Sometimes when infants start to roll over, diaper changes become . . . quicker. It can also be said that they become more challenging. When infants learn to roll over, and especially after they learn to crawl, they can be eager to do so every moment that they are able to. In my experience, many infants do not consider a diaper change a justifiable reason to lie still.
When Moon’s right foot starts to push against the floor and her pelvis starts to turn, followed by her twisting torso, I sometimes have the urge to grab her body and turn her back. Sometimes when she twists, I wish and may even plead, “Can we work together to get this diaper changed?” Sometimes, just sometimes, I get caught up in finishing my job of getting through her diaper change, to snap it on so that I can get back to what it was I was doing before. When I finish this kind of diaper change on my own, that’s how I feel – on my own.
When I treat a diaper change like a chore, it certainly feels like one. Crossing this task off my mental to-do list leaves me feeling disconnected from my daughter, who I treated as the recipient of a diaper change rather than a partner.
When I am able to be present and mindful, I respond to her differently. Sometimes, when my daughter twists and turns during her diaper change, I’ll just go ahead and stop. I look to see what she is interested in and why she is reaching. Sometimes as she turns to try and stand or sit, I honor her capabilities and change her diaper in the position she is most comfortable in rather than the one that is most convenient to me.
More times than I want to admit to, I have to repress an urge to turn her around – to keep her on her back just to snap a diaper that I can snap almost as easily as she sits or stands. Often, however, I will follow her lead. I set aside my agenda of changing a diaper for a moment to acknowledge her experience. By pausing to comment on Moon’s object of focus, I am trying to validate her interests, however fleeting, and thus ultimately prioritizing who my daughter is over the need to complete a task.
The following are the just a few of the steps detailed by Magda Gerber regarding respectful care that I try to keep in mind when changing my daughter’s diaper.
Ways To Partner Through Diaper Changes
Describe each thing you are going to do before doing it. For us, this begins when I tell my daughter that she needs a diaper change. She is becoming responsive and going to the diaper changing area on her own. As I take her diaper off, I tell her what I’m doing. Since this is something we have done for a while, and was admittedly easier to do when she laid very still, she is used to the routine and understands.
Encourage the child to participate in whatever way possible. As young infants, children may just be listening to your descriptions, but with time and consistency they are able to help by pulling their own diapers off or lifting their legs to help.
If the child becomes distracted or disinterested, acknowledge what has caught her or his attention. If she begins to look at her hands or in the direction of a sudden noise, I’ll tell her that I heard it too.
Move at a pace that the child can respond to. This is the toughest for me. When my daughter is trying to crawl away, I am eager to work fast to get that diaper on. When I respond to her movements in a way that gives her time to participate, I am giving her a chance to learn from this experience and to cooperate, which can sometimes be a struggle.
Changing diapers can be a time when we try to distract or cajole children into cooperation so that we can get the job done, or it can be an exercise in developing our children’s sense of self. When we can take the time to convey respect for the child’s interests by working with them to change a diaper, we can show our children the respect we have for them.