Inside: Your baby suddenly hates diaper changes and seems determined to make you hate them, too? We’ve got you covered! One (or more) of these nine practical tips will save the day and finally make diaper changes tame again – promise.
Diaper changes. Not the best part of this whole parenting gig, am I right? I much prefer the baby snuggles, but diaper changes sure beats middle of the night feedings, so we live with it.
But still, it’s much easier to change a diaper when baby is happy and compliant. You seriously didn’t know how good you had it, until…
All of a sudden, your formerly sweet baby is a rolling, kicking, screaming hot mess wild cat of a creature you don’t even recognize – during every.damn.diaper.change (7 times a day, seven days a week). And it’s driving you CRAZY.
You can probably keep your cool when it’s just a wet diaper. After all, you just whip that diaper off and like a ninja, you get that diaper in place. Under 10 seconds flat.
It’s almost a fun challenge. Almost.
What’s not so fun? Wrestling your baby while trying to change a poopy diaper and keep that sh*t from going EVERYWHERE. And you shouldn’t resent such an adorable helpless little creature, but right now, in this moment, you do. You really, really do.
Because it’s on the changing table, the carpets, their clothes, your clothes. It’s absolutely disgusting.
And after you finally get the job done, you seriously debate whether or not to clean the poop clothes or just throw those things away (I’ve done both, my friend – there’s no shame in tossing them).
Just yesterday, your darling little angel baby just laid there, content to let you take care of business and get them into a fresh, clean diaper. Where’s the gratitude?!
So what changed? And how the heck do you deal with it when your baby suddenly hates diaper changes?
First let’s quickly tackle the possible why’s of it all, and then we’ll get straight to the solutions from actual parents who’ve been through this and come out the other side.
Why Does My Baby Fight Diaper Changes All of a Sudden?
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When your baby goes from cherub to wild cat diaper change fighter overnight, there’s usually a reason. Here are two possible reasons your baby suddenly hates diaper changes.
Your baby recently had a diaper rash, and therefore, previously painful diaper changes. He now fights diaper changes because he associates diaper changes with pain.
If your baby recently had an intense bout of diaper rash, where getting his diaper changed was legitimately painful, he naturally started to associate diaper changes with pain.
This is a completely understandable problem.
He needs to relearn that getting your changed is a good thing, not a painful thing.
Give this one time and lots of grace, and use some of the solutions below to get you both through it.
Side Note: An additional rare, but possible reason for your baby to suddenly hate diaper changes is a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI).
Observe your baby closely after diaper changes and watch for crying while peeing (UTI’s can hurt A LOT, especially during urination), which can confirm your suspicions. Call your pediatrician immediately if you suspect a UTI.
See more signs of a UTI in babies HERE.
Your baby is moving on to a new developmental stage when he has better things to do than getting a diaper changed.
This is a far more common reason for your baby to all of a sudden fight diaper changes (which you, of course, interpret as hating them).
When your baby is just born, and in those first few months, she has nothing better to do than feel every single brand new sensation. That includes feeling and differentiating between a dry and a wet bottom.
As your baby grows and starts to move, however, she has better things to do. She wants to roll over, explore her baby toys, and look at all.the.things.
This usually happens right around 5, 6, or 7 months of age.
Plus, diapers are often a little too good at their jobs. They whisk moisture away from that bottom, and baby stops feeling wet all too soon.
If they don’t feel wet, they likely aren’t going to see getting their diaper changed as a priority. Figuring out what that new and shiny object across the room is much more important, and he does NOT like mom or dad stopping his quest for answers.
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9 Things You Can Try When Your Baby Suddenly Hates Diaper Changes (to make diaper changes easier)
So yes, there are possible explanations. But what can you actually DO to stop the diaper changing madness?
I polled several mom bloggers who are in the trenches to give you actual solutions to this problem. Things that WORK, not just in the theoretical.
Here we go!
1. Dedicate 1-2 toys just for diaper changes.
Tabea from My Mommy Heart found that making one or two toys only available during diaper changes worked like a charm.
“What I found worked well for him was having one or two dedicated small toys by the changing station or in the diaper bag. I would only let him have it and play with it whilst I was changing his diaper.
That way it stayed a “special” toy and he was very interested in playing with it in the moments of changing him.
Naturally, it distracted him and gave him something to be occupied with. That helped a lot!”
2. Stop using a diaper changing table, and change diapers on the spot, instead.
This was touched on by almost every contributor, and it’s what I found to be most effective for my own babies who suddenly hated diaper changes.
I abandon the diaper changing table after about one month. I make a diaper-changing caddy instead, which includes a changing pad for messy diaper changes, wipes, diapers and diaper rash cream, and keep it wherever we spend the most time.
For us, that was often the living room.
When you change your baby on the spot, you disrupt play much less and get your baby back to whatever she was doing sooner.
Bonus Tip: Talk your baby through diaper changes. “I’m going to lay you down to change your diaper. Now, I’m going to take your diaper off and clean your bottom. Next…” Especially for younger babies, your voice can keep them engaged, plus, you give them awareness of the process, from start to finish.
