Diaper Changing Battles: Reasons Why Your Baby Hates Them and How to End the Battles
Published November 7, 2017
Does your baby scream and wail every time you change her diaper? Do you dread having to change your baby in public because she’ll cry hysterically?
Crying can be a signal that your baby has a wet or poopy diaper, but you’re probably wondering why your baby is crying while you’re changing her and how can you put an end to these diaper changing battles.
In this post, we will discuss the various reasons why your baby may cry during a diaper change and ways to help keep her happy while you’re changing her.
Reasons Why Your Baby May Hate Diaper Changes
If your baby is fussy during diaper changes, know that you are not alone mama. Almost all babies go through stages of hating diaper changes, and there could be a number of reasons why your baby is getting so distraught.
- Cold: A lot of babies, especially newborns, just hate the coldness that comes with diaper changes.
- Hungry: If you’re changing before feedings, your baby may be too hungry to wait to be fed. Try changing after feedings instead.
- Don’t know what’s going on: A lot of newborns simply hate diaper changes because they don’t know what’s going on. Overtime, trust will build up, and they will become familiar with the diaper changing routine.
- Wants to be in charge of body and time: As your baby gets older, she will want to be more in charge of her body and her time. She won’t want to be swept away while she’s in the midst of play.
- Prevents newfound skills: When you have to lay your baby on her back for a diaper change, it prevents her from exploring and using her newfound skills (rolling, sitting up, crawling, etc.), and she won’t like feeling like she’s restricted.
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Could There Be a Medical Concern?
If your baby is in full blown tears during diaper changes (or anytime she is laid on her back) there may be a few medical issues to contemplate and rule out with your doctor:
- Acid Reflux: If your baby spits up, vomits, and cries a lot during or after feedings, she could have acid reflux or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). If you are changing your baby after feedings, the contents of the stomach may be washing back up into your baby’s esophagus, causing discomfort (source).
- Spina bifida: Spina bifida is a congenital disability, where your baby’s backbone doesn’t develop normally, which can lead to spine and nerve damage. This will cause major discomfort anytime baby is placed on her back. Spina bifida is normally diagnosed at the time of birth, or even before birth, but if your doctor thinks your older baby may be suffering from a form of spina bifida, he/she may order an MRI or CT scan for diagnostics (source).
If you think your baby might have a medical issue that is causing her to be extremely fussy during diaper changes, then trust your mom instinct and schedule an appointment with your baby’s doctor.
How to End the Diaper Changing Battles
Diaper changes can sure be challenging when your baby despises them. But diaper changes don’t need to bring anxiety for you and your baby. Here are nine ways to avoid the fighting and forcing and help make diaper changes fun again:
- Give forewarning: Wouldn’t you hate if someone just swooped you up and started doing stuff to you? Avoid a power struggle and create trust by always telling your baby what you are going to do before you start doing anything at all.
- Use distraction: Keep some small, fun objects near the changing supplies and only allow baby to play with them during diaper changes. Reserving them for diaper changes will help keep their novelty. You could also just hand your baby a diaper, the remote, your hairbrush, or the diaper cream to hold on to.
- Slow down and connect: Take a deep breath and take your time. If you rush, your baby will feed off your anxiety, and it won’t be any fun for her (or you). Use this one-on-one time to reconnect and bond with your baby.
- Get silly: Get your baby laughing by tickling her, making funny faces, or blowing on her belly.
- Sing a song: Save a few of your baby’s favorite songs for changing times. This will get her distracted, smiling, and possibly even looking forward to diaper changes.
- Keep baby warm: Change your baby in the warmest area of the house or swaddle her upper body. You could also blow warm air onto your baby’s chest while you’re changing her or invest in a wipe warmer.
- Narrate your actions: In a calm voice, tell your baby exactly what you’re doing as you do it. Be sure to make plenty of eye contact as well. This will set a positive tone and will teach her that she is respected.
- Create a view: Create a lovely, sensory-filled space to change those diapers. Put the changing table by a window, hang a mobile over the changing pad, or even paint a mural on a nearby wall.
- Change baby standing up: If your baby just has a wet diaper, try changing her standing up.
Remember that no one approach will always work, so be open to trying different things (source).
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It’s completely normal for babies to go through phases of hating diaper changes, and there could be some reasons why she gets so distraught during them. Your baby could be cold, hungry, or even just upset because she can’t explore and practice her newfound skills of sitting up or crawling.
But diaper changes don’t have to be stressful during these times. End the changing battles by creating distractions, getting silly, narrating your actions, and taking the time to connect with your baby. No one approach will always work, so be sure to try different things to keep your baby happy.
Did your baby go through phases of despising diaper changes? Share with us in the comments how you kept your baby happy and be sure to share this post with of your new mama friends that are knee deep in dirty diapers.