Q&A: Any suggestions for handling a toddler who hates his diaper changed?
My toddler is driving me nuts with his refusal to let me change his diaper. He puts up a struggle almost every time. Do you have any suggestions?
Let me first assure you that you are not alone in facing the struggle of diapering a toddler! Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to help you and your son more peaceably get through this challenging but temporary phase of toddlerhood.
The first involves you realizing that it is quite common for 2-year-olds to resist just about everything, with no exceptions made for diaper-changing. I find it most helpful to first address your own expectations because the real problem, as you’ve put it, is the fact that your son’s resistance is driving you nuts. I am a big believer that by simply expecting your son to test your limits (not to mention your diaper-changing abilities) as a normal stage of his development, the task itself may become significantly less frustrating. In other words, don’t let the daily struggle catch you by surprise, and maintain your cool by recognizing that it simply is what it is.
That said, I would also suggest you try a couple of different strategies to tone down your son’s struggles:
- Just do it: Approach diaper changes very matter-of-factly. Two-year-olds can definitely sense whether their parents mean business or if their toddler antics are effectively pushing their parents’ buttons.
- Engage and distract: See if you can engage your son—either in a distracting conversation, song, or activity—to buy yourself a little extra time.
- Get the low-down: If you are still using a diaper changing table, consider changing your son on the floor, which may make him feel less like a baby and help make your efforts to keep a struggling toddler safe during diaper changes a bit easier.
- Be hands on: To minimize the amount of time it takes to complete the necessary task, be very sure to have everything you may need at hand.
- Take a stand: Try allowing your son to stand up during diaper changes. Some toddlers hate having to lay down, rather than the diaper change itself. They don’t resist nearly as much if they can stand up instead. Just be aware—this technique is easier and much more realistic for wet diapers than for poopy ones!
- Tempt with toilet training: Depending on your son’s interest and developmental level, consider whether he is ready, willing, and potentially able to tackle toilet training. It just may be that his dislike of diaper changes is enough to serve as a powerful motivator for ridding himself of diapers (and diaper changes) once and for all.