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Wriggling, kicking, screaming – anything can happen when little ones decide to assert their independence during diaper changes. Looking for ways to get your child to cooperate and make diapering time easier (and maybe even fun)? Here are strategies that have worked for other parents.
"Our kid is way too busy for diaper changes. He screams, kicks, and rolls around like an alligator overpowering its prey. We now have a special toy he only gets to play with during diaper changes. It keeps him calm."
"We put a mirror on the wall next to the changing pad so our son could look at himself. It worked wonders."
"My son hates being changed. He will cry and wriggle until he's free. He weighs almost 30 pounds and is very strong. I can only get him changed if his 3-year-old sister is talking to him or if I hand him the baby wipe bag."
Lean on screen time
"After a lot of trial and error we found a learning cartoon on YouTube. The videos are broken down into quick nursery rhyme songs that are the perfect length to get a change in. My daughter loves it. When the diaper change is over she gets up and waves bye-bye to the show and we shut it off."
"My son is high energy and tries to do a crocodile death roll whenever we change his diapers. When all other tactics started to fail, I resorted to using my phone propped on a bookshelf to play an educational video on YouTube. I know they say no screen time until age 2, but he loves the videos and it keeps me sane. I think the screen time gods understand."
Talk through it
"My son has autism and absolutely hates diaper changes. We tried everything: phone, music, toys, snacks, you name it. What helped him was talking him through how long it'll take, 'Mommy needs to change you. It will take 10 seconds.' We also explain what we're doing, 'Okay, let's take this diaper away and put a new one underneath it. Put one tab on, three more seconds!' Now that he knows the process and it's predictable to him, he doesn't resist at all."
"We talk our daughter through diaper changes. 'The rag is going to be cold while we wipe your bum. Now we're going to lift you up to put your diaper under. Now you're going to hear six snaps...' We also try to not interrupt her during playtime to get changed. Either we wait until she's done or we give her five minutes."
"I was at a loss for how to get our kid to cooperate during diaper changes. So I talked to my husband and he said he had no problems. When our son put up a fight, my husband would just put his hand on his middle and hold him gently, but firmly until he stopped. Then he'd say, 'It's time for a diaper change. Please be still.' Very quickly, our son got the picture. I tried it with the same result."
Bribe your bambino
"My daughter screams 'No!' and runs at every single diaper change. I try to explain why we have to change her diaper. If that doesn't work I bribe her. I don't like to use material things, so I promise activities instead. 'Once we change your diaper, we can do some painting,' or 'After we put on a clean diaper we can take a walk.' That's usually enough to get her to lie down and let me change her."
Sing a song
"My little one hates lying down. He cries and rolls around. The only thing that stops him is hearing me sing 'Everything Is Awesome' from The Lego Movie."
"My 21-month-old son hates diaper changes. Lately, singing a song has helped. He loves to sing. It's not even a real song, just something I made up about diaper changes, but he always joins in."
Try training pants
"It used to take two people change our son: One to hold his hands and feet, another to clean as fast as possible. When it was over he kept screaming and would attempt to slap the 'offenders.' Now I sit on the couch with him in front of me, pull down his disposable training pants, and wipe him as he stands leaning over my knee. Then he helps me put the new training pants on."
"My daughter went through a phase of hating diaper changes. She didn't like being made to lie down if it wasn't bedtime. We switched to disposable training pants, which she was a lot happier with because she could stand up for wet diaper changes. She knows she still has to lie down for the 'yuck or ew' diapers."
"I change my little one while he stands up. I kneel on my left knee and he holds on to my right knee, which is bent, while I wipe, prepare his diaper, and put it on him. It takes 10 seconds. Sometimes I change him while he's holding on to a couch, bed, or chair. It works great for us."
"Ever since my daughter learned to roll over, diaper changes have been a wrestling match. As soon as she was able to stand reliably we started doing diaper changes standing up. She still doesn't want to stand still for any length of time, but she's much more cooperative."
"Our son started pitching fits about being forced to lie down, so I learned how to change him standing up. Eventually we got him to the point where he would lie down with a pillow supporting his head while watching a video on my phone. Then, we transitioned him to only watching videos during poop changes (when the benefit of avoiding getting poop all over the floor outweighed the risk of him dialing Grandpa for the 78th time)."
Give a heads-up
"I level with my little guy and give him about a hundred warnings before I change him. It works about 75 percent of the time."
