Berkeley Parents Network
Google Custom Search
Home Members Post a Msg Reviews Advice Subscribe Help/FAQ What's New

Diaper Changing Troubles

Berkeley Parents Network > Advice > Babies > Diaper Changing Troubles


Questions Related Pages

18 mo. old hates to be changed

Feb 2009

My 18 month old son absolutely hates to have his diaper and/or clothes changed by either my husband or myself. About 80% of the the time that we provide him with personal care he will throw a tantrum, scream, writhe, twist, making mornings and evenings very difficult for all of us. I have read Harvey Karp's Happiest Toddler book and have unsuccessfully attempted to use his Toddler-ese with my son. I have tried distraction, turning it into a game, giving him choices, using a timer, changing him while standing up, you name it. We may have success with one method for a short period of time, but we have not found anything to successfully deal with this issue. Any suggestions would be welcomed. Thank you, Jill


We tried role-play. So prior to every change a favorite doll would get a diaper change with our little one helping out with wiping or entertaining the stuffed toy or doll so they could have a good diaper change. Lots of praise was heaped on the stand in for our child. (I suppose one could go further and offer a reward or sticker or something). Then it was 'your turn.' Also reading everyone poops and spending a lot of time on the page that shows a diaper change and then a more mature child on the toilet, just to plant the idea that diapers were only a short few years more of our life together. anon
I had a very similar problem with my girl at the same age. I told her that she had two choices to be changed or to go potty in the potty. And then she started to go on her own in the potty. I know it sounds young but she she stopped fighting the changes and by the time she was 2 she was completely potty trained all on her own. I hope this helps
Our son was also really protesting diaper changes. Which was esp. difficult when it was a bm and he was fighting against us the whole time. My solution: make it really fun and build up the diaper change as a great thing. Yes, we actually dance in a sort of conga line, pumping our arms in the air saying ''let's go change that diaper!'' over and over on our way to his bedroom (where the changing table is). Now all I have to say is ''let's go change that diaper! let's go change that diaper!'' and he starts pumping his arms in the air and dancing towards his room and the changing table.(I think that's part of it too, having him walk in there and not carrying him.) Oh and I reserve the whole conga line thing for bm changes so that it doesn't get old to fast. Good luck! Jessica

16-month-old daughter kicks, screams, and wrestles

March 2007

Hi all: I need to know if any of you have experienced this as a '' phase'' or if it is something I should be worried about... my daughter is 16 mos. Happy, fun and generally in a good mood. Lately, in the past 3-4 days, she has been throwing an absolute fit when we try to change her diaper. This is brand new. It is not all the time, but mostly in the morning. She kicks, screams and wrestles her way off the changing table and it becomes a huge power struggle. I can generally calm her down but the tears are huge and real and she gets very upset very quickly. This is so out of the norm for her, I'm a little freaked out.

I'm not sure if this is a new phase and she's asserting some independence or if this is something to be concerned about. I work 4 days/week and she has a nanny that we LOVE, who has been with us for a year (and we've known her for 3). I guess because it seems it's a diaper thing I'm worried - did something weird happen? She has no rash or irritation, and everything is ''working'' just fine... I asked my nanny and she said no, nothing out of the ordinary has happened, and I do believe her. But what could be causing this new, strange behavior? Is this a toddler thing? Has anyone seen this before? Thanks in advance! Worried mom, maybe overreacting!


Our daughter did that around the same age too. (And she's with us all the time, so I know that nothing weird happened.) I was also worried, but it turned out to be a phase lasting maybe a couple of weeks. What I did was find a new and interesting object for her to examine during diaper changes. As I walked to the changing table, I'd pick up something she wouldn't usually have access to and she'd keep busy with that while I changed her diaper. Within a few weeks, it passed and now diaper changes are pretty much back to normal. Sarah
It is probably just a phase. I can't remember the exact age, but I remember my daughter doing the same thing. All the advice in the archives is useful--try distracting her with a song or a toy, and try to maintain a calm, soothing demeanor even when she is freaking out. This too shall pass.
mine does the same thing. and my nanny says he is fine for her. i think it is a control thing. sometimes i try the tv during the changes and it sometimes helps. i think most of the time it is that they are busy with something and don't want to be interrupted. good luck! anon
Mine did this. I tried to make it fun, and catch her at good moments, and sneak in the diaper change as quickly as possible. when in a hurry, I did have to hold her down a few times. She got over it.
This is a total toddler thing. Exact same thing happened with our ''easy-going'' son at about the same age. 100% normal. What worked for us -- worked so amazingly well I couldn't believe it -- was, when my son needed a diaper change, I would set a timer for a minute or two, and tell him ''when the beep comes, we will change your diaper.'' I read it in a book somewhere, and the first time I tried it, my son walked to the diaper table by himself and stood there waiting for me. No fuss at all. This may or may not work for you -- who knows. Kids are constantly going through new phases, and parents are always having to try stuff until they find a method that works. Just when you get this one figured out, something new will happen. Karen

2.5 year old DREADS diaper changes

Nov 2006

My two and a half year old absolutely hates having his diaper changed! He refuses to lie down, come over to me, listen or respond whenever he has a dirty diaper and it is time to change it. I will tell him to lie down, (we change him on the floor now since he is so big) and he will completely ignore me- this is the only time he behaves this way. He squirms and cries and pouts until it is over and then it's like it never happened. I have only been able to find advice concerning younger children, if anyone has any similar experiences or advice, please respond. We are so tired of trying to explain to him why we can't leave ''poopy diapers'' on! Thanks, sorry for the gross subject!
Dreading Diaper Changes!


