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5 Tips for a Calm Toddler Diaper Change

Toddler hates nappy changes

Has your toddler diaper change routine gone from being an easy 2-minute task to a messy tug of war?

We hear ya!

We've seen the memes.

toddler diaper changing tantrum

The struggle is real...

diaper changing wrestling match

You are not alone! 

toddler diaper change

We are here to make your life easier with five great tips to make your toddler nappy change easier and (hopefully!) calmer.

Diaper change tantrums are part of the package when it comes to the infamous terrible twos. 

Why is it that your toddler refuses nappy change time? 

Toddlers refuse diaper changes for a multitude of reasons. For some, it's a practical shift... Soon after our babies learn to roll and get super active, we realise that changing tables are no longer safe for our little ones.

Have you had the pleasure yet of catching your little ninja mid-roll off the changing table or couch while you reach for the wipes? Eh neither! 

Babies falling from furniture is the leading cause of hospitalisations for babies under one, so it's not surprising that paediatricians recommend changing babies on the floor once they can roll. But of course, with their newfound freedom, the battle really begins as it takes two hands to keep them still and you have none left to get the toddler diaper change done.

Safety is not the only reason for that your toddler hates diaper changes though. More often than not, he is simply discovering independence, is absorbed in whatever activity he's involved in, and don't see why he needs to be interrupted for something as disruptive as a nappy change. Toddlers enjoy exploring their newfound abilities such as rolling and jumping, so lying still every few hours for a diaper change may feel restrictive, boring, and uncomfortable.

If your 2-year-old refuses nappy change time, or kicks and screams and looks for every possible way to fight their nappy change, then these 5 tips will ensure a successful toddler diaper change and help you breathe a sigh of relief. Who knows... it may even help both you and your young one look forward to diaper changes. 

1. Provide a distraction - Favorite toy, play games, sing songs

toddler diaper change tip 1 novel toys

The best thing about toddlers is that they are single-minded and have the attention span of... well, a toddler. Introducing another activity means your toddler is less likely to fight the nappy change. From parent surveys to online discussions here are a few tried and tested distractions that just might work on your wriggly, fussy toddler.

  • Singing a song - Research shows that not only does singing to your child help with their brain development but also helps you connect more with your infant or toddler and improve your relationship with them. Singing during a diaper change has the added advantage of engaging your child and preventing kicking and screaming for a hassle-free experience.
  • Talking about a favorite topic - Most toddlers have a topic they are obsessed with. Whether it’s cartoons or songs from a particular YouTube channel (here’s to all parents listening to Cocomelon nursery rhymes all day every day), this is the perfect time to guide your child to think about something exciting.
  • Introduce a special toy to be used only during diaper changes - Physical distractions sometimes work better than singing or talking ever could. Set aside a toy that your toddler loves to use only at the changing mat. This trick helps your child look forward to nappy changing time as they get a few minutes to enjoy the toy.
  • Play a game. Whether you choose a made-up countdown game or a popular game such as peekaboo or patty cake, holding your child's attention will reduce diaper change tantrums. Get your child laughing by dancing around, making silly faces, tickling, and blowing raspberries.

2. Reward your child for co-operating

toddler diaper change reward

Positive reinforcement is one of the oldest tricks in the book when it comes to shaping your child’s behavior. Although bribing our little ones is a hotly contested parenting tip, most parents agree that rewards (which are different from bribes) encourage children to do what we’d like them to do. This means a range of things from simply praising your child to having actual rewards such as stickers, toys, and treats each time your toddler stays calm during the diaper change. Getting them used to the concept of 'when x then y' from an early age can help them figure out the advantages of getting on board pretty quickly.

It might also help to point out that the toddler can proceed to a fun activity or go back to enjoying playtime as soon as the diaper change is done. This gives your toddler something happy to look forward to and helps them focus less on the discomfort.

