(This post is geared toward infants/toddlers still using diapers).
This is a great month to focus on your rhythm and interaction with your baby during diaper changing time. In an interview entitled “Do We Know Why We Do What We Do? An Interview with Helle Heckmann” by Margaret Ris, Helle Heckman was asked a question about the process of caring for the young child and she said, “The whole process of caring for the little child matters. For instance, with changing diapers, so few use cloth, but instead use the highly effective diapers that eliminate smells. These diapers can be left on for five or six hours, rather than two hours, so now diapering time, that “You-and-I”, intimate, private time when one talks or sings to the child, is much reduced.” (to read more about Helle Heckmann’s work at Nokken, please see this post: https://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/08/31/nokken-a-review-of-two-books-and-a-few-thoughts/)
A few of my thoughts:
- Change diapers frequently and allow plenty of time for eye contact, interaction, singing, finger plays and toe plays. Many times the baby is a passive witness to things going on in the home via a sling, but diaper changing time is a time to slow down and interact with that adorable baby!
- You can take off an old diaper on a child who can stand standing up and then just quickly lay them down to put on a new diaper if an older baby is resistant to diaper changes.
- Try a beautiful mobile overhead if you have a usual changing space. You can make charming silk fairies to hang up, or little paper cut figures according to the seasons
- Pick some wonderful songs that you can sing at diaper changing time and keep them consistent.
- Older children can enjoy finger plays and toe plays during diaper changing time.
- Keep in mind your beautiful gestures whilst you are doing this activity. Honor your child’s body and its function. Smile, don’t rush, be careful and gentle. Smooth the diaper out before putting it on, be cheerful whilst reaching for supplies. Some adults make all kinds of “jokes” about babies and their stool, which really bothers, irritates and angers me because this is a healthy, normal function. Why one would shame a baby over a biological function that is necessary to live and not be sick amazes me.
- Some folks have asked me about Elimination Communication and Waldorf, and to be honest, I am not sure there is any “official” sort of position on it; to me, if practicing Elimination Communication would fit into the natural rhythm and would not put individual pressure on the individual child, then it would be okay…(Remember, we are not trying to draw children out into their individual consciousness early on, so to me it would just have to fit into the natural rhythm of things as a family)…. I do know Waldorf mothers who practice EC, and they are far more qualified to speak on this issue than I! I believe there may also be a subform for Elimination Communication at the Mothering Magazine Forum.
- If you are interested in cloth diapering (and yes, I know in areas with low water, people may choose not to in order to conserve) here is an article from Mothering Magazine: http://www.mothering.com/green-living/joy-of-cloth-diapers. Here is a primer as to the different types of diapers: http://www.greenmountaindiapers.com/newmom.htm. There are also pocket diapers out there such as FuzziBunz. There are many, many kinds of cloth diapers, and those of us who use cloth usually have quite a few different types in our homes. 🙂
There are many posts on this blog about the Waldorf Baby,and each month I will be picking a different area to focus on as a gentle reminder.
It’s amazing how when one needs advice it appears! My 7 month old son has recently become a flip-and-crawl-away baby at diaper time. We’ve moved the “station” to the floor, sometimes literally, as the hard wood seems to keep him from wanting to escape (he loves wood!). I’ve tried creating a routine with language (What do we do next? We lift- and legs down…), creating diaper-changing songs, gentle humming, distraction, etc. 9 times out of 10 I can get him to hold his “disposable”* wipes package, which he crinkles & sucks & chews on. He’s more interested in what’s behind him, textures, drawer handles, or just crawling away- maybe to get away from the wet diaper, not sure. I’ll just keep trying to be consistent, but he’s a squirmer and I don’t think he’ll be otherwise any time soon! 🙂
*”Disposable” = we discovered we can throw his wipes (7th Generation) in with the cloth diapers & reuse them many times.
Quick question- does anyone have any recommendations for diapering songs/activities/poems/etc?
The crawler is now a climber/stander/walker as well and he’s just absolutely frustrated when I put him on his back for a diaper change. I can remove wet ones with him holding on to me and standing, but even a quick lay on the floor to put the dry one on is a challenge. I try to be soothing and find both of us getting worked up as the process drags on because of his wanting to explore instead. (I’ve tried letting him wander about sans-diaper to let him feel the air on his skin, then bring him back, but I somehow feel like I’m teasing him.)
