Family Tasks: Changing Diapers
Berkeley Parents Network >
Family Relations >
Family Tasks: Changing Diapers
my baby (girl) is due this fall and was wondering if it would be
inappropriate to have her older brother (he'll be 12 then) help
change her diaper?
does anyone have experience with this?
i was thinking it should be ok, as long as we make it seem
totally natural, but 12 is a weird age for kids so i'm unsure,
esp in regard to cleaning her down there?
thanks for your help,
If you have a 12-year-old who is willing to change a baby's
diaper, I say go for it. I have two teen sons who not only
refuse to change their baby brother's diaper, one of them will
not even touch his clean bottles when unloading the dishwasher.
Too gross for him. I think diaper changing is a useful skill
for a young teen to learn that will really come in handy later,
whether they will be a mom, or a dad, or even an aunt/uncle.
I'm still working on my teens ....
My husband was 11 when his little sister was born and he helped
his mother take care of her, including by changing diapers. I
think it is one of the things that has made him the good father
that he is. When our first child was born, he knew a lot more
about diapering and swaddling then I did! He and his sister
have always had a very close relationship -- he has always been
someone she could turn to who was an adult, but not a parent. I
don't think it was weird for him at all; actually my now 14 year-
old nephew also changed his baby sister when she was born and
his practical experience led to some good money-making
Since our daughter was born 3 months ago, my husband has changed
maybe 3 or 4 diapers. It's beginning to turn into the biggest source of
conflict between us. If I leave him alone with her and she cries, he doesn't
even bother to check her diaper. I can't seem to convince him that diaper
changes represent real quality time, and that he should learn how to get
comfortable with it now while it's still easy to do. The thought of spending
more than two years changing every single diaper myself depresses me.
Does anyone have any success stories with this situation?
i am appalled that your husband would refuse to change
diapers and completely understand that the prospect of
being the only parent changing diapers until potty training
is completed is depressing to you. I don't know about your
relationship to him, nor would I be justified in coming to
any conclusions on the nature of your marriage based on
this one piece of information I know. However, I will tell
you what part of my experience was just to offer you my
perspective and hope that this will help you think things
through and not depress you more.
I was married for almost two years to a man who didn't
change diapers when alone with our son, sometimes leaving
wet/soiled diapers on him for so long that the sheer weight
of them caused them to fall into a pant-leg. He also
didn't help around the house, and when I came home from
work and school, he criticized me for ''not standing still
for even a minute'' when I would come home and try to wade
through the mess. he told me I was a hypocrite for
complaining how tired I was because, as he pointed out, I
should relax instead of cleaning the house. But he didn't
help me out. I became more and more upset about these
circumstances. I felt, and still feel, that his behavior
was negligent--diaper rashes/wet, dirty diapers are very
uncomfortable for baby--and felt negligent and worried
leaving our son at home with him. My resentment
skyrocketed, and in the end i decided on a divorce, which
has benefited me greatly--some things are harder/more
expensive for me, such as having to hire someone to watch
the kids when I have to go somewhere. However, I no longer
have to feel upset every day, and that makes me a much
happier person. My ex husband spends time with the kids
and is still very bad about diaper changing, but at least
it's his house and car that are messy and not mine. We had
problems in our marriage that went way beyond these issues,
but it was the friction caused by these daily events to
make the marriage miserable for me.
I think that you might want to analyze why your husband
won't change diapers; you might want to suggest hiring a
sitter when he's with baby so diapers will get changed.
You might want to suggest going to a family therapist with
him to discuss the feelings involved in the situation and
take steps to improve communication, empathy, and the
mutual feelings of respect and support that are part of the
glue that hold a strong partnership together.
I feel for you and wish you the best of luck
We had/have a similar problem in our house. It turns out
that my husband has a serious fear of poop. (poopaphobia?
lol) I never realized it, but now it makes sense - he has
always clogged our toilets with gobs of toilet paper
because he has a fear of his own poop and needs a ton of tp
to feel fully clean. I don't know if this is the case with
your husband, but it is something to consider.
Finally, we discussed it and we agreed that he would sniff
for poop and I would change all poopy diapers. But, if the
diaper was pee-pee only - he would take care of it. I
don't love this arrangement, but it is far better than
changing all diapers myself, and it keeps my husband from
having panic attacks when he needs to change her. It is
still hard when I need to leave her with him for extended
periods of time, but my daughter is 18 mos now, so her
bowel movements are somewhat predictable.
You may think this sounds insane, but I once forced my
husband to change a poopy diaper and he started
hyperventilating and then washed his hands obsessively for
10 mins. He did it, but it was a terrible experience for
all of us. I much prefer our current arrangement, and he
is slowing overcoming his fear by at least staying with me
when I change her.
