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The Art of Diaper Change Distraction

The Art of Diaper Change Distraction

There comes a time, in every new mother’s life, when they realize their baby is no longer a tiny lump who is incapable of struggle or boredom. What used to be a well-rehearsed and uneventful diaper change has overnight become a battle of wills. Arms are flailing, legs are kicking, tiny bodies are writhing around trying to flip over and crawl off the changing table to certain death. Your sweet, cooing little bundle is now a demonic ball of energy who will not be satisfied until you are covered in whatever was in that diaper. 

I’m here to tell you there’s hope. It will require you to let go of any remaining dignity, but if you’re anything like the rest of us, you gave up looking elegant and effortless at this motherhood gig a long time ago. Don’t let Pinterest fool you! That curated family photo may show clean, happy, creative, and put together people; but you know in the fifty photos leading up to that, the baby was spitting up on the dog and the toddler was scratching away the vintage wallpaper and eating it.

The art of distraction has been going on for centuries. There’s a reason it works so well. Our children are basically just pudgy little magpies who will respond to anything shiny you dangle in front of them.  With this in mind, I bring you the Mom’sBeyond guide to diaper change distraction:

  • It’s Not A Toy, Who Cares Method

This is the classic first-tier approach to a smooth change. This tried and true method involves keeping something nearby that the baby does not play with regularly because it is not a toy. Often it will be whatever is on hand and not made of razor blades or poison. Some examples may include: the closed diaper cream tube, a clean diaper, a sock, the broken lid to your wipes warmer, etc. Give the baby this thrilling, novel, and (probably) safe item to hold while you speedily get to work. Take away the distraction upon completion and thank the gods of weird nursery items for their bounty. Keep in mind parents, the item you select will probably only work once a day, and maybe only once ever. Make sure you have plenty of ‘I don’t even know what this is, or what it goes to, but it’s too big to choke on and doesn’t appear to be made of baby-poking switch blades so have at it’ items on hand.

  • The Mouth Method

Remember the magpie analogy? I wasn’t joking about the dangling, shiny item. And while shininess is not a requirement, dangling is. This second-tier tactic involves putting a toy in your mouth that has some length to it. Things I will have in my mouth at any given diaper change: a dangly monkey attached to a ring from the play mat that is now attached to my lips as I swing my head around and squeak. I’ve had a stuffed fox by the tail while humming The Pixies and bopping my head erratically. I even held the Nose Frida between my teeth and let the baby make grabs for the suction end. Look, it doesn’t really matter what it is, what matters is that it’s dangling from your mouth while you make insane faces, weird noises, and your fingers work like the wind on those tiny diaper tabs.

  • Calling In The Reinforcements Method

This final and most desperate tier involves asking for help. We all know that the SOS is not an easy call for a mom. It’s hard to admit that we can’t handle one more half-wrestle, half-hokey-pokey match with our baby while simultaneously trying not to be covered in poop. When it does get here, and it will, there are certain protocols we recommend:

  1. Significant Other/Best Friend/Grandparent

Alright, this is the easiest and least creative but also typically most successful call. One of you will be changing the baby, and one of you (the one with the least remaining dignity) will be dancing around, throwing up hands, sticking out a tongue, grabbing stuffed animals and putting on spontaneous puppet shows to keep your baby happy and engaged. Whoever is in charge of the distraction will need to keep spiraling their voice ever upward until the high-pitched screeching causes the baby to erupt into peals of laughter while simultaneously causing all the dogs in the neighborhood to howl.

  1. Pet

I can only speak to dogs, as I don’t have a cat and cats seem far more likely to not give a hoot about your situational anguish, but calling in the family pet could be the difference between success and failure. When using your dog, I suggest bringing the changing pad down to the floor and then calling your extremely skeptical pet over to sit or stand directly above your baby’s head. My baby is obsessed with my dog (the feeling is not mutual) and will stare up into his big brown eyes with a look of adoration that will last the duration of a diaper change. 

(Things can go wrong: dog may decide the diaper is worth investigating, leaving you helpless in the middle of the process while you watch in horror as he begins to eat said diaper. Baby may grab dog’s paws causing the dog to yelp in surprise and launch backwards, also launching your still-attached-baby off the changing pad and thus smearing poop all over that nice rug you’ve just vacuumed.) 

All these methods listed have merit. It’s really a choose your own adventure of triumph and tragedy. Hopefully this guide finds you successful in all future diaper changes. A sense of humor is helpful, a relinquishment of dignity is encouraged, and the creativity that comes with situational parenting is a must. And remember, everyone gets covered in poop once in a while.

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Autumn B

Autumn Bettinger is an outdoor-minded momma with a toddler and a lot to learn. She started writing about her experiences as a way to connect to other mothers and inspire them and their kids to get outdoors. Her blog has since evolved into writings about the day-to-day mom life with sprinkles of environmental education. Turns out, she was going to be an incredibly ambitious backpacking mother... before she had a baby. Now it's everything she can do to keep her son from stuffing leaves in his mouth on walks through the dog park.
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