3. Invest in a Toddler Changing Mat

The Wriggler toddler changing mat  

Sometimes, all the singing and distractions in the world simply won't do it for a busy toddler and it's not surprising that up to 40% of parents experience stress, frustration and a feeling of burden at changing time. Trust us, it's not just you struggling with the diaper change tantrum!

If you want to make your nappy changes easier and less messy, consider investing in an anti-roll diaper toddler changing pad such as the Wriggler. This award-winning changing pad is a game-changer for parents on diaper duty as it is designed to keep the toddler safely in place while freeing up your hands for quick and easy changing. It also comes in a cute bear design with arms that extend down into kneepads to hold your little one in place while still making them feel safe and snug.

This amazing toddler changing pad is portable and folds easily which gives you wriggle free nappy changing anywhere. Considering that you have about 6500 diaper changes until potty training, getting th​e Wriggler anti-roll changing mat might be the best thing for you and your young one! Oh, and if you'd like to know how many diaper changes you have left with your little ones, there's a fun interactive calculator on their page too. 

4.     Stay Calm, slow down, and bond


Wriggly toddlers can certainly make diaper changes challenging and this is frustrating for the parent. It is important to remember that toddlers will feed off your emotions and if you seem hassled and frustrated, they are more likely to be fussy. So even when your toddler stretches your patience to the limit or throws a tantrum, take a deep breath and try to stay calm and cheery throughout the nappy change. For further tips on dealing with toddler tantrums check out our blog here. Another trick is to empathize with your toddler’s feelings about the parts of their diaper changed they hate most whether it’s because they are feeling cold, or simply hate the discomfort.

Diaper changes present the perfect time for bonding between the parent and the baby as it presents a few uninterrupted minutes of close contact. When it comes to toddlers, most parents want to get it over fast so they rush through it to give the child less of an opportunity to make a mess. We forget that toddlers also love attention and diaper changes present a perfect opportunity to connect with your child. Hold eye contact, play games, sing or simply talk to your child and diaper changes might go from being a struggle to little joyful moments you both look forward to.

5.    Help your toddler feel in-control

toddler diaper change give choices

Ari Brown, author of Toddler 411: Clear Answers and Smart Advice for Your Toddler explains that toddlers often want to be in charge of their world, so their refusal to do things is all about control. There are several ways to include your toddler in the process of changing diapers and to make them feel as if they are making some of the decisions.

  • Inform your child beforehand. Just to remind you again that children are single-minded and will therefore hate having their playtime interrupted. Helping your child transition from playtime by making a game out of it or simply pointing out that their diaper is wet instead of just scooping them up will help the toddler stay calm through the process.
  • Give them some choices. Do they want to change the diaper now or have a few more minutes of play? Do they want to do the diaper change standing or lying down? If you're giving the option of a standing diaper change, some parents like to try pull-ups instead of taped diapers for this. If you're considering pull-ups, check out our diapers vs pull-ups blog. It might also be a good idea to have multiple changing stations or a portable toddler changing pad so you can avoid interrupting playtime for too long.
  • Narrate your actions. Talk your child through each step of the diaper change and explain why it is important to clean with wipes or use diaper cream. Telling your toddler what you’re going to do just before you do it is also a great way to involve them in the nappy change and help them feel just a little more in control.
  • Ask for your child’s help - Children love learning new things and this might be a chance to help your toddler hate diaper changes just a little less. Whether it’s taking off the dirty diaper or handing you the wet wipes, find a small task to help your child feel useful. 

In conclusion...

A quick round-up of our 5 top tips for a successful toddler diaper change:

  1. Provide a distraction
  2. Reward your child for cooperation
  3. Invest in a toddler changing mat
  4. Stay calm, slow down and bond
  5. Help your toddler feel in control

As you try one or more of these hacks, it is important to remember that children are different so not all of these tips will work for you and your little one. If you keep trying, you might just find that one of the proven strategies discussed here is the game-changer you did not know you needed! Finally, remember to celebrate your child’s success every time you have a calm, cooperative diaper change.



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