Diaper changes certainly aren’t fun for anyone involved but if your baby seems to hate them all of a sudden, you’re not alone. If your baby cries, screams, or constantly wiggles during diaper changes, you might wonder why your baby is unhappy and need some ways to calm them down.
Almost all babies will suddenly seem to hate diaper changes at one point or another. Infants often get cold easily, suffer from diaper rash, scare easily, and generally cry more often. Older babies, meanwhile, don’t like to be restrained during diaper changes or being pulled away from fun activities to do it.
There isn’t one specific reason but knowing what some of the most common reasons are will help you figure out what’s going on with your little one. We’re here to provide you with the most common reasons babies hate diaper changes. Keep reading to hear our 10 quick fixes on calming your baby down during diaper changes.
Common reasons why your baby hates diaper changes
Especially if your baby seemed tolerant of diaper changes before, you’re probably confused as to why your baby hates them all of a sudden. Babies change all the time and it’s not your fault if you seem unhappy on the changing table. However, finding out the reason will help you fix it and make your baby more comfortable.
Depending on the age of your baby, most parents find that making a slight change helps their baby feel more comfortable. Your baby’s discomfort might have a simple solution. Think about the time of day and what part of your routine you’re on when you change your baby’s diaper. If you always have to change their diaper before a feeding or a nap, they might simply be tired or hungry.
Another common reason is babies get cold when you take their clothes and/or diaper off. Especially with younger babies, diaper changes can sometimes get messy and if you remove their clothes every time you change their diaper, the cold might be what’s bothering them.
No matter what’s going on with your baby, here are some of the most common reasons why babies get upset during diaper changes.
Babies get cold easily when clothes and diaper are removed
Although older babies likely aren’t bothered by this, younger babies hate the cold.
Newborns are especially sensitive to temperature changes. According to Stanford Children’s Health, babies lose heat nearly 4 times faster than adults. This is why babies are often put under a heater right after they’re born. The younger they are and the less body heat they have, the harder it is for them to regulate their own temperature, and they often have to express energy to do so. If your baby is feeling cold during a diaper, this might be the source of their discomfort.
Be on the lookout for shivering and a change in skin color that can alert you to the fact that your baby is too cold.
Diaper rash makes changing diapers uncomfortable
Diaper rash is a common problem for many babies, and it can make diaper changes difficult.
A baby that has diaper rash likely will not want to be wiped. Diaper rash can be pretty uncomfortable and sometimes painful if it’s bad enough. Especially if your little one has frequent diaper rash, they may anticipate a diaper change being uncomfortable or painful even after the rash goes away.
Keep an eye out for red skin that indicates irritation is happening. Be sure to keep your baby’s diaper area dry and change the diaper more frequently, not less, if you are having problems with diaper rash. Of course, you can always apply some of my favorite diaper creams to help speed recovery as well.
Diaper changes are a new experience for newborns
Of course, everything is new for newborns and diaper changes are no exception.
If your newborn seems to hate getting their diaper changed, it might simply be because they’re not used to the experience. Over time, your little one will get used to diaper changes and will start to feel more comfortable.
Keep an eye out for startle reflexes and your baby’s ‘scared cry’ to determine if this is the issue.
Older babies don’t like to be restrained in their movement
Every parent knows babies get to a point where they start to become independent.
At this phase, they usually become upset and frustrated when their movement is restricted. They may experience outbursts when they’re in their car seat, strapped into a shopping cart, and also when getting a diaper change.
Keep an eye out for kicking, twisting, and general uncooperative behavior for this issue.
Your baby might be tired or hungry
The time that you’re changing your baby’s diaper can greatly affect their temperament.
If your little one is tired or hungry, they’re more likely to throw a fit while you try to change their diaper. You can tell if this is your little one’s issue by paying attention to the time of day when you change their diaper. If you typically change your baby right before you feed them, try changing them right after instead.
Constipation can cause pain during diaper changes
Constipation is another reason babies can be upset during diaper changes. You might go to change your little one’s diaper, but may not know they’ve been constipated. Straining during a bowel movement is sometimes normal, but not excessive straining.
If you’ve noticed your baby constantly straining or grunting before a diaper change, constipation may be the issue. You might also want to check for blood in the stool or other tell-tale signs that there is a problem. If so, ensure that your baby is getting enough fluids and, if she is eating solids, consider adding more fibrous foods into her diet.
