My 17 Month Old Son Kicking Hard During Diaper Change

Updated on April 02, 2011
M.T. asks from Saint Paul, MN
17 answers

Hi, my son is very active, especially with the legs, and recently started to kick his legs really hard during diaper change. He actually kicks whoever is changing the diaper really hard. And he's got really strong muscles that it actually hurts. Even my husband says it's hard/painful to change him. How do you think we can stop/manage this behavior?

Thank you in advance for your suggestions!

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answers from Modesto on

give him something interesting to hold that will distract while doing the changing... Anticipating a "cold" diaper wipe might start the knee jerk reaction so to speak, I know I'd kick if I knew someone was gonna slather me with a wet wipe, haha. But generally, if they have something in their hands it takes their mind off of everything else around them for a few. That's what I would try.... while talking to him about whatever it is he's holding. Put a bandaid on one of his toys and ask him to peel it off. He'll be busy peeling while you are doing the changing.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

So common at that age. They are so eager to move, they just can't lie still for long. I usually chance diapers standing up. It's just so much faster and easier. Even with #2, it's sometimes easier. I just tell my son to touch his toes, and then I clean his bottom. When I do change him lying down, we will do "Pat a Cake" together. If you have another person to help, that person can do the motions with him while you clean. Really makes the changes go fast. That's how my parents have always done diaper changes with their grandkids at that age.

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answers from Portland on

Except for bowel movements, you could try to start changing him while he is standing and give him choices. (examples- Do you want to stand or lay down? Do you want to get a diaper or the wipes? Do you want to wipe yourself or should I?)
For a bowel movement I would use one to hold his legs together at the ankles (with the arm kinda over his chest a little) while changing him with the other hand. Give him something interesting to look at or examine. I usually give the child a wipe to hold and let them wipe themselves when they are done.(I work with many toddlers:) Explain to him the whole time that when he kicks it makes it hard to change his diaper. He may never agree to be changed, but a dialogue will be started about it. Also, changing works much better when not on the floor, but on a higher surface for this method. I personally would not put my arm over a child's chest if I were to change them while they are laying on the floor because I would not be able to control my leverage.
Good Luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Hickory on

i think this is normal, both of my daughters did this. My youngest is 16 months old and does this alot, so we made a game of making silly faces and noises during diaper changes. She is so busy trying to copy my noises and faces that she doesnt pay attention to the diaper change...

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answers from Denver on

hold him by his ankles with his legs back- like you would have done when he was an infant. My 18mo daughter kicks. Just don't offer any response to the kicking- don't laugh, don't snicker, don't chastise- just take him by his ankles and pull his legs back and go about the diaper change.

with my first daughter- we'd sing a song:

lift your booty,
lift, lift your booty, baby
lift that butt off the ground
we gotta get your diaper on!

she loved it and would go along with it.

Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Fresno on

My 16 month old does this too. We use distraction. I have him touch his nose, eyes, toes, Etc. Make a game out of it and change them fast.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I really like Jilly's suggestion of letting your son stand during his diaper change. He's old enough to be participant. You might need to find a low chair to sit on yourself, and have him bend over on your lap when you need to wipe him.

I also found standing to the side of the changing table (instead of at the foot) helped in some cases, not in others.

Does he have a toy he'd like to hold? Distracting them at diaper changes is another option.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Rochester on

I also change standing up if needed (or possible), or on the floor with the kids' feet tucked under my thighs and hold them down if necessary. My 2 1/2 year old sometimes needs this still (it hurt more when he kicked me when I was pregnant, but now he gets me in the chest which hurts more since I'm nursing). It depends on his mood now, but either of those tactics might work with your little one, too.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Williamsport on

Ok, I'm going there. When our kids started squirming away from diaper changes, a "no" with a good sting to the butt nipped it in one try. Not angry, just teaching, like a momma lion nips a cub, that's not what you do during a diaper change. After that, all we needed was "no" a couple of times, and after that, it was just a given that you're still during a change.

At 17 months, he's sort of strong willed and it may take a few more tries. We did it younger. Despite the unfathomable abusive cruelty some will claim that is, the kids were content thereafter to cooperate which made everyone happier. Sometimes kids learn they want to squirm, kick, scream, whatever during diaper changes. They're just trying, and don't know better. You can manage it with tag team diaper changes to a fighting child, or nip it. Your choice! Whatever you do, don't say "no" without enforcement, because that just teaches that "no" means nothing, so they'll never head it as a request the next time around.

With our first, we were reluctant because it was our first discipline EVER as new parents, and even though all our relatives did it, and told us it would work, I wasn't ready, and let it continue with wrestling. Until one day the little squirmer's foot caught a full loaded diaper in the back of our car during a road trip flinging poo everywhere that we had to smell for days in a heat wave.....we decided it was time. The next two babies learned on the very first try.

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answers from Miami on

Dear Mary Anne, At this age, we let our son stand while changing him, and we still do. we put him at his tiny table with a book ...and it is done in no time.
Best of Luck, Jilly

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Duluth on

We used to stick a suction toy (suction to high chair tray) on our forehead. We'd tickle them with it, wiggle our head around and generally goof off. We'd all laugh about it!



answers from Johnstown on

I hold both feet together with one hand while I change the diapers with another. If it gets too bad, give him a little tap on the diaper--not the butt--where it makes alot of noise to scare him but doesn't actually make contact with him.



answers from Des Moines on

my now 3yo used to do that at that age. we just kept telling her to stop and that it wasn't nice to kick people because it hurts, and eventually she stopped.



answers from Houston on

when my son did it we pinned his legs till he settled down. and now he is starting to clamp his legs together and he is almost 3. so we cant put a diaper on him. we are working on potty training. my oldest never did this but my youngest was a night mare with it.



answers from Minneapolis on

This worked for a friend of mine. She would change her daughter on the floor and put her legs over her daughter's arms (not heavy pressure, just enough to restrict movement). For some reason, having no use of her arms made her not kick. Worth a shot.



answers from Minneapolis on

Try whispering to him as you change him. If he wants to hear you, he'll remain still and quiet. So, pick a topic that you know interests him (puppy dogs, ride in the stroller, ride in the car, favorite snack, whatever) and talk to him about it in a whisper. If it works, praise him after he is changed for being a good boy and listening to you.



answers from Green Bay on

I would say NO loud and hold his legs flat for 5 seconds EVERY time it happens. Hopefully, he'll catch on that it isn't fun.

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