How old is your son? Well, really if he's walking around and that verbal/physical I'm guessing he's at least 1 year. Have you considered potty training him? This is your chance! If he hates diapers get him out of them - start now before he gets attached and you have to continue changing poop for years to come. Our son was potty trained by 20 months and our daughter is on her way at 18 months. I'm not a huge no diaper lady but it's great to have toddlers out of diapers.

Spend a weekend with no bottoms on (your son, not you) and all your time at home. Get a little potty (our son loved the red one by baby bjorn) and one for the car too. Tell your son, ''No more diapers, you're a big boy now you can go in the potty!'' Encourage him to poop and pee in the potty. Get some library books from the children's section on the topic or videos if you do TV. Make sure everyone in the house is encouraging him to use the potty. Make a BIG deal out of success to help him get the idea that going in the potty is WAY more fun than going in a diaper. After 1 weekend of no pants and active potty training you should be home free (for awake times). Night (and maybe nap) you may still have a diaper but that's only for sleeping and comes off the second he's awake. Every time you're at home take the clothes off on the bottom as much as possible until he really has it down. Then get him some cool underwear that he'll be so proud to wear now that he's a big potty trained boy.

There is a great class in SF by a wonderful teacher named Julie Fellom. She teaches potty training techniques and classes for parents. Her number is (415)971-4963. She guarantees your child will be potty trained after using her methods. Many of her classes are held at her school in the Castro/Noe Valley area and others at More Mojo on Church St and Clipper Ave. Good luck! Mom of 2


Here's what i did--give up all diapers changes unless really needed! It's amazing how long those diapers can last, and really, no one is any the worse. We have naked time every day with our toddler to make sure she gets aired out and doesn't develop a rash. Once I gave up insisting on pee-diaper changes, the poop ones are a breeze. I still ask every so often if i can change a pee diaper, and she mostly says no. we have occasional leaks, but it's much, much better than the stress and battles for both of us when i was trying to change diapers more regularly. Now, when she poops, she knows it needs to be changed and does it w/o any fuss. I think bc i'm not insisting that she do it other times, she is more willing to go along w/ the poop changes. good luck anon
It sounds like it might be time to start potty training. This would sounds like a great time for both of you. He may start wanting to be more independent and using the toilet will help him be more independent. Good luck! Rachel
Why don't you try and potty train him instead? JOJ
My 2-year-old also hates diaper changes, but she's the same about most transitions (changing clothes, going out, washing up for meals, etc.). We have no magic solutions, but we've found that a combination of relentlessness and distraction works - sort of. We announce that she must have a diaper change, and keep repeating it every few minutes over the course of about 20 minutes, during which time we set up the diapering area. If she seems to be okay with it at any point during that period, we go ahead immediately, but if she resists, we let her go without fuss, but repeating firmly and monotonously, ''your diaper needs to be changed''. She usually will give in during that 20-30-minute window. My impression is that she just falls into this anti-change groove, and usually 20-30 minutes is long enough for her to forget that she's in that groove. If we make the issue a big deal, and trying to force her, the situation escalates out of control, and she's gotten to define the situation). If we give in and let her go unchanged for longer than that, she's again gotten to define and control the situation(the prize being the pleasure of sitting in her own feces, I guess - yay!). It usually works. (When it doesn't, I've no idea what I ought to do. I've done some awful parenting things, like holding her down by sheer force while my husband changes the diaper, so I'm really in no position to offer advice!) Also Battling The Terrible Twos
It wasn't my finest moment, but I finally just held my 13 month-old son down for his diaper change. I held him down pretty firmly and it seemed a little harsh, but it only took a few times and now he cooperates. I thank him and praise him for cooperating every time. no longer dreading diapering
Your lucky you were able to get him to lay down as long as you did! At about 20 months the only way we could change our son's diapers was with him standing up. It's much easier. They're just too active to want to lay down.