3. Hand your baby novel, everyday items during diaper changes to keep them occupied.
Pranali from Empirical Mama suggests using anything novel – not just toys – to keep your baby distracted during diaper changes.
“Keeping them engaged is the only way to get them to cooperate while diaper change.
I used to give my baby something new in his hands like wipes, a clean diaper, keys or anything safe that is within reach while changing his diaper.
It worked really well for us!”
4. Speed up diaper changes with this diaper-changing technique.
Don from The Money Saving Daddy suggested a diaper-changing technique I’ve been using for years, but is likely not common knowledge to everyone, especially new parents.
“If your baby doesn’t want to have their diaper changed, there’s no sense in fighting that battle. Instead, you should do the change in a way that leads to fewer struggles.
There’s no need to take the diaper off completely in one fell swoop, potentially leading to a bigger fight to get the new diaper in place.
Instead, try this: first, put a clean diaper under the soiled one and use a diaper wipe to clean off the dirty part. Then, remove take off the soiled diaper, leaving the clean diaper in place.
This will cut down on the number of times you have to touch your baby, and it should make the whole process easier on both of you. The faster you change the diaper, the shorter the fight.”
5. Switch to pull-ups for a short time.
Pull-ups are expensive, I know. But as all parents know who have tried to change the poopy diaper of a kicking, thrashing baby, sometimes you’ve gotta do what you gotta do.
Monica from Conquering Motherhood wholeheartedly recommends pull-ups as a short-term, sanity-saving method.
“When they start hating diaper changes, buy pull-ups as these are much quicker to put on than standard diapers.
They will get you through the fighting diaper changing stage!”
6. Use Baby Einstein’s Musical Fish Tank as a distraction (yes, this specific toy).
Skye from Skye Ashley Blog swears by this one particular toy to keep her baby entertained throughout the entire diaper change.
“I’ve had great success with using the Baby Einstein musical fish tank for diaper changes with my boys.
My youngest is 10 months and we can still use it to keep his attention for a few diaper changes daily!”
Purchase the Baby Einstein musical fish tank HERE.
7. Change a stuffed animal’s diaper when you change your baby’s diaper.
Cristina from What Does Mamma Say kept her baby calm by putting a diaper on a favorite stuffed animal and changing them simultaneously (but read on, there’s more!).
“My son went went through this type of phase when he was about 15 months old. Changing his diaper felt like taking part in a wrestling championship. So, I tried several tricks to avoid diaper changing fight as much as possible.
One of our most effective tricks was having a big teddy bear with a diaper on, who coincidentally needed diaper changing at the same time as my son. This often amused him, and it helped things go smoothly.
He also liked to help me change the teddy bear first, which mean that it gave me control over something.”
8. Change diapers standing up, instead.
Obviously this approach is highly dependent on the age of your baby, but often hating/fighting diaper changes starts once your baby is on the move, whether walking or crawling.
Once your baby can walk or stand, laying your baby down is just one more step that can be easily eliminated in most diaper changing scenarios.
So Jenni from Cruise Mummy decided to skip the entire laying down process and go straight to standing up, with an ingenious idea for how to manage changing poopy diapers the same way as well.
“If your baby or toddler refuses to lie down to have their diaper changed, sometimes the easiest option is to do it standing up. However, this gives you the problem of the onesie dangling down into the poopy diaper.
A solution that I didn’t think of until I had my second child is to fasten the poppers (buttons) over the baby’s shoulder. This keeps the onesie out of the way so that you can change the diaper with the baby in a standing position much more easily.
This is also handy when there are no baby changing facilities because your child can stand on the floor of the bathroom without touching anything unsanitary.”
Speaking of bathrooms, moving diaper changes to the bathroom if you have a big enough bathroom to do so can also help to gently introduce your baby to potty training.
9. Hang a bouncy toy above the diaper changing table for the ultimate diaper changing distraction.
Rachel at Kinder Sensation chose to use a unique toy in a unique location to make diaper changes more enjoyable for her baby.
“When the baby is not able to stand yet – we have a bouncy toy (in our case a rat with a dress – unusual, I know) hung from the ceiling above the diaper changing mat.
Every time I lie my son there, I grab the toy and bring it down to him, he will hold it for as long as he wants, to tease himself and then let go, to see how it bounces about crazily by his own doing.
This is repeated until the diaper changing is done.”
Your Baby Fighting Diaper Changes Is a Stage: It Will Be Over Before You Know It
I know it doesn’t feel like it. Every new “phase” feels like it will never end.
In some cases, it takes a lot longer to end than others (like my daughter not sleeping through the night until age 7 – horrifying).
But most of these phases pass much quicker than you think.
One minute you’re asking your friends for all their best tips – or scouring the internet for those tips – and before you even get a chance to try them out, it’s over.
Hang in there! Your baby will stop hating diaper changes eventually.
…or you’ll potty train. Whichever comes first, right?
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Have you survived your baby suddenly fighting diaper changes? Share your best tips in the comments!
June could talk to you all day about homeschooling, parenting, and minimalism. When she’s not homeschooling, decluttering, or blogging, she loves to enjoy perfect silence while sipping a hot cup of coffee and thinking uninterrupted thoughts—which, of course, with five kids ten and under doesn’t happen very often.