How to Change a Toddler’s Diaper (with Pictures)

I know Baby isn’t technically a toddler yet, but as soon as she became mobile I stopped viewing her as an adorable infant that just lays there and coos. Now she’s this goblin that screeches really loud and high-pitched and gets into everything as soon as my back is turned (or, let’s not kid ourselves, will even try to pull all the books off the shelves while I watch). But this post isn’t about how Baby is trying to be like Curious George. It’s about diaper changes.

Before Baby could move, changing her diaper was easy. You lifted the legs. Wipe here. Wipe there. Slide the diaper under the bum. Drop the legs. Fasten the diaper. And we’re on our way! Until ten minutes later when Baby peed yet again and is crying like a banshee because she doesn’t like the feeling of a wet diaper.

Once Baby learned how to roll, things got a little more complicated. Whenever you’d try to lift her legs, she’d simultaneously turn and arch her back, somehow resulting in all of her weight being placed on her head. Like any decent parent, I don’t like the idea of my infant child doing an unsupported handstand, so when I’d lower her legs to get her to lay down on her back again, she’d flip the rest of the way and would be on her belly. So I’d have to start the process all over again from the beginning.


Now that Baby is fully mobile, changing her diaper is something I loathe. While I used to change her diaper as soon as it was wet, I now push the boundaries, attempting to postpone the diaper battle as long as I can. Now, I could describe to you in a lengthy post about how I manage to get her cleaned up after she does her business, but in this instance, I feel pictures would do a much better job. So, without further ado, How to Change a Toddler’s Diaper, with pictures.

The Traditional Diaper Change

Traditional Diaper Change
The Traditional Change

The Traditional Diaper Change is what you’ve bee doing from Day 1. Your baby lies on his or her back and you change the diaper while making funny faces. You can do it on a changing table, on the floor, or even on your lap (hey, it’s a good skill to have!). I described it in detail above and when you’re using this approach on a newborn or small infant, the only result is success. With an older infant or toddler, you’re bound to end with your baby getting distracted by any plethora of things and immediately attempting to roll away.

Rolling Change
It never fails. Baby ALWAYS rolls.

The Modified Traditional Change (Strong-Arm Approach)

If you’re not ready to give up on the Traditional Change, you can always strong-arm it. There are multiple ways to do this. The husband has been known to place his full palm on Baby’s chest or pelvis to hold her in place. While her legs usually kick and twist up a storm, her torso does not. I’m not that strong, so in the beginning of the mobile stage, I’d just use my entire forearm and apply some of my body weight to keep her still. More often than not, Baby would still win.

I’ve also been known to use my knee once or twice but I wouldn’t recommend it. One small slip and your baby now has a belly button that goes from front to back.

Use The Knee Change
No babies were harmed in the changing of this diaper.

The Four-Legged Change

Once Baby has bested me in the Strong-Arm Approach (see above), she gets on all fours and either attempts to swallow the baby wipe container whole or to crawl towards whatever has caught her eye. After five or so attempts at the Traditional Change, this is usually when I resign myself to the Four-Legged Change. This method goes by many names, The Crawling Change, The Backwards Change, but the approach is the same. After you remove the wet diaper, you place the back of the diaper on your baby’s back and then tuck the front of the diaper through your baby’s legs. Lastly, you attach the sides and move your hands out of the way, because your baby’s on a mission and it wouldn’t be prudent to get in between your baby and that [fill in the blank].

Four-Legged Change
If you can’t beat em, join em.

The Seated Change

When Baby is too fast for me, it’s time to switch gears with The Seated Change. To do this, you get the back of the diaper against your baby’s back and then sit him or her (diaper and all) onto your lap. Then you can pull up the front of the diaper and fasten the sides. Easy peasy. I like this method because there’s not many places she can go. She can’t push back because my body is there. And she can’t go forward, because my hands and legs are there. The only down side is that the diaper can go on crooked, so you’ll need to do a double check once you’re done to make sure you have a good diaper-leg seal.

Seated Change
Sit still, Baby!

The Standing Change

Standing Change
Get up, stand up. Stand up for the wipes.

The main time I use The Standing Change is when I have the husband with me and Baby has just had an epic poop-splosion, and we’re not in the house. It’s these times when we don’t want Baby rolling on whatever surface we have available to us and conversely (and more important) we don’t want poop getting all over the place. Basically, one parent holds the baby up under the baby’s arms (screams of horror in response to poop-splosion are optional), while the other parent performs the diaper change. Your baby may protest and want to sit down, but don’t let that happen! As soon as that butt hits the ground, your baby will be halfway to Toleda, poo and all. If it’s just a wet diaper, you can likely get away with doing this without a second person, just make sure you check the diaper-leg seal when you’re done.

Bonus: You can also use this method to check the side attachments if your baby was wiggling too much using the other methods. Just stand your baby up, undo each side one at a time and reattach them tighter, looser, or straighter as needed.

The Frisk Change

The Frisk Change is much like The Standing Change except you have built in distractions and you can do it more easily with one person. You start by standing your baby up near a wall and encouraging him or her to touch the wall. If your baby is anything like mine, he or she will spend the next few minutes scratching at the wall, just enough time to get that wet diaper off and a fresh diaper on. Disclaimer: Anything you find on your baby during a Frisk Diaper Change is not permissible in court.

Frisk Change
Keep your hands where I can see them.

Happy Changing!

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