Also, he's old enough to begin potty training, so why not get him to sit on a potty and he gets a reward if he does something in the potty (sticker for pee, an M&M, etc. for poop). Take him to the store and let him pick out some big boy underwear. We let our son watch a potty video while sitting on the potty, which was the only way to get him to sit still long enough to do something in it. All of this was done consistently and he was delighted to be out of diapers by 27 months. anon


our son did that. we found that stickers helped. I made him a sticker sheet and got some stickers at the store. when it was time to change diapers or brush teeth he got to pick out a sheet he liked. then he would hold the sheet and look at the stickers while I did the deed. if he started kicking I'd take the sheet away and give it back if he promised to cooperate. afterward he would choose a sticker and put it on his sheet. If all else failed, I'd hold him down with my legs and change him while he struggled. Its just a stage and it does pass. ilona
Sounds like there are already lots of supporters in the potty training camp, I just wanted to state that my 22 month old goes naked at home and is accident free about 90% of the time. So if you are wondering if your son can learn the control at this age, the answer is probably yes. We did infant potty training and have been working on it since age 6 months, in part because my first child was such a BEAR to diaper. It was like a triathalon each time. I hade to pin her shoulders down with my feet! A great source of info is www.diaperfreebaby.org. Potty training is just a pain no matter when you start, I say the sooner you start, the sooner you get it over with. The advice about staying home with a bare bottom is right on track. It's kind of like housebreaking a puppy if you can get started while your son's animal instincts are still in tact! Diaper Ditcher

11 month old goes beserk during diaper changes

April 2006

Our 11-month-old daughter is opinionated, and she is LOUD. I mean, adult-in-a-horror-film screams that everyone on the block can hear! She started out that way from the first minute after birth, cranked it up a notch during a 6-week collic phase early on, and now she reserves her ear-piercing screams for diaper changes. White noise from the blow drier during diaper changes quieted her in the first 6 months. We have tried everything we can think of to distract her--singing, tickling, talking to her, blowing zerbits on her tummy and feet, changing her on the floor or crib, putting a bird feeder outside the window beside the changing table, giving her toys or the pacifier (she throws it on the floor, it makes her so upset), and making sure she is warm and comfy. She still wakes up several times a night, and I dread diaper changes emmensely because it is so frustrating and stressful I can't get back to sleep.

Also, she is experimenting with loud shrieks when she is really excited and happy. I thought it was just a phase, but she's been doing it for a month now. We try to ignore it, hoping she will see that it doesn't benefit her, but it hasn't worked. Any advice on how to discourage this behavior? jeanine


I would say that unless she is getting diaper rash, there is no need to change her at night. That might help at least reduce the drama. We never had that, but we stopped changing her at night unless she pooped. hope that helps
I don't really have much advice about the diaper changes per se because my daughter hates 'em also, though I don't think she shrieks quite as loud, but I did notice one point slipped in there among everything else. You say ''She still wakes up several times a night, and I dread diaper changes emmensely because it is so frustrating and stressful I can't get back to sleep.''

Maybe I'm a terrible mom, but I don't change my daughter's diaper at night unless she has poop. I don't think most of my friends change their kids' diapers at night either. Just stick 'em in a paper diaper and let 'em pee all night. Unless, that is, you think your baby's waking up at night has to do with her diaper being wet, which I doubt. good luck


two thoughts -
1. cheerios - let her pick one up with her hand before you lay her down and then keep a stash nearby so that when she is done with one you can let her pick up another
2. are you using disposables at night? we use cloth all day but at night, our 10-month-old doesnt generally poop ( i tihk most babies dont), and the disposables help him keep feeling dry. He goes down at about 7pm and is up at about 7am, with several night wakings, and we never change a diaper at night.
I noticed you mention diaper changes during the night. Are these absolutely necessary? Maybe if you are using cloth diapers you could switch to disposables at night. They can hold a lot of liquid. Our daughter usually sleeps in the same diaper for about 11 hours, sometimes more. I know this doesn't solve your bigger issues, but at least it might save you some stress in the wee hours. anon
Our daughter doesn't go 'beserk' during diaper changes, but certainly cries. What we have found calms her, and even makes her enjoy the experience is to turn a hair dryer on! The warm air helps dry her bum, and the noise somehow calms her. Good luck. Scott

9-month-old has to be held down for diaper changes

May 2003

I have big problems with changing the diaper of my energetic 9- months old son! He absolutely hates being on his back, he rather crawls away disovering the world. I find it too difficult to change him while he stands up (he is not that stable while standing). So far, I had to hold him down by force each time (which makes him cry a lot), and I feel so bad each time. Does anyone have any suggestions? Am I the only one with this problem? Thank you for any ideas! Charlotta