Sparkling wishes and forest frosts,
Kerrie- how old is your little one? I would think mother goose rhymes, and also songs or verses about anything he loves…Train songs if he likes trains, doggie songs if he likes doggies…But try to keep it consistent if you can!
He’s only 7.5 months old- going on 750! He’s a little old sage in a tiny body, but very spry! 😉
I’ve introduced him to our apple tree, and even in winter, we go to the window to say hello to Tree. He has shown an interest in my parents’ dog, though we have two cats he’s also interested in. No experience with trains yet. He loves wood- the colors, the textures; plants- we go to the Lyman Conservatory @ Smith College; wind chimes; water fountains; drums; music. I played Golan & Globus’s Hansel & Gretel recently, and he likes the “Punch & Judy” song- “raise your hands & clap-clap-clap, point your toe & tap-tap-tap.” Not exactly calming, but he can clap to a beat, and tries to kick both feet to the beat as well.
Sparkling wishes & forest frosts,
Kerrie, In that case I would advise you to pick one to two verses for diaper changing time and use them over and over for one month straight….What we are doing is deepening the experience of language through repetition. What you will notice over time is that he will start to anticipate the words you are going to sayand start the letter sound…This will not make your diaper changing challenges disappear though; he may not be happy through them and that is just that as they still have to happen. You of course, I am sure, have given him a toy to hold and manipulate in his hands as well during diaper changes..You may want to keep a few special rattles that only come out during diaper changing time
BTW, when I said I played H&G, I pop it in the DVD player, set it up, and turn off the TV- it’s like a fun, musical audio-book or radio play, and we dance and sing to the songs! When I sing them to him later, he remembers them, so they’ve become incorporated into our singing “library”. I’ve tried audio-books, as I love a good story, but they’re too long for him still. He did seem to like listening to Jane Yolen’s Once Upon a Bedtime, especially the Three Little Pigs (huff & puff & blow!), so I may have to add that to my storyteller’s bag.
Thanks, Carrie! It helped a lot yesterday, especially to see your response before he woke for the day!
(I thought I’d post here instead of emailing you in case others were interested in what I did.)
After reading your first response, I remembered a friend’s site, SurLaLune Fairy Tales had a storytime section:
As I looked for something topical he might like, I read your second post and then saw this lovely little song at the bottom of the Colors page (just the first verse so far):
(Tune : “Hush, Little Baby’)
Rainbow purple, rainbow blue
Rainbow green and yellow, too
Rainbow orange, rainbow red
Rainbow smiling overhead.
(Somehow “smiling” morphed into “colors” but I will remember it as I add the rest of the song.)
And you know what? It worked! Most of the day, until Dahdee came home, of course. I had no problems with squirming, gave him a little blue “fish” castanet (easier to clean that a disposable wipes package):
which “sang” the verse the first time as he came down from the table to be held by Little E. Sometimes I also turned a little “rain stick” rattle his nana gave him (the Mini Rainbomaker):
If he tried shouting over me, I stopped and intoned “Om” 4 times and resumed the song.
I tried to show my husband, but he proved to be a distraction and we had our crawler again. Which somehow made me emotional, but that could just be sleep deprivation. 🙂 It worked in the middle of the night, and a little this morning, I’ll just keep at it. My husband thinks- and I agree- that he should come up with his own routine- he’s here during limited times (early morning, night, weekend), has a different voice, and different mannerisms, so he’ll pick something that he does when he changes him.
It definitely made me slow down, pay more careful attention to my “beautiful gestures”, and maintain gentle eye contact. I think it was good and calming for both of us, almost zen-like! (Who would have though changing diapers could be a zen experience!)
So, again, thank you, thank you, thank you, Carrie!
Update & request for thoughts…
Well, it’s been a week and a half & while I try to remain calm, and consistent, diaper time is turning into an Olympic competition rather than a soothing moment. The castanet is getting tossed, and interest is waning to “what’s behind me?” and crawling away. We’ve gone through a few different items (castanet, rainbow rain stick, diaper wipes package) but he eventually loses interest. Today he seemed okay with an arch of dangling toys his Nana had when we visited for the weekend, so I may erect an arc of soothing visions- maybe a soothing-colored playsilk (maybe a sea blue or green?) & something to grab that will stay in one place and not get tossed across the room (might make a crinkle square). I don’t want it to become a high-end production with props and preparation. He has now figured out the song I sing means lying down for a change and anticipates it and tries to get away even faster. (Did I mention he’s wise beyond his 7.5 months? Not sure if that’s always a good thing.) Am I expecting too much too soon? Any thoughts on something more soothing that what I described in the post above? (Of course, listening to Dahdee attempting to change him- he doesn’t have a routine yet- makes even my most challenging attempts seem like the zen-experience I had earlier!)
