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TIPS for occupying a wiggly baby during diaper changes!

Posted by Becca on 5/6/2014 to Cloth Diaper Humor

TIPS for changing diapers worn by wiggly babies!

So, I just sat down after a diaper change, but it might as well have been a wrestling match. My 10 month old is tired. He’s halfway between his afternoon feeding and his afternoon nap so he’s at that place where he acts like he has all this energy to play, but he’s really rather grumpy and sleepy. Needless to say, this meant that his diaper change didn’t go well for either of us.

I laid him on the table and removed his pants. I placed said pants over his head to keep him occupied. He chewed on them for all of two seconds and then flipped over. I flipped him back and removed his diaper. He flipped over again while I pulled the insert out and stuck the pocket and it’s absorbency in the pail.

I flipped him back and investigated his butt for rash. He flipped over while I grabbed the coconut oil.

I flipped him back to apply the coconut oil. He flipped over while I reached for a prefold.

I flipped him back and was holding his legs up to stick the diaper underneath his bum anddiaper change he tried to flip while in the air. This didn’t work very well for either of us so he screamed at me, frustrated that was now dangling in the air rather than on his belly. Just as I got him on his back again and pulled the prefold up through his legs, I noticed his belly button seemed irritated and decided the prefold wasn’t a good idea because he was too wiggly for me to be able to fold it low enough. I put the prefold back and grabbed a smaller fitted and he flipped over.

I flipped him back. I grabbed his feet to stick the fitted under his bum and he was twisting and grunting in the air again.

diaper change I flipped him back and snapped the fitted and then grabbed some antiseptic and a q­-tip to clean his belly button. He peed while I cleaned it. I removed the diaper. He flipped over.

I flipped him back and removed the fitted diaper. I held a hand firmly on his belly while dumping the soiled fitted and reaching for a clean one and he grunted and screamed. I replaced his diaper. He flipped over as I reached for a diaper cover. I let him flop happily on his belly for the minute it took me to snap the cover down low enough to give his belly button breathing room.

I flipped him back and stuck him in the cover. I decided his belly button might be yeasty so I prepared to squirt some breastmilk on it. He flipped over. I flipped him back and filled his little belly button with my milk. He screamed while I held him flat, eager to let the milk sit in there for a few seconds at least. Then, I gave in and pulled him up, holding him close while he complained about the whole ordeal into my shoulder. That may have been one of the most exhausting diaper changes ever.

Diaper changes aren’t always that bad. Certain factors such as a tired baby, and a Mommy who is not feeling creative are definitely contributing factors to difficult diaper changes with wiggly babies. But diaper changes with Bear are always a tad more difficult than they were with his sister. She did the flipping thing too, but not so vigorously or with as much perseverance as her brother and she was very easily distracted from whatever it was that caused the flipping or the wiggling. He’s a very physical little guy and sometimes changing his diaper requires a bit more muscle than the average diaper change. I still prefer using my angel folded prefolds fastened with pins and covered with a diaper cover despite his wiggles so I’ve had to find ways to keep the little man still and on his back with his fingers away from the sharp pins as I poke them through the layers. When he’s not flipping over, he’s grabbing the cover of the changing table mat, trying to eat his diaper cover (the one that’s been used a couple times already today), pulling my hair, or grabbing his toes or other body parts. Sometimes, he’s even trying to remove the diaper that I’m trying to fasten. He’s a busy little guy and quite honestly, I think diaper changes cramp his style.

Sometimes, little tricks can help keep him occupied for the 30 seconds I need to change his diaper. Sometimes they don’t and 30 seconds stretches to 3 minutes. But it’s worth a try.

TIPS for making diaper changes easier

Here are some of the things I try:

My little bear loves fabric in his face. Blankets, clothing, diapers—he loves that moment of breathlessness when the fabric first touches his nose and mouth. He squeals, giggles, and flails excitedly, completely forgetting that his dirty diaper is being removed as he revels in a swaddling blanket, a pair of pants, or the corner of the curtain in his face.

Sometimes it helps to give him a toy he never gets to play with—a toy strictly reserved for the changing table. Our bottle of unpetroleum jelly was that “toy” for awhile. He loved that thing and would hold it, shake it, twist it, wiggle it, and eat it to his little heart’s content. Soon, though, he started experimenting with the container by dropping it and rolling over to play with it, which sort of defeated the purpose.

