get grim. Sometimes I tell her it’s frustrating for me or it makes me angry when it’s so hard to change the diaper. Our last resort is to turn on the TV momentarily.”

20. “We make a game out of changing diapers and change the game each time or every other time. We will change him in different rooms or on the floor, etc. The toys he plays with during a diaper change don’t get played with at any other time. I’ve found that if I don’t get upset, he doesn’t get so mad. Sometimes I only get the diaper on before he turns over and wants to crawl away, that’s OK. The plastic pants and his pants can go on as he’s crawling away. The main thing is patience. This too shall pass!”

21. “Try placing his head on the other end of the changing table – for a change of scenery. That worked for us when our boy was 1 month. If that doesn’t work, try the toy projector that is on the market that puts Disney images on the ceiling. Maybe he doesn’t like the wraps? Does he have a rash?”

22. “In response to November’s question on how to get a little boy to lay still for a diaper change, I had the same problem. I installed my crib mirror on the changing table. Now my baby is so infatuated with the `other little boy’ in the mirror, he doesn’t have time to make a fuss! Sometimes playing our music box during a diaper change or fingernail clipping session has a calming effect also.”

23. “Is your son able to stand on his own, or with hands on your shoulders? Some children just object to having to lay down to be changed.”

24. “Yikes! Sounds like my baby too! A friend told me to keep a roll of masking tape near my changing table and put a little bit of tape (about 1 inch) on my baby’s finger. She gets so absorbed in trying to get it off one finger and then (of course) off the other finger that the diaper change is over and she’s been amused the whole time. I can not tell a lie – it doesn’t work all the time – apparently it’s just as fun to remove tape from your finger while standing up. But it works occasionally and we have fun trying.”

25. “Our son (now 2 1/2) also went through a phase of screaming through diaper changes. Here are some of the tricks we tried – none ever worked all the time so we’d vary the approach. Have one diaper leg pre-pinned shut to just slide on (like pants) and quick pin the other one – or just add snug rubber pants! Change him standing up! Harder for us, but he didn’t fuss so much. On his stomach was almost as good. When 2 adults were available, one adult would cuddle and play patty-cake or patty-feet (patty cake with the feet) while the other would dodge flying body parts. For one adult, play game of patty feet, take off wet diaper, paddy feet, one pin in new diaper, paddy feet, the other pin, etc., till redressed. Sing a favorite song during diaper changes – we still sing the `Elephant Song’ now with changes. Blowing noises on the stomach or tickling my hair on his tummy or blow gently in his face, etc. – provide some tactile stimulation elsewhere to distract him from the change in sensation when the we diapers come off. We bought some water proof squares to go under the changing area and started changing him by favorite toys, in front of Sesame Street, laying by our kitty – near some distraction. Above all, I found my attitude made a difference. If I felt, `Oh no, here comes a major battle’, I’d be scowling and frowning and sure enough, the battle soon arrived. If my attitude was more, `Let’s try something new and see if this works’, I could still keep my composure and not as much frustration came out in my face or voice. It didn’t always stop the screams, but I felt they were less intense. Good luck!”

26. “Acknowledge your baby is getting older and more independent. Speak to your baby, `When you have a wet diaper, come to me and I will change it,’ or `I am going to change your diaper now…would you like to pick a toy to play with?’ (while holding your baby over the toy basket). On tough days, recognize baby’s independence and allow him to kneel or stand while you finish the diaper change – perhaps looking at an interesting picture on the wall over the changing table, while
you snap snaps, put cream on a bottom or arrange the fresh diaper.”

27. “Is there anything that he is forbidden to touch that you’d be willing to let him hold during a diaper change? For instance, we have a silver cross hanging on our boy’s wall that fascinates him. I don’t allow him to play with it when he’s walking around – it would be too easy to fall with it in his mouth, or near his eyes – but flat on his back on the changing table, under my supervision, I allow it. If there is a phone jack in the room, let him have a touch tone and push the buttons, and you can disconnect after every six numbers… in other words, let him play with something that does fascinate him (daddy’s watch, etc.) but is ordinarily forbidden. Never let him play with these things unless he’s getting his diaper changed. After awhile he may look forward to diaper changing as a time when he gets to play with his `special’ toys – and let you get on with the business of changing his pants. As soon as one toy loses it’s charm, switch to another. This worked with our boy when we had the same problem.’

