Every parent has encountered some resistance at one time or another when they’ve tackled the task of changing their toddler’s nappy, but for some parents, the lack of cooperation is on a whole other level.
Change time meltdowns
Speaking to the Kinderling Conversations Helpline, Mum Rachel said she is at the coalface, dealing with her toddler’s exhausting and at times painful behaviour. A distressed Rachel says changing her daughter’s nappy is incredibly stressful, with the little girl often resisting to the point of making herself physically ill.
“My almost 14-month-old daughter goes absolutely crazy when I lay her down to change her,” Rachel told the helpline on Facebook, admitting she’s tried all the bells and whistles in an attempt to get her to comply.
“She thrashes around and rolling over and gets herself so worked up and upset that she has on occasion vomited. I have tried nappy pants, but she just sits down and cries. I have also tried a special toy for just for her nappy changes, but she throws it away often hitting herself.”
Rachel explains that her daughter is at risk of hurting herself – or others – at change time, and worries that as she grows things may escalate.
“She’s changed in her playmate on the floor as it is too dangerous to do this anywhere else. As she is getting bigger, it’s getting harder to hold her down to get the job done. I dread every nappy change, and I am stuck on else what to try.”
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The struggle is real
Offering advice to Rachel, Mothercraft nurse Chris Minogue says that while Rachel’s struggle with her daughter is very upsetting, it’s not an uncommon one. She’s not alone in her change time battle.
“Lots of children actually go through this period but probably not to that extent … they are the runaway children. You lay them down to change their nappy, and they flip really quickly – and either crawl or walk or run away.”
Chris explains kids often get caught up in a familiar pattern of behaviour, and that shaking up the usual routine by changing toddlers while they are standing up (when possible) may help.
“She’s learnt this behaviour, and she’s learnt that when you change her nappy – I cry or I carry on, or I sit down, or I push you away,” Chris says of Rachel’s daughter. “I think we need to take away that experience for her.”
Change while they play
Chris suggests switching from conventional nappies to pull-ups or nappy pants while trying to develop a new change time routine. Giving her daughter some autonomy and control could also be the answer.
“If she’s playing, I would just let her keep playing,” Chris advises, “then take the nappy pant off and get her to step into the nappy as if they were underwear.”
This can be a little trickier if a child is wearing pants or has done a poo.
“The only difficult one is if she’s done a poop and you have to clean it,” she confirms. “I think with that one you’re just going to have to fight the fight because there’s no other way of getting around that.”
Shake up the established pattern
Chris explains that kids are often very involved in their own activities, and being removed from playing – or forced to be horizontal when they’d rather be vertical – can often be the trigger this kind of behaviour.
“The fact that you’re taking them away from what they’re doing and then laying them down … they don’t want to be laid down anymore because they’re so used to being upright. So this is where the nappy pants work really well.”
Put aside your regular change time routine for one that mirrors your toddler’s on-the-go attitude.
“Go to them where they’re playing. Just pull it [the nappy pants] down. Keep talking to them about what they’re playing and get them to step into the pull-ups or nappy pants, which they are usually really good at by this age and then pull them back up again,” Chris advises.
Being flexible and changing the change time routine altogether may help to break a toddler’s pattern of crying and runaway behaviour.