A favorite toy might be helpful too. Recently I found these indestructible baby books that feel like real paper but can safely be chewed and Bear loves eating, crumbling, and manipulating those. Before the novelty has worn off, those are a helpful diaper­changing distraction. He also really loved playing with my canning rings for awhile. But only for awhile.

I also bought a chewbeads necklace. I wear it and he chews on it. When he’s being changed, I’ll often remove it and give it to him until we’re all done.

I’ve never tried this, but it seems that hanging a mobile or something fun to look at above the changing table might help. We have polka­dots painted on his ceiling, but he’s long since tired of those. Maybe a spinning or fluttering mobile might help. Maybe not.

Distracting him with silly songs or weird noises sometimes works if he’s in the mood to be amused. Usually high pitched, crazy noises or songs work. But it only buys me a few seconds before the rolling, kicking of the diaper cover, eating of the curtains, and kicking begins again.

Tickles are currently the best weapon in my arsenal. He loves when I blow raspberries or tickle his little chin and he waits eagerly for the next round of tickles while I unfasten a pin or wipe his little bum. He’s so excited to be tickled again that he’s waits there perfectly still for 5­10 seconds which buys me enough time to move the diaper changing process along.

I’m blessed to have a little helper this time around. Baby Bear’s big sister, Bunny, is a huge help! He thinks she’s hilarious and often she’ll hang out at the head of the changing table during a diaper change to interact with him. She sings or talks to him and he is sometimes in the mood to giggle back at her. Other times this backfires. He is so excited to see her he starts rolling over again, though! Mainly, I love how Bunny is able to come and grab his arms when I remove a poopy diaper because that’s always the time that he’s most interested in touching his diaper and private parts. She has saved me from many a messy clean­up that way!

If Baby Bear is hungry or fussy for whatever reason, he’s going to hate his diaper change even more than normal. He will scream, and kick, and fight which is definitely worse than the curious, playful wiggly diaper change. I usually like to change diapers immediately, but if he’s really hungry or in need of some Mommy snuggles, sometimes it’s best to just do that first so he’s a happy baby on the table rather than an angry one. It’s less stressful for both of us that way.

Each baby is different. My daughter was usually successfully distracted with one or all of the above mentioned methods but they only work %25­%50 percent of the time with my curious, busy, little son. He is SO much more interested in anything but a diaper change and often gets angry any time I so much as bring him close to the changing table. So frankly, the best tool in my arsenal is a strong arm. He hates me for it, but I’ve learned to change his diaper one­handed so I can hold him down with my other arm. I’ve also found that he has trouble rolling over if I’ve grabbed both his feet by the ankles and bent his knees. If his legs are straight, he’ll just roll over in the air and I’ll have a planking little baby hanging from his feet while I try to wrestle him down into the diaper again! My pinned prefolds under a cover can be tricky with a wiggly little one but they’re my favorite so I’ve learned to cope. My husband still prefers pockets most of the time with an occasional fitted diaper under a cover. I default to a fitted diaper if he’s giving me a super hard time.

So, what are your tricks for keeping your baby occupied when it’s time to change their diaper? Do you have a cooperative little one like my daughter Bunny or is your baby more like Bear who prefers a wrestling match? Do you have any advice for keeping him happy and on his back for the duration of his diaper change? I’m always looking for new tricks!