28. “I have a very strong willed 26 lb. one year old boy – my trick to change his diaper is a mirror located on the wall next to the changing table where he can see himself and a hand full of toys to hand him while I’m trying to hold him down and work quickly to change his diaper. It’s amazing how quickly you get to change diapers when your child puts on such a struggle.”

29. “My son is seven months and sounds the exact same way. It really works to sing. I usually sing ABC’s, `Twinkle-Twinkle Little Star’ or a lullaby also making funny faces. You might feel silly but if it works, do it. Never mind what people think – they don’t know the frustration you deal with on every change.”

30. “A ten month old has new found autonomy and is so thrilled by it that he doesn’t want anything to come in his way, especially something as bothersome as a diaper change. Two suggestions to minimize the struggle: Don’t change the diaper until you absolutely have to – use the wool diaper wraps (they will keep the baby warm even when wet). Take the diaper off and then let the baby crawl or toddle around for a while. This `breaks up’ the chore and is actually good for the baby’s skin to breathe! And just keep remembering that this too will pass as all other `stages’.”

31. “My second child, 17 months old, also hates diaper changes, and so do I! It feels like a battle to change him, it’s exhausting, and it’s hard to fight my own feelings of anger and frustration. Here are some things that have helped. I reevaluated the number of times I need to change him, to reduce the number of conflicts in a day. I get the diaper all folded and ready in the cover before I get him. Then I wait for a transition in his activity, rather than interrupting him. If he wants to bring a toy along I let him (even if it’s huge). I tell him it’s time for a diaper change, pick him up and get him laughing (by blowing on his stomach or nuzzling his neck) before we approach the dressing table and try, to deep him laughing as I lay him down. I talk to him while changing him, either singing, asking him to clap his hands, or discuss what we’re doing. I find that if I stop talking, he starts fussing. When he fights I take a deep breath, kiss his toes, and keep trying. If it gets too bad, I just let him sit up and take a break. I have noticed that his resistance to diaper changes isn’t the only thing he’s resistant to. He also dislikes changes in environment (outside to inside, etc.), and he resists being held or in any way restrained. I think that it’s a little easier if I consider his diaper – time behavior as just another manifestation of his independent little personality. I would like to mention a few things that haven’t worked. Giving him food during changes made him choke when he started to cry. If I lose my cool and yell, it upsets him even more and makes the job even harder.”

32. “Ideas for diaper changes: Clip a spring type clothes pin on his shirt for him to try to get off. Watch closely and take away when done diapering. Hide a smaller type toy or object (spool, finger puppet, etc.) inside shirt for him to try and find. Put a sticker on his nose to take off. Snatch away and put on forehead, etc. Make sure it doesn’t get in mouth. Tape objects to wall if the paint job can take it and you can diaper him turned sideways while he tries to pull them off.”

33. “Our son has a favorite blanket that he likes to lay on while we change him. He only used to sleep with it, but it now has to be close at hand at all times, so when it becomes a difficult change we put his blanket down on the floor for him.”

34. “We sound like we have the `same’ son in a sense. I sometimes talk to our son in a real fast voice while I’m changing him – it seems to fascinate him that this big person is acting so goofy. But, he’s a year old now and it’s gotten a little better, so maybe your son will out grow it, too.”

35. “We used animal sounds for awhile with success (what does a cow say? Moooo, etc.) to distract our daughter. Every `trick’ has a limited usefulness and then we have to think of something new. I diaper in every conceivable position, while she’s standing, lying on her back, lying on her stomach and sitting – whenever she is occupied with something so that she won’t mind the annoyance of being changed. Sometimes I sing. Sometimes I let her run around naked awhile. When I really need for her to be changed now and she is uncooperative, a cracker will usually do the trick.”

36. “My child dislikes being forced to lay down – I learned to diaper while she was standing. Also, fussing during diaper changes might have become a pattern for your child. You need to break the pattern – make the time more pleasant. Sing songs. I used diaper changing time to teach body parts -`Where are your eyes’, `Where is your nose’, etc. Keeping a helium balloon on a string near the changing table can be a fun diversion.”

37. “Since you are using diaper covers, have a change all set up before you start changing him. It will minimize the time he has to stay still. Also, for just wet changes, try allowing him to stand on the floor while you change him. He may try to run away, but you might be able to make a game out of it so he doesn’t feel so frustrated at being forced to be still.”

