Parenting

A Suggested Strategy for Diaper Changing Drama

on the mat, pre-avoidance era

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Those were the halcyon days:  I would say to Little Man, “Time for a new diaper!”  and he would gleefully run to the diaper changing pad in his room, sit down on it, and I would shower him with praise.

“You’re making Mommy so happy!  Thank you!  What a big helper!  Yay!”

I didn’t tell any of my friends that my child was doing such a thing.  Really, how many 18-month-olds would behave so angelically?  Surely it must be a testament to my superior parenting techniques.  Of course, there was that niggling voice in the back of my mind reminding me that, with toddlers, all things do eventually pass, even the good phases.  I ignored that voice and basked in my parenting success.

Well, we have arrived at the next phase.  This phase could be called “Run away saying ‘no” and giggling maniacally whenever Mommy or Tatty suggest the idea of changing a diaper, and squirm and scream with vigor when actually corralled into changing.”  It is not a fun phase.  It is especially not fun since I am nine months pregnant and my mobility and energy are greatly diminished.

I’ve had the thought that perhaps Little Man is going through this phase now in order to heighten my appreciation of changing a little baby’s diaper, which is going to be done with great frequency in the near future.  Little Baby isn’t going to perform gymnastics in order to escape the torture of a clean tushy.  Little Baby will just lay there, perhaps crying, but it will be a pale struggle compared to Little Man’s herculean efforts to avoid a clean diaper.

After putting up with a really unpleasant diaper changing routine for about two weeks, I came to realize a few things:

1) It’s not just because he has a diaper rash that Little Man is protesting so fiercely

2) I’m really dreading changing that diaper

3) I need a new strategy

That diaper rash

Poor Little Man was getting some brutal diaper rash as a side-effect of teething (or so we think).  It didn’t seem to matter how quickly I changed his diaper, or whether I was putting disposables or cloth on his tushy.  We always use non-fragranced wipes, and our diaper spray (for the cloth wipes) is comprised of  gentle, natural ingredients.  I would slather on diaper rash cream (also natural), which seemed to provide temporary relief, but the rash always came back.

So, when the violent protesting began, I assumed it was because of the rashy discomfort Little Man was feeling.  As with all Little Man’s stages, it took a couple of weeks to discern whether or not we’ve actually entered a new stage, and it was only after the squirming and screaming continued well after the rash was gone that it began to dawn on me that the days of running blissfully to the diaper pad were indeed over.  I must have spent at least a week in denial.

Dread, dread, dread

Once the denial phase passed, I moved into frustration.  It was frustrating that he would run the other way whenever I mentioned the “d” word.  It was frustrating that he would kick me in the ribs when I picked him up to carry him to the changing area.  It was frustrating that I had such little success with fun faces or sounds as tools for distraction.  It was frustrating to have to hold his thrashing legs with one hand while attempting to wipe his tush with the other.  You get the idea.

Many, many challenging days passed before I realized that I was dreading changing Little Man’s diaper.  I would catch of whiff of that tell-tale smell and my heart would sink.  To compound matters, he seemed to be needing a new diaper back-to-back-to-back, and the onslaught of changing drama was wearing me out.

Even when my husband was around to help, it didn’t do much good.  Hub is a fantastic distractor; he can come up with tricks that I would never think of, but lately Little Man has even rejected those efforts.  We have lately just been holding him down while he cries and yells and squirms and wriggles.  Amusingly, or irritatingly, as soon as we finish, Little Man will bounce up and say in his little voice, “done!  yay!” as if the traumatic changing event hadn’t just occurred.

Good ol’ bribery

So I came to the conclusion that I need a new strategy.  All of my old tricks are ineffective, and I do not enjoy wrestling with Little Man or making him cry every single time he needs a new diaper.  He’s not ready for toilet training, and I’m due in less than two weeks, so this is anyways not the time to start a project that large.  Predictably, I am resorting to bribery.

This morning, when I removed Little Man from his crib, I let him play for a bit before I broached the topic of diaper change.  When I did, I offered him a special treat:  he could play with the diaper spray bottle.  He loves taking the cap on and off (and lest you think I’m being irresponsible, the ingredients of this home-made spray are water, olive oil, his baby body wash and tea tree oil), and he was thrilled.  Diaper change success!  He actually laid on the mat and happily occupied himself with the cap while I changed him!  What a relief!

Less than an hour later, I smelled it.  Round number two.  I tried the diaper spray bottle again, but that was already old hat.  So I brought out the big guns:  cheese puffs.  The Gerber Graduates snacks that he loves and I am less than thrilled about (I can’t believe that they actually have any nutritional value, but they sure are good for bribery).  Diaper change success again!

I have no idea what I’m going to do for dirty diaper number three (and four, and five), but I’m hoping that I will be able to find something enticing for Little Man.

Any suggestions or stories of successful tactics would be greatly appreciated!

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11 thoughts on “A Suggested Strategy for Diaper Changing Drama

  1. I feel your pain. My twins are 3 and a half years old, STILL not ready for potty training (their special needs are too severe at this point so our goal is age 4)…… and Chananiah got past that stage a while ago, Baruch HaShem, but Reena is smack dab in the middle of it. If you hate having an 18 month old scream and kick you and roll over and bite you while you’re changing him, try it with a 3 year old– oh my goodness. My saving grace is that I’m not pregnant (and won’t be for YEARS at this point— I’m far too overwhelmed with these 2— :)

    Shanah tovah!

  2. Rivki, this is in the distant past for me but I do remember one amazing thing that occurred to me was that my kids understood every word I said long before they were truly verbal. So I started explaining, in plain English, what would happen to my son’s bottom parts if we left that stuff in there, that he’d end up with an owie. They’re so much smarter than I realized! It seems weird to reason with such a young child but why not try? :) Good luck!

    1. I have to agree with Linda on this. I’ve always talked to my kids. Like ‘talked’, not baby talked. Subject matter is of course, always G rated but they get it. You feel silly doing it at first, but once you get past it, it’s actually rather liberating. With regards to ‘Little Man’, you have to keep in mind one of the sole things that kids, especially toddlers, is to push boundaries. Their not trying to make you made (most of the time) they’re just being little scientists. Let go of the dread and let him know who’s in charge. You’ll both be fine.

      1. Thanks for the encouragement! I’m also a fan of actually talking to kids (how else are they supposed to learn to communicate? Don’t get me started on Elmo and Cookie Monster’s grammar!). I like thinking of LM as a little scientist. What a great description!

    1. Hi Hannah! Thanks for the encouragement! Snacks/bottle seem to be working well for me for now (also it’s a bonus b/c Little Man doesn’t eat so much). It’s funny, though, because he’s conflicted between wanting the snack and not wanting the diaper change! Gmar chasima tovah!

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