Date: 5/6/2014
I need to know more about these books!
Melissa Larkin
Date: 5/6/2014
I can completely relate to this! I try to have all the needed items on the table before I start to make the process easier. My son likes things that crinkle, so usually a pack of nose wipes keeps him entertained, but not always!
Date: 5/7/2014
The books are called "Indestructibles." I found them at Cotton Babies.
Kim H
Date: 5/7/2014
With my 2 year old we did some gentle training so he knew that when on the changing table he wasn't supposed to roll. It took a ton of time, but made our changes more successful! We are starting the process with our 7 month old, so hopefully it works as well again!
Leela R
Date: 5/8/2014
OMG, your son sounds EXACTLY like mine, down to the planking baby at the end. I also have two sets of Indestructible books, which we love (I got mine at Frankly, any book works if he's in the mood for it. We do have a mobile and that works sometimes too. I point out the different animals and make the animal sounds which entertains him. This AM I resorted to the iPad. Sometimes this works, sometimes not. This morning though, it worked. I had one of his favorite apps up (Tap Tap Baby), and he spent most of the diaper change tapping the different shapes, listening to the girl voice say the names of the shapes, and then tried to repeat her. At 15 months he's still not saying any words, but he almost repeated "triangle," which was a triumph on many levels and he was pleased when I stopped the change momentarily to praise him :)
Rebecca T
Date: 5/8/2014
My baby is just getting into the wiggly stage (though she doesn't roll yet). Changing her is starting to be a challenge. But if there's someone else around who can smile at her and talk to her it will usually keep her occupied and make it much easier to change her.
Lindsay H
Date: 5/9/2014
Yes! My sons are both flippers! I have the best luck with something he doesn't normally get to play with, like all his older brother's action figures, or a necklace of mine, etc.
Lisa Gayer
Date: 5/9/2014
My daughter is very wiggly! LOL I try to give her stuff to play with. Sometimes it helps and sometimes it doesn't!
Date: 5/9/2014
I have a wiggly worm too. I've tried almost every trick in the book! Singing works pretty well sometimes.
Audrey Mullen
Date: 5/9/2014
right now my babe is almost 4 weeks old and screams bloody murder through every diaper change. I dont know which is worse, the wiggling or the screaming stage! haha!
Date: 5/9/2014
I love this, it's so helpful. My 9 month old thinks diaper change time is wrestling time, and tries to sit up, roll over, and generally do anything and everything he can to make it impossible to get a diaper on him. I'll have to try some of these and see if anything works for him :)
Hayley Elliott
Date: 5/9/2014
My little mister is definitely the most wiggly during diaper changes. He loves to play with a wipe while I'm trying to get the job finished or rub a little coconut oil on his hands and face. His big brothers can also be great distracters while I clean a dirty booty.
Hayley Elliott
Date: 5/9/2014
My little mister is definitely the most wiggly during diaper changes. He loves to play with a wipe while I'm trying to get the job finished or rub a little coconut oil on his hands and face. His big brothers can also be great distracters while I clean a dirty booty.
Crystal Rothgeb
Date: 5/9/2014
I have a wiggle worm as well. Its like wrestle mania every diaper change. Definitely looking into the suggested books. Great article!
Lara Clinton
Date: 5/10/2014
Whew, this was always the most exhausting part about when I worked in daycare. I'm so thankful I had that practice with so many kinds of kids so that when we have ours, my arsenal of ideas is full. This article is good!
Date: 5/10/2014
I have a newborn who is sooooo wiggly, I thought that came later on. I'll probably invest in some chewbeads.
christine k
Date: 5/11/2014
When your LOs were old enough, we would name body parts and point to them... then have LO point to them. After a little bit, they viewed it as a fun game, they held still, and we didn't have issues with them reaching for poop. When they were too little for that, I'd give them something like my mommy necklace to hold on to.
Riana Stromski
Date: 5/11/2014
I just give my LO whatever is laying around. Sometimes it's a toy, sometimes a shoe, or even a clean diaper! So far that always satisfies him!
Diana Matlock
Date: 5/12/2014
Honestly I have got really good at changing babies while they stand up. Otherwise I usually hand them whatever interesting thing that is within reach.
Date: 5/12/2014
haha....I change mine on the floor, and pin their arms down with my legs!!
Ashlee B
Date: 5/12/2014
Thanks for the tips. I'm sure these will come in handy for my new little miss.
Sarah Hanna
Date: 5/12/2014
We have a wiggler!
Amanda Felton
Date: 5/16/2014
thank you for the tips. I am looking forward to trying some new methods when our next little one comes along -- in about a month!
Desiree Young
Date: 5/16/2014
Omg I have b/g twins 8 months old and she does this sometimes but good lord it's like WWE every time I try to change him
Laura Richardson
Date: 5/16/2014
Our first three were never too much trouble to change, but #4 will be here in two months--we'll see how it goes!
Mindy S
Date: 5/16/2014
Awesome!! Thanks for the good ideas!! I always hand over the cell phone :/
Date: 5/17/2014
Good ideas. Changing an older baby can be so difficult. I'm usually the recipient of numerous donkey kicks while trying to change. Singing usually helps but sometimes there is nothing to do but muscle through it.
