Shit Show No More
One of the most common challenges parents face are around diapering. The RIE® approach emphasizes diapering as one of the times to emotionally connect with your baby. Starting from Day 1, diapering should be a respectful and unhurried experience. This helps your baby become an active participant in the process as they get older, and you may even start to see signs, very early on, of their participation. They may lift a leg or make eye contact as you talk them through what you are doing, which eventually leads to a much more enjoyable process as your baby gets older. Diapering in this collaborative way can also help to avoid a baby squirming so much that you feel you need to distract them with a toy, or even more extreme, with technology. It can definitely be a slower process but, a much more valuable and rewarding experience for both you and your child. Also, toy distractions and ipads, lose their intrigue eventually; what do you do when that stops working? Some parents have expressed feeling like they’re putting on a full blown circus performance just to get their child through the diapering process. It shouldn’t have to be that hard. Talking to your baby, even during their very first diaper change with you, sets the stage for thousands of diaper changes to come. Involving them and letting them know what you are doing, eventually leads to their participation and cooperation. This obviously looks different for a newborn, mobile infant who wants to roll over, and a young toddler.
Cooperation as mentioned, for a newborn, may be talking to them, waiting for a gesture in response, and making eye contact. A mobile baby or young toddler may want to hold the diaper, feel the wipe before you use it, and be more involved in the process. I recently did a house call for a mom and we helped make her diapering experience become more productive by including choices for her 12 month old daughter. I guided her and the end result looked like this. She started out by making sure all of the supplies were on the changing table (instead of having to dig around for them and open drawers, etc, this eliminates some time by having all the supplies ready), then before just scooping up her daughter, I told her to let her know and wait for a response. She told her daughter she was going to pick her up and waited for her daughter to respond with a gesture or glance in her direction. She then picked her up and we offered her daughter a choice between diapers, she immediately was interested and chose a diaper. From then on it was almost a fun back and forth game between mother and daughter. Her daughter wanted to hold the diaper until mom was ready for it, mom asked her to help pull out the wipe, asked her to lift her leg. Her daughter was truly enjoying the experience and was learning about the steps involved in diapering rather than being distracted from it.
Ok, so lets say you’re past the above stages, you feel it’s too late, and you have a writhing toddler screaming his head off on the changing table. This usually means it’s time to take them off the changing table. Why would a toddler, who is so eager to stand and pull himself up, or walk, want to lay down passively while you change his/her diaper? It’s probably time to set up a diaper changing area in a bathroom. Preferably a place where they can hold onto something. It may seem messier, harder and take longer, but you definitely have a more willing, happy, cooperative child who isn't expected to just lay there. Every time i’ve suggested this to a parent, they come back and tell me how much it’s helped the overall experience. Yes, it can result in a shit show (literally) but most of what I advise doesn’t always guarantee perfection every time, but it does guarantee longevity instead of quick, short lived solutions.
Tess absolutely hated getting her diaper changed from the moment she was born. I couldn’t believe it! I had assumed I’d give birth to an angel baby who would want to participate with me through her diapering experience from Day 1. Instead of giving up on this possibility, I tried anyway. The first few diaper changes I knew she couldn’t even hear my voice because she was crying so loudly. I remained calm nonetheless (which is really hard when I was so hormonal I wanted to cry as loud as her), told her things like “I know you really don’t like this, but we have to do it, and so were going to do it together,” and asked for her participation. Fast forward a few more diaper changes and she now absolutely loves it. I swear, I’m not just saying this. I know she doesn’t fully understand the words I’m saying, but matching those same words with the same actions, she knows was to expect and she’s no longer dreading diaper changes. We’ve built a routine around them that is fun, predictable and collaborative. Now she smiles when I say “first were going to take this leg out!” as she lifts her leg. Diaper changing time is actually a time that I look forward to and is one of the few times she was completely happy during our insane digestion issue stage with her (which I'll talk about during another post). Try it, for at least ten diaper changes. Also, this diaper changing approach makes it impossible for you to be distracted, you’re forced to be focused on your baby, giving her that undivided attention that I promise you’ll never regret giving.
Links to my favorite diaper changing essentials here (comment below if you have questions or want to know anything else I use!):
Butt Paste (Its less intense in terms of chemicals than Desitin but has the same zinc content which is the active ingredient when you notice redness or the beginning of a potential rash developing). However, if there is a full rash or more redness then I'll use Desitin.
Aquaphor I use every single diaper change. I make sure she's dry from the water wipes (usually by waving another diaper to dry it) and then seal the butt area with a thin layer of aquaphor. I also use aquaphor as her lotion after a shower in the creases of her body. It can get sticky so I kind of lather in my hands first to make it thinner, and then just rub into her body. It has no chemicals and does the trick. I haven't had to use any lotions yet on her body.
Pampers sensitive. I thought I'd use organic diapers but I found them scratchy and not as soft. I also like that these have a line indicator. Although we're changing their diapers constantly, there's times when she falls asleep that if I can avoid a diaper change by looking at the line indicator, I'm money.
Water wipes. No chemicals, just water. These are the only wipes I use and they're also great for hands and face.
Mustela for eczema prone skin. I had eczema growing up so this is probably me projecting but I got this, I used it maybe twice for the two times her skin got really scaly and peely (happens to most newborns).
I added the adorable baskets I use on the table to hold essentials, I've become a basket whore since I started nesting, I can't stop buying them and plan to do a post listing all of my favorite baskets just for fun :) but see below for the baskets I use to organize the changing table.