What To Do When Your Baby Cries When Changing A Diaper

Do you always get frustrated every time your baby cries when changing a diaper? 

Every time you put them down they scream their lungs out and create a fuss, kicking and flaring, making the process take even longer. 

It is even worse in public.

Diaper changes are especially upsetting to newborns. It disturbs their peace and invades their space. But they quickly move on from that. 

So if your baby is past the newborn stage and they still freak out during diaper change time, you definitely need tried and tested tips to calm them down. 

In this post, you will discover why babies hate diaper changes and how to stop your baby from crying during a diaper change.

Why Do Babies Freak Out During Diaper Changes?

Baby cries when changing diaper

Most babies cry or become restless when their diaper is wet, the diaper has leaked, or soiled because they are uncomfortable.

This is normal.

However, there are babies who hate diaper changes and they scream their lungs out.


There are various reasons why a baby cries when changing a diaper. Luckily, most are easy to solve.

Here they are: 

Your Baby Doesn’t Like Being Fiddled With 

Have you ever been in a position where someone keeps holding your hand or shoulder, fixing your buttons, touching your hair, etc and you just get irritated? 

Your baby could be getting upset because they don’t like you handling them, taking off their clothes, and putting them on again.

Feeling Cold

Your baby could be crying because she feels cold during diaper changes. 

The difference between their skin and the ambient temperature could be big, especially during winter when they are dressed warmly.

Your Baby Is Bored

Babies like entertainment. Period.

If you just put your baby down facing a blank wall and there is nothing to look at, or no sound at all, it becomes boring for a small baby with a short attention span. 

Doesn’t Know What Is Going On

If your baby is playing and then you suddenly grab them, open the nappy, use cold wipes, etc, it will create confusion and your baby could end up crying.

Your Baby Hates Restriction

Babies are free like that and don’t want to be bothered. 

There are times when it’s time to change and your baby is still in their element, playing, kicking, and flexing their muscles. 

When you interrupt them to change the diaper, you will get some resistance.

This is simply because they don’t want you to disturb them in what they are still focusing on.

More Serious Reasons 

In more serious circumstances, your baby’s nappy change tantrum could be the result of a more serious underlying reason. 

If your baby suffers from reflux, putting them down could send that acid back up the esophagus and cause discomfort.

In some cases, a baby who cries when put on their back could be having back problems that need to be checked out. 

Sometimes they have a nappy rash so a wet or soiled nappy is irritating their skin.

If your baby cries and you don’t know why you should take them to a Dr to rule out any serious causes.

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How To Stop Baby From Crying When Changing A Diaper

What to do when baby cries during diaper changes

Now that we have explored the possible reasons behind your baby’s distress, let us look at how to make diaper changes less traumatic.

Distract Your Baby

If your baby hates diaper changes, come up with ways to distract them during the process. 

Make funny sounds, play music, laugh, play peekaboo, etc. Anything to take their focus away from the dreaded nappy change.

Make Sure Your Baby Is Comfortable 

Crying is the only method of communication for babies. 

Whether hungry, wet, tired or in pain, they cry. 

Your baby crying during a diaper change could be because they are uncomfortable. Maybe the surface they are sleeping on is not even, or perhaps it is cold. 

Put your baby down in a firm but comfortable space and see if the crying doesn’t stop.

Use A Lift Wedge If They Have Reflux

If your little one has reflux, putting them down every time to change nappies can make them feel the effect of reflux often. 

Get a lifting wedge and use it to slightly raise their head. It can go a long way in preventing regurgitation.

Give Unfamiliar Object

I have seen countless times that when my baby cries uncontrollably, giving them something they don’t always play with stops the tears. 

For some reason, the friendship between toys and my baby doesn’t last that long.

That means a toy is fascinating for a week or two max. They would rather play with everyday household objects. 

So when it’s time to change diapers and I can’t seem to keep them calm, I grab anything from a towel, empty container of vaseline or lotion, my cosmetic mirror, etc. 

I just make sure the item I give won’t hurt them, and I take them straight after changing. 

Warm Your Hands

Your baby could be resisting nappy changes on chilly days because your hands are so cold. 

