Nappy changing hacks for awesome parents

Alex O'Donoghue

Written by Alex O'Donoghue

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Small children have a signature move: never standing still! Which makes changing nappies a challenge that even superhumans find a challenge. powers breeze through. And what works well one day might vanish overnight as your child moves into a new developmental stage.

The good news? Your child expressing non-compliance means he or she is practicing individuation by rebelling against you. Frustrating, but necessary, so try not to take a repeated NO personally! And with children going through an average of 4500 nappies between birth and potty-training, parents usually learn through trial and error.

Here are a few ideas to try out.

1. Make it  a child positive experience 

  • Nappy changing is often easier when children associate it with  a countdown, a song or one special toy which they can hold only during nappy change.

  • Enthuse about the fun activities your child is going to do after nappy change is over. This also helps prepare for the transition onto another activity, which could be play, snack or nap time.

  • You might like to surprise your child with a favourite new book at nappy change time, one which you keep aside for this time.

2. Distract

  • Make your child laugh or surprised through simple tricks. Putting a sticker on their hand (or on your forehead!) can work really well. Make a fool of yourself! Children love laughing and being amused.

  • Capture a baby's attention with something really fascinating. It's handy to remember that in the first year of life, babies don’t recognise their own reflection. Putting a little mirror next to the changing mat can be mesmerising. If that fails, start off nappy time by show your child an image of their face in a handheld mirror.

3. Communicate positively

  • This is a regular opportunity to have face-to-face time with your child and model positive messaging to them about their bodies. Children are like magnets and mirror the emotions of their parents. No matter how you feel about nappy changing, show your child you don't find it disgusting or tiresome.

  • Stay present and connect, using the time to chat, sing, kiss and cuddle. Affirm your child's bodily functions and point out their wonderful toes, tummies and other limbs.

  • Ease your children into nappy changing by helping them put a nappy on their favourite toy. And then make sure to affirm the toy, or get your little one to give the toy praise. Invite your child to take his or her turn and bring their ('nappied') toy with.

4. Minimise interruption

  • From your child's perspective, interrupting them during play is exactly that - an interruption. Change nappies while your child is standing up if they're just wet. It's harder than lying down, but if you practice, you get good at it.

  • If you minimise the times that you ask your child to lie down, he or she is more likely to cooperate when absolutely necessary for messy changes. And for other children, the reverse is true - so see what works and stick to it. Your child is unique!

  • Another idea is to only change nappies standing up in the bathroom, and discard the contents of it in the toilet, helping your child to flush. This can help to make the toilet interesting and help the child to connect what goes into a nappy with another part of growing up. Or, pick a toy your child likes and put it on the couch or chair to balance against while they stand.

  • If you can, use a portable changing pad and change while a child is playing, so there's less interruption. Try to be efficient but don't rush through it in the hope they won't notice - simply let your child know what you're doing.

5. Location, location, location

  • Children often get caught up in a familiar pattern of behaviour which they start to associate with the same environments. If they suddenly detest being changed in their bedroom, try the bathroom. Some behaviors become associated with specific places and routines, so don't feel you necessarily have to stick to routine as the way to solve tantrums.

  • If your child loathes having their nappy changed, make it a swift event and speak in a soothing voice, but don't try to fix their feelings or tell them what they are feeling isn't true. Empathetic communication helps ward off full-blown tantrums.

  • Even if your child is not as clean as you would like, progress over perfection is better for both of your stress levels. Consult other parents for tips or simply to share where you are stuck.

If you’re still struggling to get your child to cooperate, keep going! The trick is to keep trying until you’ve found something that works for both of you.

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