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December 03, 2020

Standing Diaper Changes

I think at this point, I've said this a million times - babies are hardwired to move. Toddlers are hardwired to move. It is through movement that all children learn. It's this movement that helps make connections in their brains, and that helps them discover all the amazing details in our world. The freedom of movement is key to any Montessori home. But, there are times when movement is not exactly desirable from our young children - times when it becomes a larger hinderance to us than we want it to be. 

One of those times is during diaper changes. I would say right around 9-10 months for all of my kids traditional diaper changes have become an Olympic sport. Babies can move at this point! And they need to. They don't care about changing a wet or dirty diaper - no, no. They care about moving, wiggling, rolling, pulling to stand, and every other thing in the world but laying still to get clean. So, they scream, fight and continue to move. It can all be very frustrating. Enter standing diaper changes!

What Are Standing Diaper Changes?

Standing diaper changes are something that are done in Montessori environments to help make changes easier for older babies and toddlers. Instead of changing a baby while laying down, we prepare our space to allow our baby to stand while changing the diaper. It can be a little tricky to switch how we put the diaper on, but it can make our baby much more cooperative. 

For Teddy, we switched to standing diaper changes for wet diapers around 9.5-10 months. This is when he started really pulling to stand on his own and was able to stay on his feet for a few minutes by himself. Now, at 14-months, he is a pro. He stands (even without support) and can help be much more involved in the process. 

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A standing diaper change allows a baby to help more, by opening and closing taps/snaps, by actively moving their legs to get wiped, any by pulling on their pants. Plus, because they are standing they are still getting some of that movement they need and are much more tolerant to the changes. All of these things are also an important first step into potty learning. These changes are setting some important awareness and habits that will become more important as we move toward undies.

How Do We Prepare for Them?

The key to a successful standing diaper change for me has been preparing my space to allow for them. This requires two changes for me: 

The Space: We need to prepare a space for changes. For me this includes a place for Teddy to easily stand, a place for diapers, and support for a baby. We have prepared a space in Teddy's bedroom for these changes and a space in the bathroom. Since we have so many people, the bathroom is often not available when a diaper change needs to happen so having two spots has been super helpful. 

We used this simple sticky bar to give some support to Teddy as he is getting changed. This provides a place to grab on to which was especially important when he was a new stander. It's still helpful now, when he needs to be a little off balance while getting dressed and undressed. Also, it's been super strong and even with a toddler really pulling on it, the bar has stayed in place.

An accessible garbage/laundry is also really handy! The more you can involve your young toddler in the process the more cooperation you will get. For Teddy, throwing the diaper away is his favorite part and he is super super happy to finish with the change to clean up!

The Baby: We also need to make sure our baby is prepared for these types of changes. Since we follow natural gross motor development principles this means that our babies need to be pulling to stand independently before we attempt these. We don't want to place them into a position that they cannot get into themselves. 

Secondly, their clothing. Standing diaper changes are much harder with body suits and onesies. Simple t-shirts and sweaters (I love the ones from Primary) make the process so much easier. Again, I find this is an important switch for our family anyway as we move into our potty learning journey.

What Won't They Do? 

Standing diaper changes are not some magical diaper changing cure-all. There will be times when your baby or toddler still doesn't want to stop doing what they are doing to get a change. And there are times when laying down still has to happen - really messy diapers still are laying down around here. 

Also, not going to lie, they always feel awkward to me. While I can see that they are super helpful for Teddy, they are harder for me. It takes me a long time with each baby to get back into the habit of doing them and to learn to do them efficiently. But, despite that, it's totally worth it, and I know it's an important step in our potty learning journey.

Montessori parenting advice on standing diaper changes. Here's a look at how to do them, why they work, and why they help with potty training.

Do you use standing diaper changes with your baby?

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AE said…
I switch to pull ups when baby starts resisting a change and when they're finally able to pull to a stand, I find that much easier for both baby and me for standing changes. But this time around I haven't changed half as many nappies (I live in Australia!) as we're practising elimination communication. It's not a straightforward path, but at 14mo and slowly starting to walk, the end of nappies is in sight.