My son started doing the same thing at about the same age (he's now approaching his first birthday). I've found that distracting him with a toy usually works -- it doesn't even have to be a toy per se, just any convenient object that I can hand to him, like a clean diaper, or a plastic clothes hanger. If that doesn't work, singing to him usually distracts him enough that he stops squirming -- he stares at me like I'm nuts, but as long as he's not squirming, that's fine with me! -- not a candidate for American Idol )
I think almost all kids go through a phase like this; mine certainly did. Basically, I just got good at changing while he was standing. If he was just wet, I would rip his diaper off while he was running around, and then spread out the new diaper. I would find something to occupy his attention (I would let him look at something on a shelf, or give him a new object to play with, or something), and then really quickly put the diaper on his bottom and slap the tapes on any which way -- I never really worried about how centered the thing was. Poop was harder; this did involve holding him down for a minute or so until I got him clean. Then, same as before. If it helps any, my son grew out of it in a couple of months; I think he learned I was serious about it, and he got to where he would lie still (though he never loved it like he did when he was 6 months old or so). He's now 2, and we're going through another difficult time; he's much more coordinated now, so I have to work with his psychology (bribe him, point out what we can do ONLY AFTER his diaper is changed, etc.). Karen
This is not unusual. It gets harder as they get more mobile. A couple suggestions be fast, have everything ready to go, a quick wipe for pee will do, you can remove pee diapers in any position, and just put him quickly on his back to put on the diaper. Find new songs to sing while you change him. Smile, act like it's fun. Keep a small collection of cheap new toys to pull out for this occasion to distract. My daughter was once totally mesmerized by some pictures a friend had next to her changing table. Try posting pictures. And just accept that it's a little harder and set your frustration aside. mary
How funny -- I was just talking to a friend of mine about this! She too has an energetic baby and she felt bad because of the ''diaper torture.'' My son used to do the same thing. I used to practically *sit* on him. I loved the snappi clips for the cloth diapers because I could put his diaper on while he was rolling around. I also used pull-on diaper covers instead of the velcro because it was easier to put on (usually the cover was put on while he was trying to crawl/run away). So I totally feel for you. For a while I tried disposable diapers because I thought it would be easier, but it ended up being just as bad. My bbay would scream and cry, and then as soon as it was over, he fine, like nothing had ever happened. Jekyll and Hyde, man.

I sometimes saw other parents looking at me like I was abusing my child, but then I saw how docile their children were during diaper changes and I realized why! Don't sweat it. Obviously you need to change your baby's diaper, so the kid just has to deal with it. Try to keep calm yourself, breathe, and eventally your kid will grow out of it. Although it took my kid about a year -) I feel your pain


I had the same trouble with my daughter when she really got into crawling 2-3 months ago. The topic was on the parents list at this time, and someone else suggested playing with little flutes, pipe, singing (whatever you can do with your mouth while changeing the baby with your hands). Distraction generally doesn't work well from my daughter, so I modified the diapering style; no texbook diapering anymore (see below for details).

A few weeks after the diapering trouble started two things changed

1. She can stand up well enough on her own, so that I can change her standing up. Very convenient. Can be done anywhere, such as on the sidewalk, in a public bathroom etc.

2. She accepts being changed lying down again. Wow, that's the last thing I expected.

Now she is 11 months and the whole thing is not an issue anymore. Some problems just come and go... Here is what I stared doing when diapering became so difficult

During the day no cover, just the cloth diaper attached to my daughter's waist with an elastic band (not to tight, but tight enough, doesn't need to be sawn, just 1/2-1 inch wide from the fabric store, find out hte rigth length and make a knot).

At night, two diapers under her, which can be changed if she pees. (She usually doesn't do that anymore, actually, if I give her the occasion to pee in a bowel when she wakes up for nursing. That may be during or after the nursing.) To protect the matress, a thick woolen blanket, folded twice. Works great. She doesn't have to be in wet diapers at night anymore. She never had a diaper rash or irritated skin since we started doing this. For a boy you may want to put one on top, too, to protect the blanket.

It certainly helps that far most of her poop goes directly into the potty, so I hardly have to clean a poopy bottom. (We use, to some extend, the diaper free approach since she is about 6 months. For more about that see http//timl.com/tt/ and http//www.natural-wisdom.com) Good luck, Julia


I too have an energetic baby and I don't think I have changed him laying down since he was about 9 months old (he is 15 months old now.) You are right that it's not worth having an unpleasant experience every time you change him. I change my son standing up. Before he was stable I stood him up at one of those toys that have the big colorful keys that make music when you press them. I'd get him involved with the toy so I'd know that he was going to stand for a few minutes and have everything ready so I could change him fast. Two things happened over time, I got really good at changing him standing up and he got used to the routine. Any toy he likes to stand up at will do. Now that he walks I have a lot more options (including watching a video) but I've found it is easy as long as he is preoccupied and therefore not focused on fighting me. Now at 15 months old, my son will sometimes lie down to get his diaper changed because it is different and he thinks it is fun. For very messy diapers I have been able to bribe him to lay down by offering him some forbidden object that I don't usually let him have, the camera for example. Good luck! Danielle
As the mother of 3 boys (now thankfully out of diapers after 10 years!) I can relate to your situation. I have two suggestions - first for the long haul you need to make it clear to your son that he needs to be lying down when you change him. If you can stick to your guns now, it will pay off when he is older, bigger, and stronger. As for how to do it, I alway kept a stash of stuff - books, small toys, an unbreakable mirror, etc near the diaper changing area - not be to be played with at other times to preserve the novelty. Hand him one while you change him. You can also promise rewards if he can be still while you change him - like reading a story or playing with him. Good luck! Another mom

10-month-old's challenging diaper changes

March 2004

My 10 mth old has begun challenging us with every diaper change. At first I would be able to distract him with a toy or singing while changing him, but this no longer works. The moment I lay him down to change him, he screams, cries, and tries to crawl away. It now takes both my husband and I to change him (one holds him down while the other changes him). Do you have any advice on how to get him to accept his diaper changes so that he is happy and we are happy? Renee


