Inside: Is it an epic battle just to change your baby’s diaper? Use these 21 diaper changing hacks to take nappy changes from havoc to calm.

In an arduous attempt to keep poop from being smeared on the couch, I trap my son’s flailing legs with my hand and push the thrashing legs against his body with my elbow. 

Using my other hand, I try to remove the poop convict from the scene before the couch becomes a victim.

It’s too late. 

Upon moving the diaper I notice a great big brown smudge getting ground into the couch cushions and my son’s white onesie.

Sighing, I release his legs and let his bum fall to the cushion. No point in trying to salvage the situation.

Another battle at the change mat and my son has won.


What Went Wrong?

What happened to the 3-month-old who used to lay quietly, contently chewing on his teether while I changed his diaper, mess-free?

He had now turned into a very determined and strong-willed 1-year-old who never stopped moving.

And diaper changes? Those just weren’t on his agenda for the day.

It All Made Sense

I never did understand how some parents would let their babies sit in dirty diapers. Weren’t they supposed to change them right away? Besides, they stunk. I wouldn’t want to be around a baby that smelled that bad.

I finally understood.

I understood that changing a squirmy baby’s diaper wasn’t as easy and plopping them down and exchanging the dirty diaper for a clean one.

Finally, I understood that putting up with the rank smell of a poopy diaper was sometimes more worth it than the fight that came with changing their bum.

Never mind the pee.

Oh, the pee.

I’m sure there isn’t a single object in our house that hasn’t been peed on.

  • the couch
  • the bed
  • my face

Why Do Babies Hate Having Their Diaper Changed?

We all know that most babies hate having their bums changed (albeit there are a few rare ones who don’t mind), but do we really know why?

There are three common reasons a baby may fuss during a diaper change:

  • They don’t know what’s going on
  • It’s hindering newfound skills
  • They feel out of control

For newborns, simply not knowing what’s going on (and of course, feeling cold) is enough to send them fussing as soon as they hear the first button on their sleeper come undone.

What works: 

When changing a newborn’s diaper, try to keep them warm during their diaper changes by placing a warm towel out of the dryer on their chest or keeping their upper half swaddled during the change.

You can also help them learn what’s going on by changing them in the same location every time.

Younger babies may despise diaper changes because being forced to lie on their back is hindering their newfound skills like sitting up, crawling, and/or walking. 

What works:

When changing a young baby’s diaper, if it’s just wet, consider letting them hold on to a piece of furniture to stand up while you change their diaper. Giving them a toy that’s off-limits may also work (more on that below.)

Children ages 18 months – 3 years may throw a fit during a diaper change because they feel out of control. 

While one minute they were contently playing with their dolly, the next they’re getting swooped up and undressed without any time to wrap their head around what’s going on.

What works:

Make older children’s diaper changes easier by having them help out and giving them some control over the situation.

Ask the, “Should we change your diaper now, or in 2 minutes? 2 minutes? Okay, I will set a timer and when it goes off that means it’s time for a diaper change. Okay?” When the two minutes is up, ask them to help out by bringing a clean diaper to the change table and/or gathering the wipes and bum cream.

These are just some of the most common reasons why children may fuss during a diaper change. Keep reading to find 21 more useful diaper changing tips and tricks.

How to Get Baby to Stay Still While Changing Diaper + a Quick Fix For Parents

It took us a year of miserable diaper changes before I found what worked to calm my son down and keep him still while changing his diaper.

A year.

A year of, for the first four months getting peed on at least once a day – with the occasional poop smear thrown in there – and then the remaining 8 months dealing with a squirmy, screaming baby who hated every second of the diaper change as much as I did.

I’m sharing this secret and quick-fix to diaper changing problems with you right now because I believe a year is much too long a time to deal with miserable diaper changes.

It was by complete chance that I came across this diaper changing hack that was a total game-changer for us. 

One day, while trying to wrangle my son and keep him on his back, his feet in the air, and his hands from reaching down and grabbing the poop… I desperately reached behind me and grabbed that one thing he was never allowed to touch, but always wanted to.

The remote control.

It was strictly off-limits. A no-go for a baby toy.

But today I was at my witts end and willing to do just about anything to calm the temper (mine and his) and change just. one. diaper. without having to grab the bottle of spray nine to scrub the changing pad after we were done.

The second I released the remote into his hands, his mind instantly forgot about the diaper change that had caused him so much stress not even 1 second earlier and was engrossed in this new toy. 

