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Stop the Diaper Changing Battles
By Elizabeth Pantley, Author of Gentle Baby Care

Babies are little bundles of energy! They don’t want to lie still to
have their diapers changed. They cry, fuss, or even crawl away. A
simple issue can turn into a major tug-of-war.

Diaper changing as a ritual
The position of parent and baby during a diaper change is perfect
for creating a bonding experience between you. You are leaning
over your baby, and your face is at the perfect arms-length distance
for engaging eye contact and communication. What’s more, this
golden opportunity presents itself many times during each day;
no matter how busy you both get, you have a few moments of
quiet connection. It’s too valuable a ritual to treat it as simply
maintenance.

Learning about your baby
Diapering offers a perfect opportunity for you to truly absorb your
baby’s cues and signals. You’ll learn how his little body works, what
tickles him, what causes those tiny goose bumps. As you lift, move,
and touch your baby, your hands will learn the map of his body and
what’s normal for him. This is important because it will enable you
to easily decipher any physical changes that need attention.

Developing trust
Regular diaper changes create rhythm in your baby’s world and
afford the sense that the world is safe and dependable. They are
regular and consistent episodes in days that may not always be
predictable. Your loving touches teach your baby that he is valued,
and your gentle care teaches him that he is respected.

A learning experience for your baby
Your baby does a lot of learning during diaper changes. It’s one of
the few times that she actually sees her own body without clothes,
when she can feel her complete movements without a wad of
diaper between her legs. Diaper-off time is a great chance for her
to stretch her limbs and learn how they move.

During changing time, your baby is also a captive audience to
your voice, so she can focus on what you are saying and how you
are saying it — an important component of her language learning
process. Likewise, for a precious few minutes, you are her captive
audience, so you can focus on what she’s saying and how she is
saying it — crucial to the growth of your relationship.

What your baby thinks and feels
Many active babies could not care less if their diapers are clean.
They’re too busy to concern themselves with such trivial issues. It
may be important to you, but it’s not a priority for your child.
Diaper rash or uncomfortable diapers (wrong size or bad fit) can
make him dread diaper changes, so check these first. Once you’re
sure all the practical issues are covered, make a few adjustments
in this unavoidable process to make it more enjoyable.

Take a deep breath
Given the number of diapers you have to change, it’s possible that
what used to be a pleasant experience for you has gotten to be
routine, or even worse, a hassle. When parents approach diaper
changing in a brisk, no-nonsense way, it isn’t any fun for Baby. Try
to reconnect with the bonding experience that diaper changing can
be -- a moment of calm in a busy day when you share one-on-one
time with your baby.

Have some fun
This is a great time to sing songs, blow tummy raspberries, or do
some tickle and play. A little fun might take the dread out of diaper
changes for both of you. A game that stays fresh for a long time is
“hide the diaper.” Put a new diaper on your head, on your shoulder,
or tucked in your shirt and ask, “Where’s the diaper? I can’t find it!”
A fun twist is to give the diaper a name and a silly voice, and use it
as a puppet. Let the diaper call your child to the changing station
and have it talk to him as you change it. (If you get tired of making
Mister Diaper talk, just remember what it was like before you tried
the idea.)

Use distraction
Keep a flashlight with your changing supplies and let your baby
play with it while you change him. Some kids’ flashlights have a
button to change the color of the light, or shape of the ray. Call
this his “diaper flashlight” and put it away when the change is
complete. You may find a different type of special toy that appeals
to your little one, or even a basket of small interesting toys. If you
reserve these only for diaper time, they can retain their novelty for
a long time.

Try a stand-up diaper
If your baby’s diaper is just wet (not messy), try letting her stand
up while you do a quick change. If you’re using cloth diapers, have
one leg pre-pinned so that you can slide it on like pants, or opt for
pre-fitted diapers that don’t require pins.

Time to potty train?
If your child is old enough and seems ready for the next step,
consider potty training.

This article is an excerpt from Gentle Baby Care by Elizabeth
Pantley. (McGraw-Hill, 2003). For more information, visit www.Pantley.com/Elizabeth


 

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