We have had the same diaper challenges since our son was about that age (he's now 18 months), but now I can usually circumvent the struggling (but not always). It has taken a lot of creativity. Things that sometimes work (and sometimes don't - I often just try one after another until something works):
* bouncing him around and getting him really happy right before putting him on the changing table (and then being goofy while I change his diaper, to keep him happy)
* giving him his shoe to play with
* keeping a stash of new little toys to hold his interest right by the changing table - legos, a nalgene bottle for him to unscrew, a flashlight that he can turn on and off, a book.
* letting him hold onto his sippy cup
* goofy songs, especially those which require a big kiss, a raspberry, or chewing on his feet.
* making silly noises - he tends to latch onto certain words that he thinks are funny: ''squishy'', ''gooey goo'', ''scratchy'', you gt the idea.
* if I'm changing his clothes too, doing as much of that *off the changing table* as I can.

I have heard of other mothers nursing while they change the baby's diaper, but I haven't done this.

I have also noticed that he really needs me to be consistent. So, if he squiggles around and turns over 10 times, then I will turn him back over 11 times, telling him each time that I need him to lie on his back so I can give him a fresh diaper. I also tell him that soon, he will use the potty instead of diapers, and he won't need diaper changes anymore. I don't think he understood that at 10 months (he does now) but I told him anyway.

Last thing - it has definitely been the case for us that he struggles more with me than with my partner or with his grandmother. In fact, he hardly struggles at all with his grandmother. This really used to bother me, until I realized that it doesn't have to do with me being less able to handle his diaper changes. It is part of testing his boundaries, and he needs to test them more with me than with others because that's my role... we still nurse, and we are very close, and he is trying to figure out how far he can push me away and still have me. Jen


My son started the same thing, a bit later (around 14 months), and the thing that saved me was a magic trick I discovered called ''setting the beep.'' Basically, this meant that, when I needed to change my son's diaper, I told him that I was going to set the beep, and when it went off it would be time for a diaper change. I then set the timer on my microwave for 2-3 minutes, and when the beep went off, he happily followed me downstairs and we changed his diaper with no fuss (this trick works for all kinds of other transitions too -- getting out of the bathtub, getting dressed...). I don't know if 10 months old is too early for this to work, but it might be worth a try. Karen
My son has fought during diaper changes since he was 4 months old, and this is what I've done:
1. Sometimes, changing him standing up is easier.
2. Give him things he normally isn't allowed to play with that fascinate him (my watch, a penlight, junkmail, etc.)
3. Vary the location often -- sometimes the changing table, the floor, the bed, etc.
4. Buy a helium filled mylar balloon and float it over the changing table
5. Play special games, like blowing on his tummy, only at changing time.
6. Let him crawl around diaperless some of the time (watching for puddles).
7. When all else fails, hold his shoulders down with your feet while you change him. Good luck with it! Jennifer R.
My 11 month old daughter is also a challenge to change, although not quite as bad as your son. I have a few suggestions for you to experiment with. The main thing, I think, is variety and novelty. (And, of course, speed.) No approach will always work. Most likely the same technique won't even work two times in a row. You have to have several tricks up your sleeve so that if distraction #1 doesn't work, you can try distraction #2 instead.

Here are some things to try: You mentioned singing. Have you or your husband tried punching it up a notch with exaggerated hand motions, belly flubbers or blowing raspberries?

Peek-a-boo. I sometimes throw a washcloth or cloth diaper over my daughter's face and when she pulls it off I yell ''peek-a- boo'' and put it back on. She usually likes it. It works for a little while.

Playing with forbidden items. I'll sometimes offer her things that I usually try to keep away from her. For example, she covets her big brother's toothbrush and my hairbrush and comb. This works until the novelty wears off and then you have to try something new. Raid your kitchen cabinets for intriguing tools he hasn't explored yet.

Try having your husband blow bubbles at him.

Sticky things. Try giving him a rolled up piece of tape (sticky side out) or a band-aid to play with. Food. Try giving him food he can hold himself that isn't too messy, like crackers or pretzel sticks. (Only works if he's hungry, obviously.)

Standing. Have you tried changing him while he's standing? I don't recommend this when he's poopy, but I frequently changed my son this way when he was wet and have now started to change my daughter this way too. She loves to look out the window, so I will stand her in front of the sliding glass door or on the couch under the window so she can look out while being changed. Also, I'll provide a running dialogue about things she might be seeing. This seems to help.

Hang something intriguing over the changing table. Maybe you could tack a piece of string or elastic to the ceiling. Then attach something that he might like to watch. Blow on it or push it so it swings around. Try a balloon or spiral paper twirly or shiny toy that wiggles.

