Diaper changes and feeding patterns are the first lessons you teach, even before sleep. Adapting to your growing changing baby can be difficult and many mom's find themselves struggling with diaper changes and busy babies on the go!! When babies become mobile they find diaper changes an inconvenience. Babies are starting to assert themselves and make decisions based on wants not needs. When you first notice your little one struggling with diaper changes, consider what developmental stage your baby is at. Now is the time to rethink your sleeping and feeding patterns as well. "Wants" and "Needs" start to blend together! The key is to help your baby understand that "needs" will always be met but there are limits set on your baby's "wants!"
Feeding is managed by reconsidering those demand feeds and switching to scheduled feeds if you haven't already. Volumes and timing for each feeding should be documented to avoid comfort feeding and emotional dependency on feeding. Diaper changes need to managed too! Teaching your baby to wait during a diaper change is a wonderful skill for them to master. Babies who learn patience at a very young age, have better coping skills, learn to focus sooner, and are better equipped to manage emotions in pre-school. Teaching these simple concepts can actually accelerate your babies IQ!!
Babies are smarter than we think! They understand a lot more than we realize and can learn these concepts as young as 6 months old. When teaching through positive reinforcement with sensory rewards and praise, you can manage those diaper changes without jumping through hoops and standing upside down!! Begin with simply asking your baby to "wait!" It's all about the tone of voice, the expression on your face and the anticipation that something good is about to happen!
Babies can only wait for a few seconds in the beginning, but with practice you can have your baby waiting for 5mins or more while you calmly change their diaper. After introducing the phrase word and using the facial expression to communicate excitement, you pick your baby up, twirl around with him and reward with kisses and giggles!! Every time you change your baby teach the lesson and have a special reinforcement tool only used for diaper changes, I like to use bubbles, wind chimes or a bright balloon and offer the sensory reinforcement after the word "wait" is used.
Every baby has a favorite object or tool you can use for the reinforcement. Finding the right one is the key! The sensory reward becomes the distraction but over time this won't be enough to keep them occupied. The distraction must be paired with the praise and the word "wait!" Lay baby down, say the word "wait," now show them the balloon or bubbles. Change the diaper and repeat the word again just before the diaper is complete. This time pause before picking your baby up and reward with giggles, spinning and play. After a few weeks your baby will anticipate positive connections with laying down for diaper changes. These tools can be transferred to crib time and sleep!
This simple trick can be used for so many things and best of all...your baby will be smarter because of it!!
I love making things easier for you. Feel free to join me for a free consultation anytime.
Shawnee Baker RN, Sleep Consultant and Developmental Care Specialist