I guess I didn’t specify that diapering, maybe 60-75% of the time, has become a traumatic experience, for all involved. After chasing down said crawler, trying to get him to stay in one place, ends up with both of us frustrated, him shouting, me trying not to shout, him crying, me sometimes crying and just letting him crawl away or hold him close so that I can calm down & not hurt him by accident in trying to wrestle him. Changing pad straps do nothing, even my leg as a gentle trap doesn’t work. When it all works, it really works, and I just can’t figure out why it doesn’t all the time- he just doesn’t want to be on his back, and I just can’t get a cloth diaper on him, standing or sitting.
Getting him in the car seat is becoming a problem too- maybe it’s something to do with his neck/head? I just don’t know and don’t want to cause him all of this grief (I’m bigger, and I know the grief will pass, but I know he doesn’t understand this yet).
Sorry if I’m laying all of this on you, Carrie, or this forum. Everyone else I’ve talked to just turns it into a joke and says speed is the key or just enjoy it (his nurse practitioner said that one). You’ve given gentle suggestions, and for that I am most grateful. 🙂
Kerrie, first of all, take a deep breath. It sounds as if your emotions and past experiences are really getting all tangled up with the diaper changing of today. Every diaper changing time is a time to experience new success! People probably joke and tell you about speed because they have no clue what else to say.
My suggestion would be to try to find a cloth diaper that has the simplest closure system as possible, or even to try disposables for a little bit. (Yes, I know, I am a cloth mama as well, so the thought pains me as well, but perhaps this is a phase that will pass)>
I bet you can take that wet diaper off as he is crawling away (yes, I know this doesn’t work for dirty diapers). You can continue to practice being able to just lay him down for the cleaning part, and put the diaper on him standing up if he can stand.
But, the most important thing is, you have to hold the space. THis is a boundary you are setting. You are dirty, you must be clean, I know you don’t like it, but we have to do it anyway.
Pick your times that you change the diaper carefully as well. If he is really in an active spot or is completely exhausted, he is going to be screaming when you get to it. Watch and see as well if you can change him less so you have to tackle this less often – can you use two liners? Is he prone to diaper rash if you change him less frequently?
Finally, what about looking into Elimination Communication for part of the day? That may solve your diaper problem by being diaper-free for at least part of the day!
If you have access to a video camera, feel free to send me a video of your diaper changing and I will see if any other suggestions come to mind…
Thank you. 🙂
The cloth diapers we use are basic pre-folds with a Snappi fastener & diaper cover.
Yes, taking the diaper off while standing, while new, has been possible.
We use a disposable overnight- and only one unless he’s really fussy when he wakes up to nurse back to sleep (9-12 hour wet diapers- fun!).
Strangely the cleaning is easier for dirty diapers when he’s on his stomach, so he’s actually helping in those instances.
I can get the disposable and a diaper cover on while standing, but not the cloth diaper itself.
I try to diaper when he’s calm, but then he’s just distracted by everything- even with “nothing” around him, he finds something.
Two liners would be way too bulky, though less often is a possibility.
I looked into EC, and I may try some of that (sounds very complicated!), setting up an easy-to-clean area that we can manage together.
And no video camera, we had one and it died.
And last, but definitely not least…
Thanks again, Carrie, for the reminders to just BE. I have been reading through your posts on holding the space, being present, mindful parenting, and dealing with developmental challenges, and you know what?
Not him- he is too young, probably teething.
It is me.
Not my husband- he has his own ways, his own long days.
It is me.
It is me getting tired because I haven’t been sleeping as well, eating at the right times, letting go and laughing and holding my son when I get soaked.
Today was like yesterday, but 10 times as hard- my husband got stuck at the bottom of the driveway, and I helped dig him out; I didn’t get to eat more than a few bites before 12:30; we had an emergency bath this morning because “we” (husband) waited one poopie too long to change Junior while I made his lunch (which he ate here due to stuck car). I was okay through most of this- one crying session, but I survived, got that diaper on, and got some food in me.
