Making the most of all those diaper changes
How to Support Your Baby’s Developmental Growth During Routine Diaper Changes!
5000. That’s the average number of times a baby will have their diaper changed in the early years. Good grief, that’s a lot of diapers! Let’s not even go there about the money spent – just take a deep breath, call it the ‘cost of living with a child’, put it in the budget and move on. Let’s talk first about how long it takes…At an average of 5 minutes per change, times 10 a day with your tiny one or about 8 with your older baby, that’s nearly an hour a day just changing diapers!
It’s a good idea to make the most of this time together.- Think of it as a time to connect and enjoy each other. Diapering can give your baby a sense of security, a feeling of being respected and cared for, when approached with an attitude of cooperation and care.
Whether you’ve been changing diapers for a while, or a newbie, here are some tips for making diapering a positive time with your baby…
Be prepared in advance — have a changing space set up with all your supplies like diapers, fresh clothes, wipes, creams so that you won’t be caught with a mess and nothing to clean it with. Don’t forget hand sanitizer! You might want to have an alternative spot for changes in different places in the house to keep things simpler. Turn off your phone or leave it elsewhere while you diaper, communicating that you’re giving them your full attention.
Rather than checking the diaper and immediately scooping him up to go change the diaper, give a little advance notice. “Your diaper is soaked! In just a moment, we’re going to go change it.” If he’s busily playing, try to give a little time before interrupting.
Narrate what you’re doing, describe what’s going to happen next and invite participation. Remember to give a little ’tarry’ time so he can process what you’re saying. Cooperation along the way is possible, although it won’t always happen!
It might look like this…
“I want to take off your leggings, can you lift your bottom so I can pull them off?”
“Now let’s take off your diaper, can you pull the tabs?”
“Looks like you don’t want to, I’ll do it! Listen to the velcro as I pull.”
“Here’s your soiled diaper, I’m going to fold it up and put it in the bin.”
Show baby the wipe, “Now I’m going to wipe your bottom, the wipe is a little cold.
“Show baby new diaper. “Here’s a new diaper. Can you lift your bottom so we can put it on? Would you like to press the tabs?”
Once diapers on, “Let’s put your leggings back on. Can you lift this leg for me?” “How about the other leg?” “Let’s pull them up and we’re all done!”
Hold your hands out, “Are you ready for me to pick you up?”
As you can see, you can give your baby a chance to participate as you change their diaper. He may or may not be interested, of course. But what an opportunity for connection and communication! Your baby is learning lots of words through this simple process and you’ll see him respond increasingly as time goes on.
Once mobile, diapering can become a bit of a challenge as he won’t want to lay still. It’s not intentional, he’s not trying to get on your last nerve – he just has to move! So learn to change his diaper while he’s on all fours – no problem! Then a little later, when he’s walking, you can change his diaper while he’s standing up. All the while, keeping the narrative in mind – talking about what you’re doing, asking for participation and giving him time to process your requests and respond. Remember his little processor isn’t quite as quick as yours and taking a moment to pause allows him to make the connections needed.
Here’s what your baby learns in each area during diaper changes…
Babies can be active participants in diapering. They practice large muscle skills as they lift their bottom, their legs, lay down and sit up and small muscle skills as they work the tabs on their diapers, push the snaps or even help zip the zipper. Then of course, toilet learning requires children to use those splinter muscles… a process that takes some time!
Little children are curious about everything! Diapering and toileting holds many mysteries… How does my body work? Where does the water come from when I turn the faucet? Why does the water move when I flush? What happens to my poop when I flush? Diapering and toilet learning provides lots of opportunities for learning cause and effect, the foundation of cognitive development.
There’s a lot of one on one conversation in a diaper change. Your baby learns that you are listening and understanding them when you respond to their special cry that means they’re wet and uncomfortable. Vocabulary will increase as you narrate what you’re doing, talk about their body parts and invite them to participate in different steps of the change.
When young babies begin needing a diaper change at about the same time every day, they have taken an important step in regulating their own behavior. Self-regulation is one of the most important tasks in the first years. And he’ll learn a lot from all that face time with you, studying your expressions as you talk and play with him.
So there you go!
What seems like a task to “get through” so you can move on to the important stuff is actually an opportunity for so much connection and learning.
Next diaper change, invite your baby, regardless of how young they are, to participate in the ways described above. See what happens! I’d love your thoughts.
Until next time,