Changing diapers involves, in many cases, kicking, hitting, rolling over or shouting, all coming from the little one. What if all these could change? This was a question I asked myself right after my baby girl started to roll over (at about 3 mo). As my daughter grew, changing her diaper became a real challenge. I was really upset and disappointed about the situation and tried to find a way to make this a pleasant experience for us both. So, the best thing I came across was the RIE’s approach on this matter. It seemed so easy and natural that I decided to put it into practice.
RIE focuses on the connection between the mother and the baby when changing the diaper. You should try to slow things down, observe your little one and comment on what she’s doing. Tell her what you’re about to do (‘It seems that your diaper is wet. Can you feel it? Now I am going to take off your nappy and hold your legs up, so I can clean your bottom.’). It is a great way to make your baby relax and cooperate.
Be mindful. Diaper changing is uncomfortable for babies. Cassandra Vieten (a licensed clinical psychologist, Executive Director of Research at the Institute of Noetic Sciences, and Scientist at the Mind Body Medicine Research Group at California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute in San Francisco, CA) introduced the concept of “Mindful Diaper Change Practice” in her worth reading book: Mindful Motherhood: Practical Tools for Staying Sane During Pregnancy and Your Child’s First Year. “Mindful Diaper Change Practice” refers to the compassion, calmness and open-hearted full presence of the mother during the diaper change process. This attitude leads to a healthy connection with the baby and induces her the feeling of safety.
Treat your baby with respect. Even if they cannot speak yet or understand words, babies sense your attitude towards them and perceive the tone of your voice. This is the opinion of Magda Gerber, founder of RIE and author of Dear Parent: Caring for Infants With Respect – a great book that encourages parents to treat their babies in a respectful manner.
Slow things down. While talking to your infant during the diaper change and explaining your actions to her, make sure you speak clearly and slowly. Although the whole process takes longer, your baby should have enough time to process your words. Use clear sentences and take a pause after each one of them.
Wait for a break in your baby’s activity (play, meal) to change the diaper. Then, get her attention using words: “I can see you made a poo, do you want me to change the diaper for you?”. Wait for her reaction and act when she is ready.
Ask for your baby’s help (“Will you, please, hold the pack of wipes?”). Your baby’s attitude toward you changing her diaper will become different. She will be interested in the process because she will feel included. If she refuses, you can always respond with: “I am going to… (hold your legs up/hold the wipes etc.) “.
As a conclusion, offer your baby your undivided attention, treat her with respect, communicate while including her in the process, focus on connecting with her, be mindful. By having this attitude, I managed to turn the the ‘burden’ of changing my baby’s diaper into a pleasant activity for both of us, with giggles and smiles instead of restlessness and smirks.
Tell us about your experiences! Have you encountered difficulties in changing your little one’s diaper? How did you cope?