The rest of the ordeal went sublime.

I went from feeling like I was trying to tame a rampant bull to sitting back in awe because for once in his life, my son wasn’t moving, squirming, or wiggling.

Since we didn’t want him wrecking the TV remote, we went ahead and got him a different “toy” that he can only play with while he’s getting his bum changed. (It’s really not a toy at all – but rather the lid of his diaper cream tin.)

While this is the best method I’ve found to calm my son during diaper changes, it certainly isn’t the only method out there.

Below you’ll find 21 more ways to distract baby while changing their diaper.

Baby Suddenly Hates Diaper Changes? Use These 21 Diaper Changing Hacks

If you’ve ever found yourself hopelessly wondering, “What activity can you do with baby while changing them?” Here’s your answer – 21 of them, actually.

1. Pee-Pee TeePee

If you have a boy, you’ve been peed on. Your bed has been peed on. The floor has been peed on. And, just about anything else you can think of.

Yup, that’s been peed on too.

This first diaper changing tip isn’t so much to make the changing easier and more enjoyable for baby as much as it will for the person changing baby’s diaper.

Grab a Pee-Pee TeePee to cover your son up while changing his diaper and avoid those awful face splashes right as you get the diaper removed. (Or use an old washcloth to cover the explosives.

2. Sing-a-Long

Instead of just singing a song, sing a song with actions.

Laying baby down on their back and clapping their hands or stomping their feet will get them giggling and take their mind off of what’s going on for just long enough to do a quick nappy change. 

Don’t think you know any nursery rhymes with actions that can be done while baby is lying down? Here are a few you can learn.

3. Bicycle Legs

If baby starts fussing, take their legs while they are lying down and playfully push them up and down, up and down, as if they were riding a bicycle. Add some words to make a fun song out of it and distract them.

4. Diaper Changing Toy

This diaper changing tip worked the best for us. Every time I change my son’s bum, I give him a special toy or object that he’s only allowed to play with when he’s getting his diaper changed. 

Since it’s a new, intriguing toy, it keeps him lying still long enough for me to get his bum changed with little fuss.

5. Change of Scenery

Up to 5 months of age, you’ll find yourself changing roughly 8 – 10 diapers every day, with that number slightly decreasing as they get older. 

With an average diaper change taking 5 minutes from start to finish, that means you can expect to spend around 45 minutes every day changing your baby’s bum.

…which also means that your baby is lying in the same position in the same room and expected to sit still and behave with nothing to distract them for 45 minutes every day. 

When you think about it that way… it makes sense that all your baby may need is a change of scenery.

Some misbehaviors from children can also because associated with specific routines or places.

This means that if your child is used to throwing a fit when they see the change table come into view, they may start to do it out of habit – because that’s what they’re used to doing at the change table –  rather than from actually being upset about what’s going on.

A fun little tidbit:

Chris Boggiano writes:

“A conservative estimate says that your baby will need a diaper change seven times a day, and that each change takes five minutes from start to finish. Let’s also assume that your child becomes fully potty-trained at age three.

Three years equals 1095 days. 7 diapers/day multiplied by 1095 days equals 7665 diapers changed. At five minutes per diaper, that’s 38325 minutes in total. That number is the same as 638.75 hours, 26.6 days, and watching Titanic 197.5 times.”

6. Hang a Mobile

Feeding off of the last point, if a change of scenery isn’t feasible, try sprucing up the environment.

One thing you can do is add a hanging mobile above their change table. Hang it just low enough so that they can reach for it and play with it.

7. Be Prepared

In other words, have everything you need for the diaper change ready before you wrangle up your child to change them.

This means having the diaper, wipes, and bum cream all laid out and open and having your diaper changing toy ready to go so you don’t find yourself knee-on-the-chest, hands fully occupied trying to keep feet up, and little hands from reaching into a poopy diaper, using your foot to reach for the bum cream that is placed just out of arms legs reach.

To prevent that scenario, take a minute or two before the bum change to gather all your supplies. Use this time to incorporate step number 11 and 12 from this list.

8. Stay Calm

Your child can sense if you’re getting upset, and if they sense you losing your patience during a diaper change they will feed off of that emotion, working themselves up.

9. Hide and Seek Diaper

When your child is a bit older, you can start playing hide-and-seek with the clean diaper. Hide the clean diaper in your shirt, place it on your head, beside them, or somewhere else easy for them to see, and ask them to find the clean diaper for you by pointing out where it is. 