Good luck! Hopefully this is just a phase and it will get easier for you with time. Hang in there. Aimee


I think there are suggestions in the archives. Most say - learn to do it while your child is standing up. another mom
Our 8-month old son has severe eczema and when we change his diaper he wants to scratch his exposed itchy legs HARD -- and he screams, kicks and cries when we pull his hands away (it's a two-person job). Putting socks on his hands minimizes the damage to his skin when there's no one around to help. Like your son, he vigorously tries to roll/crawl away during the process, so you're not the only one. We do change his diaper on the floor now since it was too dangerous on the changing table with his constant movement. Good luck. Mom of wiggle worm

Cloth diapering a squirmy, mobile 14-month-old

May 2002

I have been a big fan of cloth diapers, hoping to avoid the gels and chemicals in disposables, and avoid adding to the landfills. Our daughter's skin has been in excellent condition using cloth diapers and baby calendula cream. She has, however, gotten very squirmy and difficult to diaper since around 10 months of age. (She is 14 months now.) I've found that there are times, especially in public, when it is easier to use disposables, because it requires one less layer, and we can put them on her while she is standing up. I have tried the more environmentally sound disposable diapers, and they do not hold the pee and poop (without leaking) as well as the gel types. So we are using cloth about 50%, but I am torn between my ideals and what works functionally for our family. What do other parents do for diapering squirmy tots? (I'm new to this list. Sorry if this question had been discussed before.) --On-the-Run Diapering Service


We used to diaper our daughter standing up, after a little practice, and a cloth in velcro cover could be done that way. Also there are ''all in one diapers,'' cloth diapers sewn into a velcro cover that are so easy to get on, we had a few Bumpkins brand that could be used out or overnight with no leaks and elastic didn't cut into chubby thighs. They are pricey though and the other downside is they take a long time to dry in dryer. I have heard Kushies all-in-ones cover part does not hold up well after rigorous washings. There are probably a few other brands making this type, as well. Thirdly Tushies makes two diapers, one seems to leak immediately, the other is quite thick and can last as long as other disposables. If you have diaper service they probably carry both and can tell you which is the very thick ''overnight'' one. They were a little stiff and scratchy but nice for traveling, etc. We also ended up using disposables more than we thought we would and noticed Target and Safeway brands had velcroish tabs AND did not leak that nasty gel or smell toxic like others(although they contain the same chemicals as others.) A little distraction might help on occasion, like maybe a stuffed animal can put on the diaper or sing to her.... czeb
I've had two of those kinds of kids. I stopped using cloth diapers for a while as a result but felt guilty and went back to cloth. Here's how to wrestle a wriggly baby for diaper changes: Put baby on floor. Adult sits perpendicular to baby and puts leg (or legs, depending on how wriggly baby is) over baby's chest and/or abdomen. Whip diaper off, wipe quickly and efficiently, and put diaper on. I currently use snap diapers and diaper covers so once I get the diaper on I can rest and have another go. Usually I can put the cover on while the kid is standing up and this often stops the screaming. However, I used to use a diaper service and once I got the snappi clip on, I could rest and prepare for getting the cover on. I did buy some pull-on covers which made the diaper changing sessions much easier to handle -- now my daughter likes to dress herself so at least putting the cover on is fun for her. It does make it challenging when you're in public places but I don't have any suggestions for that. Laurel
Have you tried an all-in-one diaper? They have the waterproof cover part built right in. The Bumkins brand are my favorite. They velcro on like a disposable, come in a variety of cute prints, and are as easy to use as pampers. There are a variety of places to buy them on-line: try www.naturalbabies.com or www.bumkins.com. Catherine
There are several brands of cloth diapers that are shaped like disposables and close with velcro or snaps. Kissaluvs (kissaluvs.com) are very trim, very absorbent wonderful sherpa/terry diapers. They cost about $10 and they're worth it. Snugglebottoms (babybunz.com) are fuller cut flannel diapers that velcro closed. They're $2 or $3 each and work very well. Elisa
I also use cloth diapers, I often bring Kushies ''all in one'' diapers with me when I may need to change my child in public. The Kushies diapers have the diaper and cover all in one piece. There is no need for a separate cover. It's virtually as easy to use as a disposable, you can use a diaper doubler, also made by Kushies, to increase absorbency. They cost $8 apiece so I have cheaper diapers for regular use. Regarding the gel versus the non-gel disposables, the gel diapers are definitely more absorbent but I would still prefer to use non-gel diapers and just change them more often. Mary.
Regarding diapering a squirmy toddler. I also use cloth diapers for my kids, and unfortunately, they get to a squirmy stage. It helps to have a toy or sippy cup or something to distract them while you're changing them. Sometimes I try to ''reason'' with her and say be still and it'll just take a minute. But sometimes I just have to hold down my daughter's legs to prevent her from getting up and do the diaper as fast as I can. Yes, it can take a couple of efforts before the whole thing is over, but I wouldn't give up cloth just because of it. When there's someone else around, you can have that person hold your son while you diaper. Good luck. Erica
I have cloth diapered three wiggly babies up to 3 years old for the two boys and there's the two year old girl now. I don't know what sort of covers you are using. For me, the easiest are those covers that have velcro side straps WITHOUT additional metal snaps. That way, you don't have to have a perfect attachment on each side. Besides for me, the snaps end up popping off -very frustrating. I'll prefold the cloth diaper into the cover and while the baby is standing up (they don't like to be on the change table either), I'll just put on the diaper, get those velcro sides shut and voila, done. Make sure you are using an adequately sized cover, too. If your baby is between sizes, it's easier to use a larger size and make the adjustments than to try to squeeze her into a cover too small. LIz
[Editor Note] Additional replies to this question are posted under Diapers: Cloth vs. Disposable