Jessica Sawyer
Date: 5/18/2014
All that works for my son, and it's about 50/50, is handing him a sippy with water or juice.
Tiffany W.
Date: 5/25/2014
Thank you for the wonderful ideas!
Tracy M Dennison
Date: 5/30/2014
All that works half the time here, lol. THe other half we just kind of wing it!
Kristen Pack
Date: 5/31/2014
The Indestructible books are a HUGE hit in our house! Definitely get props for being easy to clean if a diaper change goes awry. ;)
Maegan Washington
Date: 6/4/2014
This is a great post and will definitely help us out. Our little one is a fighter when it comes to diaper changes and getting clothes on.
Laurie P
Date: 6/4/2014
I used to have a her an empty jar of cream or something similar always worked well.
Date: 6/5/2014
I love the book idea!
Stephanie P.
Date: 6/21/2014
Wile my little guy isn't here yet, for my nephew and niece we used to sing silly songs to distract them (hands up! or if you're happy and you know it were the two favorites).
Tara Cockrill
Date: 6/24/2014
We currently do some of these, but I learned some new ones. Thanks for sharing!
Holly Wells
Date: 6/29/2014
Thank you for the awesome ideas!
Andrea Harley
Date: 7/4/2014
Jacey Blain
Date: 7/5/2014
These are great ideas!!!! :) Thank you
Kara Sylvester
Date: 7/12/2014
This sounds so much like our little guy to a t! When desperate (because of a hurry or a big diaper mess) we change him on a mat on the floor so i can pin his arms down with my feet. I don't lay my legs right on him so he can still move his arms but they stay out of the way. The baby is NOT a fan of this but it works. Wish i had a big sibling to help!
Date: 7/20/2014
My 7 month old has been getting more and more difficult to change. What is working for us now is handing him our big tub of CJ's BUTTer... closed, of course! He loves that thing and it will usually occupy him for long enough for a quick change.
Audrey G.
Date: 7/21/2014
I always hand her the brightest, funnest looking cloth diaper we have (Currently BumGenius Piccadilly Circus). She spends so much time examining it that I can quickly finish the diaper change with limited wiggles.
Savannah Turner
Date: 7/24/2014
Good ideas! My 5 mo already seems to move more during a diaper change than other times! :-)
Date: 7/25/2014
Really enjoyed this! Great ideas, and I need those books! My little guy is almost three months, so no huge issues yet. My older two boys always gave me a run for my money. I would occupy them with a small toy, funny noises/ faces, or even a wipe if I was really desperate.
Vicki H
Date: 8/9/2014
This is a big problem for us. He likes to wiggly and try to get up and run away. It makes putting diaper covers with inserts on very diffacult Lol. Hopefully this will help.
Theresa Hover
Date: 1/31/2015
All great tips! I'll keep these mind :) My friend has wooden alphabet letters velcroed to the wall above the changing table. She grabs one off, and hands it to baby to chew on and they talk about it. I thought this was a great idea!
Date: 3/1/2015
Love this! My 10 month old is starting to be a serious wild thing during diaper changes.
Kayla McGinnis
Date: 3/27/2015
We are so struggling with this right now with my 12 month old. Most diaper changes he screams and cries and tries so hard to get flipped over on me. He is so stinkin strong too. It takes a lot for me to get him turned back over when he gets a good grip on the side of the changing table. Right now my phone is about the only thing that will distract. I generally save that for really nasty poo diapers or diaper changes in public. Of course he always ends up calling people like he did tonight ;)
Kayla McGinnis
Date: 3/27/2015
We are so struggling with this right now with my 12 month old. Most diaper changes he screams and cries and tries so hard to get flipped over on me. He is so stinkin strong too. It takes a lot for me to get him turned back over when he gets a good grip on the side of the changing table. Right now my phone is about the only thing that will distract. I generally save that for really nasty poo diapers or diaper changes in public. Of course he always ends up calling people like he did tonight ;)
Date: 6/5/2018
Wow, struggling is one thing. He used to do that and I'd get sore from diaper changes. But now he started to touch his diaper or behind during a diaper change when there's poop! I just can't handle it! Still, no way am I giving him a cold shower! So we, as a society, moved away from spanking but now we're applying Guantanamo style training? WHAT??
Eileen Wineinger
Date: 6/13/2019
Hi there this is my first time to read your blog. I Google searched changing a wiggly baby into cloth diapers and the search returned your blog. at least now after reading it I feel solidarity with another mom who has a wiggly determined baby. My son is 8 months he's my first and we just began cloth diapering a few weeks ago with a limited stash of supplies. Not all my inserts match my covers and I don't have pockets but two or three. I have all in ones on order and I'm trying desperately to learn how to use prefold with snappies. In the short week or two I've just about throwing in the towel everyday and also been encouraged at the end of the day thinking I can do it. thanks for your tips about keeping him satisfied with cuddles and food I think that would help my little guy too. When he was younger he liked the chicken piano with the mobile over his head. But now he just tries to stand up with it so we only use it in his playpen. Pickles and toys work sometimes. thanks again for the encouragement I will probably be reading your blog now.

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