Here is how to keep your baby warm during a diaper change session:

  • Keep the room warm with a warmer
  • If you don’t have a warmer, roughly rub your palms for a few seconds to warm them up.
  •  Cover your baby with a receiving blanket during the process

Changing the diaper will be less dramatic if coldness was the reason for the struggle. 

Semi-Dress And Finish Later 

Semi-dress baby and finish later

For babies who don’t want to wait until you have put all their clothes back on, consider only putting on some items and finishing later.

For example, in winter when your baby is wearing pants with leggings, you can only put on the leggings and wrap your baby with a blanket.

This also does the trick if your baby always cries after taking a bath. It can be difficult or even seem cruel to fit in a diaper and finish dressing up in one sitting.  

Semi-dressing can save you and your baby a lot of frustration. 

Be Quick

Babies have short attention spans.

Even if you did your best to entertain them during the process, a diaper changing session that takes forever to end will quickly bore them. 

Don’t Surprise Your Baby 

In some cases, your baby cries during diaper changes because they were just not waiting for it. 

Why? Some babies don’t like surprises.

Try to warn your baby when you want to change them. Have a routine. 

I start by feeling their diaper and laying out items I will be using, diapers, barrier cream, wipes, and a changing pad. 

After a few days, once your baby sees these items they know what’s next. 

Don’t Stick To One Environment But Stick To Routine 

Babies often relate well to familiar environments. In mom’s arms, on their crib, holding a favorite toy, etc.

Once your baby is accustomed to changing in one place all the time, you might experience problems when you are out and about with your baby. 

Have you ever seen a baby wailing when a stranger holds them? 

Some babies cry just like that once you put them down in an unfamiliar environment. 

To make things easier for your baby to adjust, avoid using only one changing spot for changing diapers, but stick to a diaper changing routine. Use any spot in the house. 

A blanket or a taglet they love, or even a toy, sing a diaper change song, etc also helps. 

This way, your baby won’t be as nervous when you put them down in public changing areas. 

Get Your Baby Used To Lying On Their Back

It is easy to think that babies are used to lying on their backs all the time. That is not the case. 

For moms who are always holding their babies in their arms, such babies could hate being out down on their back to change a nappy. 

If your baby is used to being held and they only get to lie down when sleeping, taking them from their comfort zone for a diaper change will cause a stir. 

Put your baby down during wake times.

It will help them get accustomed to this environment and stress less when a diaper change is needed. 

Be Gentle

All babies should come with a label “handle with care”. Why? Because babies are just so fragile and need gentleness. 

This is especially true for newborns and babies under six months. 

Diaper changing requires unbuttoning and unzipping, wiping, and drying. Be sure to do all this with tender love and care to avoid putting your baby into panic mode. 

Being gentle is also necessary if your baby has a diaper rash. They could be crying when you wipe because of the friction. Be sure to wipe your baby’s bum with the utmost care.

Involve Your Baby In The Process

Talk to baby during nappy changes

If your baby cries because they are feeling lonely when your face has disappeared into their diaper, talk to them. 

This starts when you check your baby’s diaper. 

Touch your baby’s diaper and let them know that it is wet. If you still have to gather changing items, tell them what you are grabbing and where you are going to use them. 

Before you put them down, tell your baby that you are about to put them down and take off their clothes. 

It will also help if you add a little bit of dramatization to distract and entertain your little one.

Safety First

If your baby has started crawling or is walking already, you will need great anticipation skills to make diaper changes go as smoothly as possible. 

Babies at this stage are always on the go and often don’t want any restrictions. 

Most babies fall off the bed and bump their heads when they roll during diaper changes. You can prevent this. 

To be safe, always change your baby on the floor (on top of a blanket and changing pad of course). 

You never know when your baby will jump or roll onto the side.

Surviving Diaper Changes

There are a lot of things you need to learn to master as a new mom. 

From less sleep, how to calm a crying baby, what to do when your baby gets sick, etc.

Surviving diaper changes and diaper leaks is another skill you have to master. 

So whether you are a new or experienced mom, pick one of these tips any time your baby cries during a diaper change and watch as you go through the changing process like a pro. 

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