There could be an underlying medical issue
If none of these reasons seem to be the cause of your baby’s discomfort, it’s possible there could be an underlying issue causing your baby’s discomfort, such as reflux. Reflux is typically worse when babies are lying down, so it is possible that while your little one is lying down for a diaper change, their reflux is acting up.
In most cases, the reason your baby is resisting a diaper change is nothing serious, but if your gut tells you there might be something else going on or there are any other concerning symptoms, it’s best to get it checked out. Be sure to speak to your child’s pediatrician right away if you suspect there may be something else going on.
How to stop your baby from crying during diaper changes
As you now know, there are many different reasons a baby may hate diaper changes. From diaper rash to hunger pains, there are some pretty easy fixes to most of these problems. Depending on the reason your little one is fighting diaper changes, here are 10 quick fixes to help your baby feel calm and comfortable during a diaper change.
Keep your baby warm
If cold is the reason your baby is upset, be intentional about making sure your baby is kept warm. Try to keep their clothes on during the change if you can. When there’s a blowout and you need to change your little one’s clothes, place a blanket over your baby while you change their diaper and clothes. Using a wipe warmer is also a good way to keep the cold wipes from shocking your baby.
Something that my wife and I learned about with our last two babies that I don’t remember being available with the twins is the ‘reverse-zippered’ outfits. Essentially, the zipper starts at the top and ends at the bottom near your baby’s feet. This is great because you can simply unzip just enough to change the diaper and you won’t have to take off the whole outfit to do it – keeping your baby warmer.
If you haven’t seen them, here are some good examples.
Give them something to play with
For babies who squirm and cry during diaper changes, toys that make noise are a great way to get them to calm down and stay still.
Toys such as baby paper or rattles are both great options. If your older baby seems to be upset because you’ve taken them away from their toys, allow them to bring a toy with them. This will help keep them entertained while you change their diaper.
If you rush through the diaper change and seem flustered, your baby will pick up on your emotions and that will make them even more anxious. Take the time to connect with your little one if they are truly upset.
You want to be as efficient as you can to avoid your baby getting more upset but if you need to stop and help them calm down, that’s okay. Listen to your baby’s needs and adjust accordingly.
Sing to your baby
Songs are a great way to calm your little one down during a diaper change. You don’t have to be a musician for your baby to love your singing voice.
Music is also very soothing for little ones, and it will calm them down especially if you sing a familiar song. In order to make this most effective, choose a song that you only sing during diaper changes. Once your baby becomes familiar with the song, it will give them something positive to look forward to.
Use a portable changing pad
If picking up your baby and moving them to another location seems to upset them, get a portable changing pad and change them on the spot where they’re playing. You can keep clean diapers and wipes nearby if you notice they get most upset when you take them away from their toys.
Changing your baby wherever they’re playing may not be sustainable long term, but it will be helpful in the short term while your baby gets through this phase.
Having everything you need in one spot is key to an efficient and successful diaper change. If you have all of your clean diapers, wipes, diaper cream, and anything else you need right by your diaper station, you’ll be efficient and to finish your diaper change quickly. Having a diaper caddy or organizer will help you keep everything you need in one location.
Narrate what you’re doing
It may make you feel silly at first, but narrating what you’re doing may help your baby calm down.
Just the sound of your voice will be soothing to your baby, and it will give them something to focus on while you’re changing their diaper. As a bonus, narrating what you’re doing will also help to improve their speech and vocabulary as well.
It doesn’t always take a toy to distract your baby.
Offering them an item they wouldn’t normally get to play with can be a great way to keep them occupied while you change their diaper. Try letting them hold the container of diaper cream, giving them an empty wipes container, or another item that you only bring out during diaper changes. Allowing your little one to play with this item only during changes will help keep them distracted and interested in the item.
Let them stand up
When your baby has a messy diaper, you don’t have much of a choice other than laying them down and changing the diaper as quickly as possible. But during the times when you’re only changing a wet diaper, try letting your baby sit up or stand up while you change them.
Taking a diaper off, wiping, and dressing your baby can be done while they’re standing, but it might take some practice on your end.
Offer some control
Although it may seem silly to ask your baby if they want their diaper changed (they don’t!) building that trust and offering some control and choice matters even at an early age.
If your little one is playing, tell them it’s time for a diaper change. When they seem really interested in what they’re doing, set a timer instead and give them a few more minutes. Be sure to let them know when the timer goes off, it’s time to get changed.
Even though younger babies may not understand this, the older the get the more they will become accustomed to these routines.