This one makes me furious! Alas, it's not terribly uncommon, and I
don't have a sure-fire solution.
I would remind your husband that this child is his responsibitily
too, and that goes for ALL aspects of caring - including hygeine.
For crying out loud, it's a bodily function, and sure, it's not the most
enjoyable aspect, but refusing to attend to a child's BASIC needs of
any kind can qualify as child abuse. What if you were physically
unable to do the job, heaven forbid? And there are plenty of
documented cases of ''handicapped'' adults who manage this task.
Get him the book ''Everybody Poops'', remind him of his own body,
and tell him to grow up and deal with it.
Rather than try to sell diaper changing to your husband
as ''quality time,'' acknowledge the fact that he hates it -
but it's got to be done and you don't want to do it every
single time either. (Better than talking about ''fair''
and ''unfair'' in my opinion -- fair/unfair discussions
usually go nowhere.) My husband is repulsed by poopy
diapers, while I simply find all diapers boring and (this
sounds like you) don't want that to be ''my'' job forever.
We've come to an understanding that I'll do the poopy
diapers and he'll do the pee diapers. As for fair and
unfair, when your baby gets older & is pooping only once a
day, you'll have the better end of the deal.
My husband could deal with wet diapers but not loaded
ones. We used to live a block from his mother and he had
been known to walk down and have her change the baby when
need arose. That was pretty bad but in the end things did
balance out. I did diapers; he did the shopping for
most of their clothes . I read aloud; he roughhoused. I
worried; he calmed me down. I did most of the cooking; he
dealt with all of the medical emergencies. Actually, the
thing he did that was most important when our children were
babies was giving them a shower every morning. I delivered
the baby to him in the shower and he would hold it in the
crook of his arm grasping the fat little leg firmly. He
soaped them all over with baby shampoo and then after they
were rinsed he'd hold them over his shoulder and let them
enjoy the hot water hitting their backs. When they were
done, I'd come in with a big towel and get the clean baby.
It was a great exchange: they bonded and I never had to
bath a baby.
If your baby is only a few months old, give the situation
time. It takes a while for families to develop and in the
end diapers are not very important.
What century is this? Dirty diapers are both parents'
responsibility. Put your foot down girlfriend! And yes,
significant bonding occurs during diaper changing.
I thought I'd add an idea to the discussion. If you and
your husband both don't like to change diapers, how about
This is a method that the authors of a book on infant potty
training (starting at 0-5 months!) claim was en
dorsed by Dr.
William Sears (attachment parenting guru):
I don't have any experience with this book, but I do have
experience with early-ish potty training. I started both my
daughters at 18mos. I think you miss a lot of resistance if
you start earlier. Now my second daughter is 2 and I
rarely have to change a poopy diaper. I put her on the
toilet several times a day and she usually poops one of
those times. She pees whenever I put her on. If she is
naked she will go all by herself. We still have a long way
to go until she is potty trained, but I find sticking her on
the potty much easier and more pleasant than changing
diapers; and because she uses the toilet often I think we
will avoid the aversion to it that comes from establishing a
long habit of going in the diaper.
You can condition even very young babies to go when you make
a certain sound and put a pot under them. Of course, this
means you have to put them on a potty or hold a pot under
their bottoms several times a day, which many people feel is
not worth the trouble. But if you really hate changing
diapers you could try it.
Of course, I think parents should share the unpleasant task
of diaper changing, but if you can't get your husband to
come around, perhaps it would help you to shorten the diaper
I guess I'll be the one dissenting voice on the diaper-
changing issue. Perhaps being married to a relatively
strong-willed person makes me aware of ways to
achieve happiness and harmony without trying to
change how others feel. I do think it's possible to be
happy with a partnership that doesn't follow the self-
help books' version of what's proper and fair.
The replies I read in the last Advice Line seemed (to
me) to respond to your question as if the diaper
problem were one in a string of inequities in your
marriage. When I read your post, I didn't draw that
conclusion. So if, as I assumed, this is one conflict in
an otherwise happy partnership, it seems to me that
there are solutions available, other than convincing
your husband that he's a bad husband and a bad father
because he doesn't want to do diapers. Maybe he can
take sole responsibility for the bath every evening, or
the laundry, or whatever. I'm mostly writing because I
think that parents can be great parents (and husbands
can be great husbands) even if they don't fit the
politically correct, diaper changing mold.
I have found it very helpful to use surgical gloves in
changing a poopy diaper. These can be purchased at Longs
or other large drug stores. Nnewborn poop does not smell
and the gloves allow me to keep my hands clean and not have
to touch the gross stuff. I would suggest you purchase
these gloves for your husband.
this page was last updated: Feb 6, 2005
BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are transitioning to a new website: BerkeleyParentsNetwork.org
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2015 Berkeley Parents Network