How to change a wriggly baby's nappy
Updated: Oct 10, 2019
How do you change a nappy in a caring and respectful manner when the baby does not want their nappy changed?
If your baby has other ideas when you lay them on the nappy changer, it’s not your fault. It’s not their fault either - they’re not being deliberately mischievous or resistant.
There comes a point in an infant’s development when they’re ready to move: every impulse in their little body wants to roll, or crawl, or wriggle. And this is not always compatible with the kind of idyllic, peaceful nappy changing that I described in my last post How to change a nappy. But we can still respect the child’s needs and dignity in the way we change their nappy.
In my last post I talked a lot about taking your time. On one hand, wriggly changes can sometimes demand a bit of speed and by that I mean quick and deft - that baby is not waiting around for you! It takes a bit of practice, and you’ll find it a swift learning curve.
On the other hand, precisely because you might feel less in control of the process than changing your newborn, patience may be needed more, not less. Don’t mix up quick with rushed. If you’re finding a wriggly change tricky, try and respond with humour, gentleness and affection. It’s so easy to get irritated, impatient and rough, or to see it in terms of “winning” or “not letting them get away with it” but those are not helpful ways of framing the situation. We try to approach the child from a position of warmth, understanding and empathy, working with the child, not in opposition to them.
You might find it helps to be fun and playful (peekaboo), be imaginative (respond in the moment to your child and the situation, the room you’re in, the people who may be around), involve the child (give them a wipe for their face, or the nappy cream to hold) talk to them (about what you’re doing, what’s coming next) and don’t forget - here’s the Steiner influence again (or is it the Beatles?) - there’s nothing you can say that can’t be sung!
Those are a few practical suggestions, but I don’t propose any silver bullets. This is more about a way of thinking differently about nappy changing. It’s part of the dance of the early relationship to discover what works for you both.
Finally, even though the time, mess, wriggling and inconvenience can sometimes do your head in, it is a phase. Even when it feels like experience has taught you differently, continue to expect and ask for co-operation. Don’t foster the belief that nappy changing - or anything - is a battle to be lost or won. I was recently with an older mum, who has tons of experience with nappy changing, who was kindly offering to help me change my baby’s nappy, and the first thing she said - quite jovially - was: Right, I’ll pin him down and entertain the head end; you change the nappy. The norm for my child at that moment of his life happened to be that he liked having his nappy changed, and would lift up his bum for the new nappy! Let's not short-circuit this caring process with out own assumptions or even prior experiences.
Maybe your baby is already toddling, and never mind wriggling, has already run off across the room with a pooey bum! More about this next week...
Our baby group, Gentle Days, is all about the respectful care of infants from before pregnancy to toddling, and the shared nurturing of our children and ourselves. To find out more, take a look at our website, Facebook or Instagram pages.