I guess it’s hard to “hold the space” when I’m not taking as good a care of myself as I try to take of others- and then we all suffer.
I’m a writer, so last night I made one of my (infamous) lists of what “warmth” means to me- I have read so much about the importance of warmth, in Waldorf, in general, for a person, for a child. I loved the flow of the words, the groupings, the images they evoked- I even thought I might put together a photo-book to go along with it, maybe asking others to contribute. (I’d love to share it if you’d like to see it. I think I need a blog.) I think I will do the same for “holding the space” and “diapering” or something along those lines. Sometimes we need to see it in front of us, to help us remember.
So again, thank you, Miss Carrie, for reminding me, for mentoring me, for being that voice out there on this isolating, snowy day where I am. I will try and try again! 🙂
I almost forgot- I looked at the list of 12 senses on Mercurius (I think you had a post as well- yup, there’s even a tag- I’ll post below) and thought perhaps his sense of balance is being disturbed when I try to lie him down for a changing or in his car seat. He is starting to be more upright, and probably doesn’t want to be on his back as much. It is something I will meditate on as I learn to hold the space, and will try to be more understanding about when he crawls away again.
Mercurius: Twelve Senses
Parenting Passageway: 12 Senses
Thank you Kerrie and Carrie for this conversation! Lots of pearls in here that I am going to try out. My little sprout is 13 months and lothes diaper changes. I want to make them better for him and your conversation has helped me. Love the rainbow song and the concept of holding space for him. The changing table is no longer an option for my little sprout. Time to rethink and honour his changing needs.
Wow, The above comments from Kerrie and Carrie…well, I could have written al of Kerrie’s comments myself. My daughter just turned seven months and is also very active (starting to stand unassisted, crawling, cruising) and has been for months. I have tried all of the above too. She also flips in her carseat and always has but it has gotten worse. I have tried singing and rhymes but as she gets smarter and mroe agile even that doesn’t work. Actually getting her dressed/undressed at all is a battle. We try to actually change her while she’ moving if possible and it’s very challenging. We do EC part time as well which she’s sometimes into, sometimes not. I’d really love to know more about how Kerrie ende dup getting through this….and more about my firey little one and how on earth to apply gentle parenting and rhythm to a baby who seems to resist it??
Welcome to this space…I think the drive to move is just very strong and you have to be calm and persistent. Changing a diaper can be difficult with really active infants and toddlers, but you only have to be calm and last one minute longer than they do, LOL, but there really is no option….If you try everything and you are gentle but just as matter of fact as the sun coming up and going down and not getting enmeshed emotionally in the whole thing, then that is all you can do.
Hang in there, this too shall pass!
Many, many blessings to you and your sweet little one 🙂
As Carrie says, the will to move is VERY strong with my little man. He prefers to be upright, so I have been trying to learn to diaper him while standing up. This works with disposables (Seventh Generation) when we are out (those straps on public changing tables no longer work) or it’s a hot day (if he has only a diaper on, the cloth ones don’t stay on for long). I also picked up a Flip diaper cover which has a front & back “pocket” (though not much of one) to place cloth diapers in as an insert (or you can buy inserts). I’ve tried a few songs & such, mostly my own- we’ll do “scales” with ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba, which I’ll change to knee or nose or ear or some other part of the body. You could probably do colors or numbers too. A fun one I can up with (my husband thinks it’s strange) is:
Diapers & applesauce- they don’t go together!
Except when we eat applesauce, and then change our diaper!
Sometimes I’ll switch it to “except when we change our diaper, then eat applesauce” which changes the rhythm. We’ll also change applesauce to whatever we’re eating- beef noodles, noodle soup, beef broth & stars, poutine, blueberries- anything I can get approximately a 3-syllable rhythm out of.
I have a drawer of a few things to distract him, but that doesn’t always work. He often prefers his tub/package of wipes, which ends up in a clean-up.
It’s still a struggle- I’m not going to promise it gets easier- some days it is, some days it’s really, really hard. Depends on many things- when he woke up, meals, nursing, naps, if we got outside, if he has a lot of energy, if he’s distracted, etc. I’ve tried to just grin & work with him as best I can. As tiring as that can be at times. 😉
Best wishes in your own diapering quest!
(Oh, and the car seat situation is better with an up-right car seat, & puffs to distract him while I buckle him in.)