16-month-old's Meltdowns during diaper and clothing changes

March 2002

My normally sweet 16-month-old son completely melts down when I change his diaper and clothes. He does not do this for our share care nanny. Sometimes he cries and thrashes so wildly that I have to take deep breaths to remain calm as I work desperately to get him into his diaper and pajamas. The past three nights he was so upset that he could not stop crying, forcing us to forego our bedtime reading routine. (Each night he calmed down after I rocked him a few minutes and put him into his crib to sleep.) Any advice?


You didn't mention if you've been trying to distract him. Give him a small toy to play with as you pick him up and put him on the changing table, start singing a song, or chanting something... you'll need new material regularly. And keep smiling! I recently learned in a parenting workshop that babies and toddlers can't focus on more than one thing at a time, so distracting/engaging them before you attempt anything they might not like really can work. I've been using it with some success lately, getting my 2-yr-old into her highchair. Also, you could try changing him somewhere other than the changing table. I now have supplies of diapers/wipes in several locations around the house. good luck. mary
I would ask myself how long this has been going on; if there are any other behavioral changes you have noticed. Keep notes on what you observe/frequency/time of day/etc. What other people change your child's diaper and clothes? Is it possible that he is responding to unpleasant experiences in those situations? Have you investigated to be sure sexual abuse isn't taking place? (In this situation all parties having any contact with the child should be considered, even the most trusted family members). After collecting all the details I would talk to your child's pediatrician. a Mom
When my son used to be colicky, I chose a song to sing when he was content or relaxed, and then also sang it during his diaper-changes and fussy periods, and now even months later it still helps him calm down sometimes. It never worked every single time, but singing, or sometimes adding aloud (''1+1 is 2, 2+1 is 3, 3+1 is 4'' etc.) generally helped me stay calm enough to not let his craziness rub off on me, and thus make him even more panicky. I wish you peace, strength, and the best of luck, but I am wondering: Do you know that your son doesn't meltdown when your nanny changes him b/c the nanny says he doesn't, or have you actually seen his nanny change him? I definitely urge you to ask the other parents who share this nanny if any of their children have showed behavior like this. Good luck! :-) Anonymous
Distraction, distraction. Try handing him a funny toy, his toothbrush to start brushing, sing a song, make it a game, use a puppet, if you aren't against television allow him to watch one song of a sing-a-long video until you get the deed done. been there
We hung a mobile over the changing table. I blow on it to set it in motion. I also have a stash of musical toys...anything to distract him. It helps reduce the meltdowns. When my son starts melting down, I have the urge to change him faster, but actually slowing down seems to help more. But as you know, they're going to breach containment sometime, and usually that's with mom. I don't know why. Don't take it personally. Mom of otherwise happy 8 mo. old
Hi. I keep a ''goody'' bag on the changing table of various items for my 16-month old while I change her. These are things that she may not normally get to play with, and they seem to keep her preoccupied. I also get her involved in singing songs that require her to use her hands. I hardly ever have to fight her, but when I don't do something to keep her hands and mind occupied, she is a squirmer. Good luck! Karen
You may have already tried this routine, but when my 13-month old son began the full-body flipping and occasional screaming tantrums associated with the diaper change, we tried a few things; the ones that seem to work best with him are ''the special item'', which currently for him are Teletubby stickers that he plays with and then we stick to the wall next to where his head is, and also the slow countdown to a tummy tickle, which, if he's just in the get-away mode, as opposed to the tantrum mode, really keeps his attention while he anticipates. Of course, it takes longer to change him. We change his clothes on the run now, because it's just easier than getting him to lie down again. anonymous
My 15 month old daughter was also a nightmare to change. She would also scream and writhe around and it got to the point where *I* was crying. Two things have really helped. The first is that I sing a regular rotation of songs (The Farmer in the Dell, I've Been Working on the Railroad etc) and I make it really dramatic (lots of eye contact, and dragging out the ending, goofy facial expressions). I should add that I am a horrible singer. It actually captivates her attention and I get an ego boost because someone *wants* to hear me sing. This, by itself, suddenly made most changes fun for us. The other thing I do is to ''invite'' her to get a diaper change. I ask if she'd like a change, pause and go to the changing table and pat it. She wont actually come over to the changing table, but she knows what's going on and I think that helps her to feel more comfy. I hope it helps! Molly
My 17-month old son also started to meld down during diaper changes, mostly for me and my husband, but occassionally for our babysitte, too. . I have heard from other parents that this is common at this age. I try to look at it as one of his ways of asserting his own will, and wanting to have more control over his own body. He's not ready for potty training, but maybe this desire is one of the first indications that it really is coming soon. I see it as a good thing in his development, even if it makes for more difficult changing sessions.

