How To Change A Diaper On A Toddler

Getting your kid clean can be a real chore once they start objecting to diaper changes. Here, professionals and parents provide their most effective, time-tested advice.

When your adorable baby is a baby, changing his or her diaper might be a peaceful time for bonding (barring the occasional, er, misfire). However, as your infant develops into a curious, active toddler, telling them to suddenly remain still can be, to put it mildly, difficult. The struggle to change a toddler’s diaper may be one of the most epic—and occasionally hilarious—of the day as they wiggle, resist, scream, twist, and flee.

You’re not alone if your toddler despises having their diaper changed. Even while some battles aren’t worth fighting, you can’t just let your kid wear a filthy diaper all day. What then should a parent of an unruly child do?

You can’t just tell your child what to do at this age.

Strategy #1: Distraction

When it comes to finagling a successful toddler diaper change, one of the first things to try is getting your child to focus on something else. “Distract your toddler during the diaper change,” advises Reshmi Basu, MD, a pediatrician at CHOC Children’s pediatric healthcare network in California. “This could be with a favorite toy or book or by singing a song. You could have a special toy that they get only at diaper changes. A sibling can also help entertain them as a distraction.”

Karp agrees with this strategy. “You might use special dynamic or kinetic toys only used on the changing table—a slinky is a good one—or music or treats that your toddler can have when you lay them down. Sometimes even running a loud hair dryer can get them settled down for 30 seconds.”

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Parents who’ve put this strategy to the test vouch for it. David C. says, “For us, no toy was distracting enough, but a board book usually did the trick.” Emily P. relied on technology. “I know this is terrible, but we kept an old iPad next to the changing table and would show her (vaguely educational) videos during diaper changes.” If your toddler hates diaper changes, try livening things up with goofy antics. “Singing and really, really silly dancing” works for Hannah G.

Of course, nothing quite beats an older sibling when it comes to the power of distraction. “If they have an older sibling, let them play with your toddler while you change them,” Dawn A. recommends. “It keeps the older child (even if they aren’t that much older) occupied so they aren’t bothering you and also keeps your toddler busy. There’s no better ‘toy’ than a sibling.”

Kate W. relies on a similar tactic: “I call older siblings over and tell them to make faces to keep my kiddo entertained long enough to get the diaper at least part way on. He’s gonna tuck and roll, so I try to have one side done ant then kind of wrap the other one around him as he rolls. If I can get him flat once it’s on, I adjust the tabs to even things out.”

Strategy #2: Empowerment

Toddlers are all about doing things on their own as they become more autonomous. Instead of battling toddlers about changing their diapers, give them more control. “Involve your youngster in the diaper-changing procedure. They can hand you wipes or go retrieve the diaper for you, says Basu. “Tell your young child what you’re going to do. Discuss the procedure and assure everyone that it won’t take long. Let them know that they can go on a stroll or do X, Y, and Z as soon as their diaper is changed, depending on what they want to do.

The same approach was employed by Laura S. with her kid. “It occasionally worked if I gave her an option (which diaper she chose) or asked her for assistance.”

Strategy #3: Switching Location

If you’re struggling with diaper changes, it may be time to ditch the changing table. “Change your toddler’s position or location. Don’t use a changing table if they don’t like it,” Basu says. “Change them on the floor. That way if they were in the middle of playing, for example, you don’t have to get them to move far. You can even place one of your legs lightly over them to prevent them from rolling away.”

Many parents have found creative ways to position their bodies to hold down their wiggly toddlers—especially if poop is involved and you don’t want to risk them escaping mid-change. “I held down various squirmy limbs with my own (gently),” says Anne G. “A foot here, the inactive hand there, etc. I almost always changed my kid on a mat on the floor, not on a changing table. I imagine it’s much harder to hold down a squirmer otherwise.”

Clari G. would sit with her toddler on the floor between her legs so she could have a foot on each shoulder to hold him still, while Keren G. would lightly rest one of her legs on her child’s chest to keep them from flipping and rolling. “Both my kids were major squirmers,” she recalls.

Strategy #4: Vertical Diaper Changes

You may need to learn how to change a diaper while a child is standing if the conventional horizontal diaper changes are no longer effective, warns Karp. Remember that these creatures are constantly on the go and detest being forced to lie on their backs.

Marie H. discovered that standing up was the best position for changing her toddler’s diaper. “When my son was around 10 months old and capable of standing rather well, I would place him with his hands and feet on the glass and ledge. He would pass the time by gazing out the window and breaking glass. She says, “I did the change with one hand and held him firm with the other. There were many pre-fold cloth diapers used for all of this.

Strategy #5: Speeding Things Up

“Ultimately, you have to be fast!” Karp says, regardless of whichever technique you employ. Parent Megan M. agrees: “Do it quickly! You can always adjust the tabs once you slap it on.”

Of course, it all depends on your child, just how squirmy they are and what kinds of things hold their attention. Holly S. says, “I find the song ‘Lollipop’ by the Chordettes to be my most effective diaper changing song—don’t ask me why.” Meanwhile, David S. gave up on diaper changes entirely. “Honestly, it got so bad that I pushed for a much less gentle form of potty training at 2.5,” he says. “I figured if we were going to be fighting, it would at least be to get the kid on the potty. It worked and my back thanked me.”

In the end, like everything else in parenting, it all comes down to trial and error. Plus, as we parents know all too well, what works today won’t necessarily work tomorrow. As Laura S. points out, “There was never any one consistent way; I often had to try various tactics!” Hopefully this collection of tips is at least a good start.

What to do when your toddler won’t let you change their diaper?

So, take a look at these suggestions below, and hopefully you can find a few tips to try when your 2 year old fights diaper change:
Have everything ready to go. …
Make diaper changes fun. …
Pick a good time. …
Have a consistent routine. …
Offer the right “distractions” …
Praise your child’s cooperation. …
Try something different.

How to change a diaper on a toddler boy

To change your baby, follow the steps below:

  1. Lay your baby on his back. …
  2. Remove the soiled diaper. …
  3. Lift your baby up gently so you can scoot the diaper out from under his bottom.
  4. Use wipes to clean your baby’s diaper region. …
  5. If the area is red or inflamed, soothe it with diaper ointment.

How do you change a 2 year old’s diaper?

Published June 2019

Plus, more from The Bump:

13 Diaper Rash Creams That Work Wonders

Potty Training: How to Get Started and Make It Work

Best Developmental Toys for Babies and Toddlers

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