Changing your newborn’s nappy is a special moment, full of joy, excitement and nervousness. Fast forward a few months and your little bundle of joy becomes a wriggly bundle of terror - fussing, screaming and kicking as you try to change their nappy.
As a mother of two young girls, I am VERY familiar with this daily struggle. Over time, I found myself feeling stressed and anxious (sound familiar?) which led me to explore different types of advice, approaches and soothing techniques.
Because each baby is different, it is best try a variety of things to see which one(s) work best for you and your little one. Here are ten helpful techniques I have used when my baby fights nappy change time:
Remember how you loved talking to you baby while expecting? Well, when it’s time to change the nappy of your squirmy one, try channeling one-way conversation again.
Although it may feel awkward at first, talk out loud! For example, I always enjoyed narrating what I was doing like, “Okay, my sweet baby girl, let’s lay down and change your nappy… time to unsnap those buttons… pop, pop, pop!”
Using a positive, playful tone of voice, describing things as they happen and making amusing sounds, I was not only able to maintain my baby’s attention, but help grow their language skills.
If talking doesn’t quite work, that’s okay, try singing, playing peek-a-boo, stream music on your phone or making funny faces.
Art of Diversion
If you find yourself with a baby who fights their nappy change, one of the best things to do is DISTRACT! During a recent shopping trip with my sister and two babies in tow, she jokingly remarked how I reminded her of Mary Poppins, with my big bag full of random things that kept them entertained and behaved.
When changing your wriggly baby’s nappy at home, on the road or in a public restroom (cue the sweat), think ahead and be prepared. In considering routine, perhaps introduce a doll that only comes out during nappy changes.
Be Routine Oriented
Babies and children tend to thrive on predictability and structure. Since nappy changes are done numerous times throughout the day, try creating (and sticking to) a routine.
If your baby fights nappy change, consistency is key.
Whether it be first thing in the morning, after a bath or getting ready for bedtime, develop a sequence of events that you can repeat each and every time. Fear of the unknown, even for infants, can be stressful.
Creating familiarity may help instilling a sense of calm and control. Sustainable change doesn’t happen overnight, so try your best to be patient, persistent and forgiving of mishaps. We’re all human and tomorrow’s a new day.
As a parent, it’s important to be mindful of our facial expressions, attitude and behavior. Claire Lerner of ZERO TO THREE explains, “Babies figure out what’s going on in the world by watching parents’ reactions.”
For a moment, put yourself in your baby’s shoes. If you are wincing, cringing or gagging at the sight or sniff of a dirty nappy, think about how scary or upsetting that can be. Babies are constantly watching your nonverbal cues for reassurance and support.
Therefore, focus on expressing positivity through smiling, maintaining eye contact and giving lots of hugs and kisses before, during and after a nappy change.
Speed Always Helps When Baby Fights Nappy Change
Nappy changes get inherently difficult once babies begin rolling-over and moving independently. When you have a wriggly baby who fights their nappy change, you need to work smarter, not harder. Have everything you can possibly need within arm’s reach.
Time is of the essence, so open bottles, unscrew caps and unfold your nappy before attempting to settle your infant on the changing mat or table. Once everyone is in position, it’s go time! Work as fast as possible without compromising safety, cleanliness and those precious opportunities to engage.
If your one or two year old fights nappy changes, it may be time to consider involving them in the process. Instead of engaging in a wrestling match, empower them!
Give them choices like, “Do you want to hold your giraffe or blanket while I change you?” Have them hold a wet wipe, chose which pull-up to wear or even apply cream to their own bottom.
Throughout the change, express positive affirmations like, “You are such a good helper” or “I love how you hold still while I clean you up.” Psychologist, Jean Piaget, theorized that playing is important to a growing child’s cognitive development.
Tapping into that notion, let your toddler practice changing a doll’s nappy or create a silly game to play while changing theirs. By including your son or daughter, not only will you get the job done quicker, but they will feel proud of themselves.
Ask for Reinforcements
A wriggly baby who fights nappy change can leave you feeling defeated or burnt out over your child’s screaming or fussiness. If this is the case, there’s nothing wrong with asking for help. Next nappy change, call-on a spouse, another one of your children or a family member.
Be sure to express to them exactly what you need from them whether it’s keeping baby entertained, hand you essential items, actually do the change and/or be there for support. Pets can help too!
Change Is Okay If Your Baby Fights Nappy Change
New parents quickly learn to be flexible and adaptable. The same mentality holds true when talking about nappy changes. Most likely, what works today will not work forever. Your baby is continuously learning, growing and exploring the world.
So, if singing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” doesn’t work anymore, switch it up! Belt your favorite pop song, show tune or television theme song. When your infant begins to outgrow the changing table, move to the floor or near a window so they can see outside.
If you feel your toddler just isn’t listening to you, speak in a new accent to grab their attention. The point is, try new things because you never know what may stick.
According to Healthline.com, babies can go through approximately 3,000 disposable nappies within the first year of life. With that staggering number, it’s totally understandable if changing your baby can feel like a chore somedays.
Then add all of the time it takes to unclothe, wipe, apply cream, fasten the nappy and re-dress… just to do it all again in a few hours. No wonder you’re exhausted if your baby fights his/her nappy change!
When I began feeling burnt out from this never-ending cycle, I looked within and refocused my intention. Instead of viewing nappy changes as a task to “get through,” I began honoring it as sacred time to connect and bond with my daughters.
That shift in perspective was a personal ‘aha’ moment which then shaped my motherhood journey. Despite being tired, I had a beautiful baby and over time was able to learn how cherish each moment and live in the here and now.
Make It Your Own
As my girls got older, somehow we stumbled on a quirky ritual. After getting wiped clean, I noticed they would become antsy because they KNEW it was almost over. That’s when I would start counting down from 10 to 1 in a semi-loud, booming voice. Instantly, they would lock eyes with me, stop squirming and even chime in.
I didn’t learn that from a book or even a friend, it came from within and was authentically me. Celebrate small wins, get creative, embrace humor and learn to laugh at yourself and the situation.
Lesson is, be your amazing self.
Baby Fights Nappy Change? You Have The Tools To Help
We all know a fussy or wriggly baby can raise stress levels during a nappy change. Good news is that now you are equipped with some homegrown techniques on how to soothe a fussy baby when the going get tough.
At the end of the day, do what feels right and makes you comfortable. You know your child best. Although it may not always feel like it, you are doing an amazing job.
Yes, there are days that challenge, exhaust and stress us out to the max. But those are far outnumbered by the moments of unconditional love and pure bliss when you stare at your little one’s face and whisper, “how did I get so lucky?”
- Healthine.com, article entitled, “How Many Diapers Do I Need? A Guide to Stocking Up,” accessed via https://www.healthline.com/health/baby/how-many-newborn-diapers-do-i-need
- Parents.com, article entitled “Why is Routine Important for Babies,” accessed via https://www.parents.com/baby/care/newborn/why-is-routine-important-for-babies/
- ZERO TO THREE, article entitled, “Babies and Stress: The Facts,” accessed via https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/1709-babies-and-stress-the-facts
- WebMD.com, article entitled, “How To Talk To Your Baby,” accessed via https://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/baby-talk-language#1
- Pentagon for Learning and Play, article entitled “Psychology Behind Learning Through Play,” accessed via https://www.pentagonplay.co.uk/news-and-info/psychology-learning-through-playt.
About the Author
Nicole Giammarinaro is a proud wife and mom of two young girls. For over 15 years, she has worked full-time in healthcare as a registered nurse and administrator. Nicole enjoys spending quality time with her family, writing, bike riding and a sipping on perfect cup of tea.