"We learned early on that if we just grabbed our son without warning and tried to change his diaper he would scream, kick, and wriggle. But if we give him advance warning he's totally fine with it and cooperates."
"When we notice he needs his diaper change we ask if we should change his diaper. He usually says no. Thirty seconds to a minute later we ask him again. The second or third time we ask, he'll be ready. After five minutes, if he doesn't give his okay, we tell him we really need to change his diaper and pick him up. He might complain a little, but will allow it."
Hire Mommy's little helper
"When it's diaper time I say, 'Okay, it's time to change your diaper, let's go to your room.' My son will go to his room and sit up on the table. The struggle used to come when he lay down.
Now I ask him to lie down. Then I hand him a container of bum cream. I do my business while he puts some cream on his finger. Then I ask him to help me put on bum cream, and he puts some bum cream on his penis (while saying 'penis' – he slays me). And I use his other jar of cream to finish the job and sit him up. I think he just likes to help! I make sure to wash his hands well afterward."
"I used to literally have to hold my daughter down. It was horrible. Now I try to make the whole process as fun as possible. I say, 'diaper change' and she'll grab her pillow, changing mat, a diaper, and wipes. I let her hand me the wipes. Yes I know she pulls out way more than I will actually use, but it keeps her still for the 20 seconds I need to clean her up. Afterward she throws away her own diaper and claps her hands."
Lose the diapers
"We had been working on potty training while I was home at night and my son wasn't doing great. But one morning when he was 17 months old, I was trying to put his cloth diaper back on and he wouldn't let me, so I put underwear on him – and that's what he's worn ever since."
"At my child's 18-month checkup her doctor suggested we push potty training a little more. (She had used the potty before, but not routinely.) This drastically reduced her diaper changing fits."
"When we got a wipe warmer, diaper changes went from screaming with tears of pain and frustration to laughs and relaxation. Our son gets bad rashes and the warmth of the wipe really helped. I wish I'd known earlier."
"My son would start to cry the minute we headed for the changing table. I think he associated it with discomfort because we also clean his nose and clip his nails there. After that I focused on making the changing table more fun. We make getting dressed a game, we play and giggle, do nail clipping and on the couch, and he gets to read a book while I change him. He no longer dreads being changed."
Get off the table
"We got rid of the changing table setup when our daughter started walking. We now change her in the living room and store everything in a stylish ottoman. It's discreet and no one is the wiser."
"I go with the flow. If he wants to stand up, I change him standing up. If he wants to crawl, I change him on the move. I have found it’s a lot easier to do what he wants instead of trying to make him lie down."
"We can only change on the floor. I have everything ready to go and try to wait until my daughter comes to me, rather than just picking her up and trying to make her lie down."
"I always do a diaper change in sections. After we have a clean baby, I pick her up and move her to the bed to put the diaper on. The change of places usually gives me enough time to put it on without disaster. Of course, this only works when they are older and don't pee everywhere all the time!"
"My son wriggles and fights and grabs at everything while screaming. My husband has sung him the alphabet at bedtime since he was a baby. Now we sing it during diaper changes to soothe him and it works."
"My daughter screams at the top of her lungs. A bloodcurdling 'I've been shot!' kind of scream. If it's a poopy diaper, someone usually ends up wearing it and it's not my daughter. But if I can extend the ABCs to cover her entire diaper change we're usually good."
"My little one tries her best to wriggle away from diaper changes while kicking and grabbing at everything in reach. One day, to stop myself from losing it, I started counting from one to 10 very loudly and slowly. She was mesmerized and immediately stopped wriggling. It was like magic. We do that during most diaper changes and now that she's getting older, she's learning to count with me."
Speed it up
"My child hated diaper changes for the longest time. I just had to learn how to be quick. Now if I tell her to go get a 'new butt' she will go get a new clean diaper."
"My son had a hydrocele repair when he was a year old. He's hated diaper changes ever since. His doctor thinks he's just extremely sensitive from surgery and it will get better with time. I've gotten super fast to minimize his discomfort."
"I have my 15-month-old get her diaper and wipes from a dresser drawer that she can easily access. That way she feels more involved in the process. I change her on the floor and if she's really energetic and tries to get up, I gently place my feet on her arms to pin her down while I quickly change her."
"I usually give my son a wipe or toy to play with. If that doesn't work, I lightly put my leg on him so he can't roll."