Every child gets a little wriggly during diaper changes, mainly because they’d rather be playing or exploring (basically anything that doesn’t involve staying still!).
If your little one is akin to a mini Houdini at the changing table, it may be time to try some new tricks of your own.
Here are our 17 tips for dealing with a rolling baby during diaper changes…
1. Never Leave Baby Unattended
It should go without saying that you should never leave your baby unattended on a changing table, though accidents can happen even when you’re right by their side.
Don’t beat yourself up if your little one has squirmed to the point of falling off their table as it’s more common than you think.
Just be more vigilant next time, and know what to look for if it happens.
2. Use the Safety Straps
Many changing mats have a thin safety strap across the middle to keep baby gently pinned in place.
Just bear in mind that these straps are likely to work best on babies 18 months and younger since an active soon-to-be toddler can break through them easily
3. Have Everything Within Reach
Turn your back long enough to fetch a clean diaper or rash cream from the other side of the room, and your little escapologist will have wriggled away, so it’s a good idea to make sure you have everything nearby in a diaper bag or on the changing station.
4. Switch to a Contoured Changing Pad
Contoured changing pads like this one designed with a slight wedge at each side are a game-changer for diaper time as they keep your little one in a safe “dip” in the middle of the mat.
These pads can be placed on tables, on the floor, and on any flat surface when you’re on the go.
5. Engage Your Baby
Let’s face it, changing diapers is not riveting, but your baby is likely to pick up on this sense of regimental boredom from you and become fidgety.
Try to keep them engaged with some chatter, silly faces, or an exaggerated game of peekaboo.
6. Sing a Silly Song
Samantha Radford from the Evidence-Based Mommy blog recommends having a go-to diaper-changing song like singing and playing patty cake while they’re on their changing pad.
“The fun thing about patty cake? Eventually, your baby comes to expect it and starts clapping with you, even before you start the song again. It’s super cute.”
7. Keep a Few Special Diaper Changing Toys Handy
It’s handy to keep a few special toys near your changing table that your little one only gets to play with during diaper-changing time.
Be sure to have a selection of diaper-time toys to rotate so they don’t play with the same one too often and get bored!
8. Give Baby Something New To Examine
Your baby will become overly familiar with their toys after a while, so try giving them something different to examine.
An old remote control or car keys can be fascinating for your baby to inspect.
Even something mundane like a crinkly empty bag of wipes or a cardboard tube could prove to be a decent brief distraction.
9. Try a Projector on the Ceiling
Keep baby entertained while on their back with a colorful light show.
A music and starlight projector like this one casts a dazzling LED night sky display across the ceiling and even comes with pre-set lullabies to make diaper time more atmospheric.
10. Have an Older Sibling Help
An older child can be a great help during a diaper change. Help your restless toddler feel useful by gently holding down their little sister/brother’s hands or playing peekaboo to help them stay put.
Kids bonding and a wriggle-free diaper change — that’s a win-win!
11. Ask Partner To Help
Sometimes your pint-sized Houdini is too much for just one parent, so for safety, sanity, and cleanliness, enlist your partner to hold them down and sing silly songs while you focus on the task at hand!
12. Keep Hold of the Ankles
Try to keep hold of your little one’s ankles as the change will go a lot smoother if their legs stay close together.
There’s a lot to be said for keeping pants on around their ankles during a diaper change for this reason, though you may still need to pin overly active feet down.
13. Hang a Mobile Overhead
One mom on the forum Net Mums found that her son was fascinated by a springy mobile that hung from a hook and bounced above his changing mat.
14. Distract With a Bottle
One of the best times to change your baby’s diaper is halfway through a feed as they’ll feel more settled with a bottle of milk or formula in their hands.
You could also consider distracting them with a homemade bottle toy (an empty bottle of water/juice filled with glitter or small noisy items with the lid screwed on tight) and watch their eyes light up.
15. Make Them Laugh
Sometimes, silliness is the simplest and best trick up your parental sleeve to distract your little one.
Right before changing them, try your go-to party trick that makes them giggle.
If you don’t have one yet, blowing raspberries on their tummy or making strange noises are a good place to start.
16. Switch to Floor Changes
If your baby is becoming too squirmy on a high changing table or they are simply getting big enough for their legs to dangle over the edge, it may be a good idea to move the diaper changes to a floor mat.
Try using one with safety straps and contoured edges to deter little escapologists from rolling away.
17. Try Using Different Diapers
Your fidgety drama queen could be acting fussy during changes because the diaper material doesn’t agree with his/her skin.
If you suspect this to be the case, try switching their usual diapers for a brand that is gentler on sensitive skin, and see if this makes a difference.
Diaper changes are rarely a zen affair, but don’t fret if your little one wriggles and squirms their way through it — this is totally normal and will get easier to handle with practice.
Hopefully, the above tips such as contoured changing mats and a rotation of diaper-time toys will come in handy for you and your little diaper dodger next time. Good luck!
Rebecca is a seasoned copywriter and researcher with over a decade of experience, specializing in parenting topics. With a passion for all aspects of raising children, from breastfeeding to potty training.