10. Take Your Time

Most children will be ready to potty train around 2 – 3 years of age. Remember that these diaper-changing days will quickly be a thing of the past, and you may even miss them one day.

Try to treasure these moments and not rush through the process. If you’re calm, your child will be calmer.

11. Let Them Participate

Have your child – when old enough – participate in the diaper changing process by sending them to grab a clean diaper, the diaper cream, and track down the wipes. 

Every child wants to be helpful, so allowing them to participate in a truly helpful way will help the diaper change go smoothly.

12. Give Them Control

No child wants their play to be interrupted by being scooped up and undressed before they can even wrap their head around what’s happening.

Help your child feel a sense of control and participation by saying to them, “Your diaper is dirty and needs to be changed. Do you want to change it now, or in 2 minutes?” If they want to change it later, set a timer for 2 minutes and tell them that when the timer goes off, it’s time for the diaper change.

Not only will this give them a sense of control over the situation, but it will also allow them to anticipate what’s coming so they aren’t interrupted with no warning and no clue what’s going on.

13. Wear a Funny Hat

Grab a silly dress-up hat, like this one, and only wear it during diaper changes. This will give your baby something bright and goofy to look at and keep their mind off of the change.

14. Standing Diaper Change

Some days, fighting to keep your little one on their back while you change them just isn’t worth it. 

If their diaper is just wet, consider allowing them to stand up (in one spot) while you change their bum.

15. Explain What’s Going On

Even before your child can talk, explain to them the diaper changing process.

“Now mommy is going to wipe your bum. It might be chilly, are you ready?” “Now we’re going to put a clean diaper on. Ahh, doesn’t being in a clean diaper feel so much better?”

16. Keep Baby Warm

This is particularly important for newborns and young babies. One of the biggest reasons why newborns scream during diaper changes is because they’re cold.

I’m sure you wouldn’t love being unswaddled and having your clothes ripped off in a cold room if you were used to being inside a warm sauna for the past 9 months, either.

You can keep your baby warm during diaper changes by placing a small towel fresh out of the dryer on baby’s chest or just keeping their upper body wrapped in a blanket while changing them.

You may also want to invest in a wipe warmer so that you don’t need to wipe your little one’s bum with an icy-cold wipe.

17. Keep the Atmosphere Calm

Babies and children feed off of the emotions and atmosphere they’re surrounded by. If you’re wound up, they’re bound to be wound up. If there are 3 kids running, screaming, and playing around them while they’re getting their bum changed… 

…laying still is the last thing they’re going to want to do.

Try to keep the change-room atmosphere calm and quiet, dim the lights, shut the blinds, and sing softly to your baby as you change them.

18. Dolly Diaper Change

If your child is resisting a diaper change, start by having them participate in changing their dolly or teddy, first.

Tell them their dolly or teddy needs a diaper change and you need their help, then teach them how to put a diaper on their favorite dolly or teddy, then explain to them that their diaper needs to be changed, too.

(You can either use one of your child’s clean diapers or grab a pack of dolly diapers.)

19. Activity Center

Keep a booklet of stickers on the change table, and let your child pick one or two stickers each time they get their diaper changed to place on the wall beside them or the side of the change mat.

Or, if you don’t want stickers on your wall, tell your child that they get to choose one special sticker to stick on a piece of paper after the bum change.

Allow them to pick the sticker while you’re changing their bum, then get them a piece of paper for them to put it on after you’re done.

20. Picture Wall

Place bright, fun pictures on the wall next to the change table for baby to look at and touch while getting his bum changed.

21. Remove Breakable Objects

No matter how calm your child is during most bum changes, flailing is bound to happen from time to time. Keep the changing area free of anything breakable – because a broken glass is the last thing you want to deal with when your hands are busy wiping a poopy bum.

Diaper Changing Tips & Tricks

With these 21 diaper changing hacks tucked into your parenting belt, you’ll be set to change even the fussiest of babies bums.

For a quick fix and something you can do NOW, give your child a special object that they aren’t normally allowed to play with to distract them during the diaper change, then order a fake one to be their diaper changing toy so they don’t wreck yours.

(You can get a fake TV remote here.)

Diaper Changing Hacks to Help You Change a Fussy Baby’s DiaperYour Turn

I’d love to know, do you have some diaper changing hacks that you use to make diaper changes less stressful? Feel free to share them with other mamas in a comment below!

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