Home Motherhood The Secret to Changing a Toddler (Who Won’t Sit Still)’s Diaper

The Secret to Changing a Toddler (Who Won’t Sit Still)’s Diaper

by krismkoch
the secret to changing a toddler's diaper

James has never been the best at staying still, but as a toddler, changing his diaper became a real struggle. Now, that Charlotte’s one, I’m remembering just how hard changing a toddler’s diaper can be.  It’s not just that they’re constantly wiggling and fidgeting (which of course they are), but as they get older, my kids just don’t want their diapers changed. They throw fits almost every time we try to change them. With James, it got to the point, where I used to dread changing him. Charlotte is a little easier, but honestly, the stronger she becomes, the harder it is to change her diaper.

Bottom line: Changing a toddler’s diaper is a ridiculous task that will leave you frustrated and potentially with a black eye (true story). It took me awhile to realize that it wasn’t me or my baby, but the reality that toddlers don’t want to sit still or be held down, and squirming quickly becomes a game. Now with Charlotte, I’ve learned some things (thanks moms of the internet and Dr. Gooogle), and I figured I can’t be the only mom out there who struggles to change her toddler’s diaper. (Btw, these are my favorite nontoxic diapers for babies and toddlers that actually last through the night or when you try to avoid changing your child’s diaper until the last minute because it’s such an ordeal.)

So if diaper changes have become a nightmare for you as well, read on. I collected the best tips for a changing a toddler’s diaper.


An overhead mobile worked for us when the kids were babies, but now that they’re moving, it’s not enough to distract them through an entire diaper change. I’ve tried toys and books, but when nothing is working and it’s a total blowout situation that will require a few minutes to change, I will whip out my phone for a YouTube video (usually CocoMelon). Sometimes just talking to them like playing with their toes and blowing on their belly is enough.

Ask permission to change their diaper

Rather than just grabbing them mid-play, ask your toddler if you can change their diaper and invite them to come over to have their diaper changed. They may not want to, but at least that way, they feel like there is choice involved and they’re not just being yanked away from fun. Starting the entire process with a temper tantrum is never a recipe for success.  If they really don’t want to have their diaper changed and they’re not leaking through, or you’re not leaving to go somewhere, consider waiting a few minutes to allow them to wrap up what they’re doing. If it’s their choice, they’re more likely to be on board and not struggle so much. Plus, I heard one of the parenting experts I follow on Instagram talk about how it’s an important way to being teaching our children consent and I like that. Once they’re on the changing table, I will always ask if I can change their diaper and then walk them through what I’m doing.

Try changing them standing up

Ok, this is really hard. It took me awhile to figure it out and I’m only getting better at it with baby #2, but changing a toddler standing up can mean a lot less wriggling. Think about it: would you want someone holding you down for a few minutes? I find Charlotte is much more likely to semi-hold still if I change her diaper standing up. I often need to adjust it once I get it fastened, but both my toddlers were much likely to let me change their diapers if they were standing. If I do lie them down, I try to do it as fast as possible. This gets easier, the more diapers you change. At this point, aka 1 million diapers later, I think I could win a speed diaper changing contest.

Make it a game

This doesn’t need to be anything elaborate, but one of the most effective ways to change a toddler’s diaper is to turn it into a fun experience. Try to sing a silly song, or turn it into a funny story. Act out what you’re doing, or do something silly like trying to put the diaper on their foot. I find the sillier I get, the more cooperative they become. I love doing a game I’ve coined “Where does the diaper go?” where I pretend to put the diaper on different body parts, and they laugh and eventually show me where it’s really supposed to go.

Do it fast

While all these tricks for changing a toddler’s diaper can make it easier, the best way to get it done is fast. Of course, this takes skill but the good news is the more diapers you change, the faster and better you get at it. And luckily, by the time your baby is one, you’ve changed a whole lot of diapers.

Consider potty training

This is probably not what you want to hear, because potty training can feel so daunting. But when changing James started becoming a real struggle, we introduced the potty. We didn’t start training right away, we just put it out there, showed him how to use it, and let him use it when he wanted. We also switched to pull ups for the daytime and even underwear or no pants when he was just home to help him start to get used to it. We used the Oh Crap potty training method (well, our own version of it), and they say 18 months is the best time to start, so it’s something to consider. With that said, we didn’t start potty training in earnest with James until he was two and that worked out well for us. Every kid and family is different and has to move at their own pace and do what’s right for them.
Do you have any tips to make diaper changing easier? Share them please!

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