My 1 year old son is very active, and changing his diaper is increasingly difficult. I've seen temper-tantrums from some other children we know, but they usually stay put. My son arches, flips and actively tries to crawl away. These are things my wife and I have to do to get things done:

  • talking to him (perhaps obvious).
  • distract him with toys, books, things above him--we have a mobile in his room.
  • do most of the work standing up, i.e. undress him.
  • pin him down.

Pinning him down is a last resort, because it aggravates the situation. But sometimes it's needed. I should say, we are gentle, and he's just upset over being restrained.

House hold objects ("forbidden things", e.g. cell phone, paper/wrappings he might eat when unsupervised) are sometimes employed too.

Is there anything else that can be done?

My son knows the word "No", but he's only starting to respond to it as I intended it.

  • This sounds exactly like my daughter and my wife's friends' kids, all of whom are 11 months old. All of the couples employ "tag-team" changing, where one provides the distraction, and the other does the changing.
    – Noah
    Commented May 14, 2014 at 15:10
  • 2
    The toughest thing for me as a parent is answering "Is this 'normal'?" It almost dose not matter, but I always want to know. @Noah thanks for the feedback.
    – Yann
    Commented May 14, 2014 at 15:24
  • Cheers! Now that the weather is warming up, I usually just let my daughter walk around in her diaper, if she's fighting. (She tends to fight getting dressed or re-snapping her clothing more than the diaper)
    – Noah
    Commented May 14, 2014 at 15:29
  • 1
    I learned to change my daughter's diaper while she is standing up. Commented May 15, 2014 at 8:27
  • Both our girls, almost a year old, are the same and sometimes it's a real battle. I've started to only really force a change when it's a dirty diaper or a change before we leave the house. Otherwise for a wet diaper, I'll wait till they are in a more quiet mood to be able to change them. Usually it works when they are in a proper state of mind (already lying down on a pillow, cuddling with me on the floor, when I'm singing a soft song, massaging them...). Good luck!
    – Fanny H.
    Commented May 19, 2014 at 16:45

4 Answers 4


Make sure the changing area is safe. Floor is best.

Make lying down part of a game. Introduce "hide and seek" games - throw thin gauzy material over the face and gently pull it off, sayig "peek a boo!"

Try introducing music.

Try seperating the proces out into several distinct steps to reduce discomfort and risk. Thus, strip clothes then have a break. Remove nappy and have another break. Give child a nappy to play with and place new nappy on, then have a break. Finally re-clothe.

This gives you a chance to discover which part is most traumatic for child and to modify that step to make it more acceptable.

Other things to think about are sensory lights - flashing led strips or a mirror ball may help.


One of the challenges of the toddler stage is that things that worked one time won't work the next. The flip of that is that things that don't work one time might the next. Doing the whole change standing up worked pretty well for us. For a wet diaper this is totally the way to go. And if you discover it's a dirty diaper, you can explain - "I can't clean this if you're standing, let's lie you down for a quick cleanup."

Explaining with a consistent wording "hold still please" rather than "don't wiggle" in the morning, "you're making this take longer" in the afternoon and "hold still" in the evening is sometimes useful. Lots of praise for whatever they do to speed it up such as holding still, lifting their legs, etc. And sure, handing them a toy (unless its one that makes them wiggle) or asking someone else to help you (4 hands sometimes isn't enough for some combinations of mess and wiggling), singing a "hold still" song - whatever works, you do. And tomorrow, you try all the same things again and hope that some of them still work or start working. It will pass, really it will.


Most kids go through a phase like this. The key is to move past it. What you're doing seems reasonable; some kids do need standing changes (especially older ones). A toy often helps (a car or a train or something) for us.

Other things that you can do:

  • Simplify the change. Use clothes that are easier to work with (onesies with snaps instead of pants, or pants that are easy to put on).
  • Play music during the change.
  • After the change, if he/she has been good, have some reward. For us, the reward is pushing the doorbell (which hangs up near the diaper table). This works better at older ages, but our 14 month old has some understanding of it.
  • Start the diaper change with tickling or other positive physical stimulation, so it's not all annoyance.
  • Singing diaper changing songs. We use "It's diaper diaper time, it's diaper diaper time, it is time for diaper time!"

My 2.5 year old son is the same way. He has been unhappy with diaper changes since day one. We tried toys, a wipe warmer, propping him up at an angle in case it was reflux, nothing really helped.

I eliminated most of the issues by switching to pull-on diapers. We've used Huggies Lil Movers Slip-Ons since he started standing around eight months. I usually go up behind him, strip off the old one (they unfasten like a regular diaper or you can pull them down like pants), then let him step into the fresh one.

The only time I have to put him on his back is for poopy changes, and he's usually pretty happy to have those cleaned! I have cleaned poos with him standing but it's harder to be sure everything is clean and the process is more finicky. But it's not impossible -- as he's gotten older he's gotten more accepting of the poopy diaper process.

They're very trim looking, not saggy or baggy. Fit nicely and the pound ranges are pretty accurate (watch or wedgies as a sign it's time to move up). Drawbacks are they're a bit more expensive, only seem to go up to size six, and Grandma sometimes forgets and picks up the plain Lil Movers instead of the Slip Ons.

We also do a lot of tickles and naming of body parts during changing time. Such a great chance to play with baby toes!

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