Here are some of the things I have found that help: if it's just a wet diaper, we try to do a stand-up diaper in which I change him while he's standing up, or a ''bottoms up,'' during which I change him on the floor while his pants are pulled down, but not off. During these, I try to make a game of it while helps by kicking his legs up for bottoms up. if it's a poopy diaper, I still need him to lie down on the changing table, but I give him a toy or a book, or if he tries to grab himself, I give him a diaper wipe so he can ''help'' with clean up. Actually, this is an attempt to keep his fingers clean, but it seems to help. As for changing into jammies, sometimes we wait awhile, and give him time to run around in just his diaper. Then we put on his jammies during book time.

I guess the thing I've found is that if I consider it to be a struggle, then it is a struggle. If I look at it as a new part of a development stage and try to find ways to work with him, my son cooperates much more readily. I hope this helps. Carolyn


I could relate so well to your diapering/changing dilemma that I had to reply. I want to tell you that you are not alone! I don't use a nanny, but my 18 month-old son is often 'nicer' with others. My lil' guy starting becoming squirmy, difficult when he started crawling -- before that he was calm on the changing table. We even have video of me chasing a bare-bottomed baby with a diaper! He wants to do everything himself and doesn't want to be manipulated. I try to talk him through all steps, but sometimes (especially at night) he is impossible. He doesn't yet communicate a preference, so involving him in the choice of pajamas, etc. doesn't work (this is the advice in all the books - red shirt or blue?) You are doing a great thing by taking a deep breath and trying to relax when your babe is being so infuriating. This is one thing that really makes me mad, and it can create a feedback loop with the baby. I, too, calm down with breathing and remind myself that I haven't done anything wrong to create this situation - it is just pre-communication energetic toddler-dom. That said, what can we do?

You will probably get suggestions to change him earlier - before he is overly-tired - but I know that is not always possible. It sounds like you do need to vary the bedtime routine somehow though. If he resists going to bed, changing his clothes could cue this reaction. I try to put my guy into pajamas soon after dinner. I may still need to change his diaper before 'night-night' but not the whole deal. Maybe you could change his diaper and then incorporate reading and putting on jammies somewhere else.

I have gotten better at changing my son while he stands and does other things. I make games out of the process too(1-2-3 swing him onto onto the bed, 1-2-3 off with the pants,etc.) Since I deal with this during the day also, I find it easier to not use snappy shirts or overalls on some days, so I can easily check if he needs a change - he gets pretty mad if I try to change him and it isn't required. (Like just putting on jammies maybe?) Sometimes I also try to sing a song that gets his attention - like Itsy-Bitsy-Spider - so that we make eye contact. Then I segue into the changing routine singing 'now I'll take your pants off' etc.

I always hate the advice that says wait it out --they'll grow out of it-- but sometimes it's true. For us, it has gotten a bit easier in the past couple of months, so I'm hoping it will get even better as he gets more language. He tries to put on his socks while I'm doing his diaper, etc. I try to involve him more and more are he helps a bit even while fighting and trying to get away (he seems to be unable to ignore a sleeve at his hand and has to put his arm through it).

Hang in there. I'll be watching with you for other suggestions. -sharon


I hope that some of the advice you have received has been helpful but it all seemed to be about distracting your child while changing him and I wanted to offer an alternative. I have had success engaging my child in the activity and asking for help. I know this may sound crazy at first but a few minutes before I want to change my daughter I tell her very very specifically but simply that I need to change her and I am going to pick her up and put her on her changing table. Then I talk her through everything I am doing asking for her help. Sometimes I ask her to hold a lotion bottle or wipey box so that she is part of the process. I ask her to help by planting her feet and lifting her bottom, etc. The idea is that you treat your child with as much respect and understanding as you would if you were changing an adult who cannot do this himself. With an adult, you would not grab them and start taking their clothes off without some explanation, and children respond to the same kind of respect for their bodies. Children want to have some control over what goes on and anything we can do to allow them a little helps resolve conflicts. Like I said, this may seem really radical but it works for me and it has worked for friends of mine too. So use it if the distraction method doesn't work. And Good Luck. patricia
Just a thought - you might NOT want to distract your baby from the process of changing the diaper but choose to involve him/her more in the process. I find that talking about what is going on ''we are going to change your diaper, will you push your bottom up (answer, no then O.K. I am going to push your bottom up over the diaper), Do you want to hold the clean diaper while I wipe off your bottom? I am going to velcro the diaper together now....'' Even if a baby does not know every word you are saying, using words to explain what you are doing shows respect for the child. this takes a while but in the long run takes less time than a struggle. I really notice a huge difference when I talk to my baby and involve her in what is happening as much as possible. Magda Gerber and the RIE method talk a lot about these kind of interactions with babies - I can give you names of books if you are interested, email me. Cheatham
Home   |   Post a Message  |   Subscribe  |   Help   |   Search  |   Contact Us    

this page was last updated: Oct 19, 2010


The opinions and statements expressed on this website are those of parents who subscribe to the Berkeley Parents Network.
Please see Disclaimer & Usage for information about using content on this website.    Copyright © 1996-2014 Berkeley Parents Network