Diapering as Quality Time
Diapering is a daily care activity that is often viewed as an unpleasant chore, a task of hygiene, and time away from an infant’s play and learning. A parent who perceives diapering as a chore will often develop a fast, efficient routine. Often toys are used to distract the baby’s attention. There is little eye contact or communication. As a result, the infant will also come to view diaper changes as a chore, and they may resist, fuss, or cry at the prospect of the changing table.
But what if we thought of care activities as enjoyable, meaningful times, not chores? When we contemplate that an average infant in our society is diapered over 5,000 times we realize that this is not time away from learning, but meaningful time to engage with our babies. Diapering can be prime time for baby and parent, with inherent opportunities for learning, pleasure, and the development of the parent’s and infant’s relationship.
Here are some guidelines for making all care activities enjoyable, quality time, rich with learning experiences:
- Prepare ahead: Have everything ready so you won’t have to search for cream or wipes, which would disrupt the continuity of your time together.
- Observe and wait: If your child is absorbed in an activity, do not interrupt, but wait for the right moment to invite him or her to the diaper change.
- Communicate: Approach so she sees you, then when she is ready to pay attention to you, tell her you want to pick her up now, and why. Wait, and give her a chance to process your request. Pick her up when you see she is ready.
- Explain what you are going to do: This pattern can begin in early infancy in all interactions. Although the infant does not understand your words at first, he will soon begin to associate your sounds and tone of voice with your gestures and actions, and his anticipation will grow for enjoyable time shared together.
- Involve: By slowing down your actions as you diaper, you allow your infant to keep up with you and become involved in the process, to make eye contact, study your face, vocalize, understand what is expected. The baby will become, over time, an active participant in his or her own care.
Handling care activities is just one of many topics covered during Parent Infant-Guidance Classes.