38. “Our son started this same behavior at 9 months and here are some things that we tried with him: We put a pillow on the changing table to rest his head on while we changed his diaper so he wouldn’t feel so `flat’. We play `tickle monster’ – tickling him every once in a while, sing songs, make silly faces and ask him to do it. Our son loves `Sesame Street’ characters so I have a picture of them that he can look at it while I’m changing the diapers. Now that he is 18 months and still rebels
sometimes I bring along a few treats in my pocket (marshmallows, fun fruits – something he won’t choke on) to distract him with while I change him.”

39. “Even if it means waiting longer than you would like to, choose a time when your baby has just used up a lot of energy. Let him kick around `diaper free’ for a while. Try singing and making a game of it. Stash away his favorite toy – and bring it out to him only during changing time.”

40. “Sing to him, make funny faces, and put weird things in your mouth like a rattle or a clean diaper! He’ll be so surprised he won’t move. It usually works for my little girl.”

41. “As soon as he starts thrashing, put him in his crib and leave for 30 seconds to a minute. When you return, act quiet, soothing and cheerful, glad – to – see – you attitude (this is his problem, not yours). It’s hard or impossible when you have an appointment, can’t interrupt a poopy diaper and realize he’ll spray the crib sometime. Your advantage: he can’t get out of the crib. Don’t be discouraged if it takes 6 times to the crib to change one diaper; he will get the message in 2 to 3 days. You can also do small room tasks – laundry or toys. Avoid putting him in his crib for 10 minutes after changing his diapers – he may start associating diaper changing with naps. We tried to adhere to this for 2 weeks and it helped considerably but it took a full 2 weeks to reflect that it got better for our 2 sumo wrestling twins.”

42. “Our son is also very physical on the changing table. We have begun learning as many songs as possible and encouraging him to sing along. This way we take the attention off the diapers and it’s done a lot quicker too. We also have a tape player next to the changing table and turn on the tape when we enter his room, whether or not we need to change his diaper. Recommended tapes: Raffi; Discovery Toys or any type of sing along tapes. We also have many wooden or plastic animals in a
container over his table. We will give him a different animal every time. He has learned his animals and their sounds and gets a surprise every time.”

43. “I have the same problem. What I do is have a special toy that Sarah only gets when she is being changed. I also change her in the same place every time. this of course doesn’t work when we are away from home. Also something to eat works well. I get those tiny roll candies and give them to Sarah one at a time. Only when
she is being changed. I know food shouldn’t be used as a bribe, but she’ll only be in diapers for another 2 years so I don’t worry.”

44. “Attach a crib mobile (one with a music box) to your changing table so it hangs over him while you’re changing his diaper. Hang a mirror on the wall next to your changing table so he can watch himself and you while you’re changing his diaper. Sing loud, happy, active songs to him while changing diaper.”

45. “My seven month old squirms when we dress him – although diaper changing itself isn’t too bad. To calm him while dressing, we have started singing the song `Hokey Pokey’ along with the appropriate motions as we dress him. It goes like this: You put your right arm in; you put your right arm out; you put your right arm in and you shake it all about; do the hokey pokey (while giving baby a big body wiggle) and you turn yourself about; that’s what it’s all about. Continue with all the limbs as you go.”

46. “Play a game of peek-a-boo with him while your are changing his diaper (or any other special game he seems to enjoy). If he likes music, try playing some while you change him. You could use different music too so he doesn’t get tired of the same thing. The music may also help to calm him if he is really upset.”

47. “Tape up a list of lively songs you can sing to him that have actions you can involve him in. Examples are `Pop Goes The Weasel’ & `Peas Porridge Hot’. Also, try to make up or find a song that have his name or those of his friends and family members in it. This may help to get his attention.”

48. “Try changing him in a different place (or several different places) to break the connection of his changing table being a battle ground. Try hanging something from the ceiling, or wall, – a brightly colored windsock, or musical mobile. Try playing music – soft & soothing, or bright & lively. Try hanging a mirror next to the changing table so he can see himself. Some packaged diaper wipes seem to be somewhat irritating, maybe you could try using plain water. Try rotating several different toys (new things to explore) or try toys that make a loud, clear noise – maracas, bells, etc. Try some wrist bands/mittens/socks with bells on so when he thrashes, he’ll discover he’s making noise and may get distracted. Finally, with any improvement, finish with a big hug and lots of encouragement.”